Calle urges stronger implementation in water sector

23 July 2021 | Infrastructure

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK

Although Namibia’s water policy and legislations rank among the best in the world, the implementation of these policies has been a serious challenge.

“That must change,” agriculture and water minister Calle Schlettwein said during a virtual NamWater stakeholder engagement strategy workshop.

“It is through engagements like this workshop that you have an opportunity to influence and bring about that much needed change for the better.”

He said there is a clear need for Namibia, the international community, the business sector, financiers and households or agricultural consumers to work in partnership to ensure that they succeed in implementation.

“We must at all cost avoid the risk of creating havoc and ruin because of weak and insufficient control.”

Schlettwein said the government had increased its investment and long-term planning focus in the water sector such as co-financing African Development Bank (AfDB) loans of N$1.2 billion for water projects in the northern regions amounting to N$643.3 million.

It has also financed West Coast infrastructure refurbishment of N$266.9 million and for Windhoek reclamation works of N$120 million in cooperation with the German Development Bank (KfW), he said.

Desalination

According to him the government has also taken steps with developing desalination capacity, with the aim to ensure water security for the nation.

He further stressed that to be able to tackle the future challenges in the water sector, they need to ensure that capacity is built on various fronts.

“We need to actively ensure that the critical mass is deliberately and consciously increased as the complexity of the environment we are dealing with increase all the time.”

Schlettwein said that this must be do ne as a matter of strategic necessity.

“The significance of this, especially to supply skills to local governments cannot be overemphasised. The fact that we are stepping up implementation means that we must increase the critical mass across all skills levels and requirements. As you may be aware many studies have shown this very critical gap which we must urgently address.”

Schlettwein further explained that NamWater is in the process of developing a new strategic focus for the next five years.

According to him the strategy development process has commenced in June, with the assistance of experts in the business strategy industry and the stakeholder engagement workshop would also assist in formulating the document.

Schlettwein said that during stakeholders must bear in mind that all citizens are totally dependent on water for their lives and livelihoods.

“We in policy-making positions may therefore not allow for any complacency. A great number of our people remain with limited access to water and other basic necessities. The link of water to all aspects of our lives need not be overemphasised.”

He said the workshop should ensure that the debates and discussions reflect on the critical aspects of societal needs, which is socio-economic, industrial and commercial, but also urban, rural and agricultural, all of which cannot function without a secure water supply.

“I strongly believe your coming here is not just a matter of assisting in the formulation of a strategy document at the end of the day, but an opportunity to greatly optimise the impact the water sector has as a catalyst for social and economic advancement.”

The list of invitees included international partners, donor funding agencies, SADC representatives, national to local government representatives, government agencies and institutions, suppliers, consumers, as well as National Assembly members from both the government and the official opposition.

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