Pensioner ankle-deep in sewage

26 November 2018 | Health

A 91-year-old kindergarten owner in Katutura's so-called Wambo-lokasie has endured streams of sewage running through her house and yard for months, while City of Windhoek staff failed to offer a solution.

Elisabeth Joseph, who started her kindergarten shortly after independence, says she sits in the corner of the yard the entire day to watch the children, making sure they do not play in the sewage.

When Namibian Sun arrived at the house on Friday morning the stench was so unbearable that we had to move to the far corner of the yard to have a conversation.

Almost every corner in the yard had a puddle of dirty water filled with rubbish and faeces. Joseph said they cannot live normal lives because of the stench, which gets even worse on hot days. “We cannot even cook because of the smell; it runs right past the window. At some point the water spilled over the toilet pot and ran through the house. Some days the water pushes up in the kitchen,” she said.















Joseph said the City of Windhoek was informed of the problem three months ago and was told repeatedly that the drain is overflowing, but nothing has been done.

“They told us that apparently there is a stone in the drain, but of all the many times that they were here they never came with a machine. They only come here with pieces of wire and poke around in the drain and then they leave,” she said.

Joseph is convinced that the problem is at the main drain in the residential area, but city staff allegedly ignored her suggestions that they must investigate there.

“Every time we call them they ask for our erf number and say they will call back, but nothing happens,” she added.

City spokesperson Lydia Amutenya said she could only respond after the weekend.

“If you call me tomorrow then I can find out from our waterworks people to hear if it was indeed reported. Now it is a Sunday,” she said.



Track record

Joseph's plight is not an isolated incident, as sewage is found flowing through the streets of various parts of the city on a daily basis.

Namibian Sun reported a fortnight ago about the Gemengde community in Katutura living amid the stench of sewage. They claimed that the City had failed to deal with the issue for nearly two months.

Residents of Gemengde community accused the municipal workers of simply “looking around, taking pictures,” and then leaving and never returning to fix the problem.



Catastrophe

These reports come at a time when Namibia is grappling with a hepatitis E outbreak and is failing to contain the spread of the disease, which has already caused a number of deaths.

Hepatitis E is a liver infection spread either by direct contact with an infected person's faeces or by the indirect faecal contamination of food or water.

The outbreak is fuelled mainly by a lack of clean water, poor sanitation and poor personal hygiene.

The first case was reported in Windhoek in October 2017, but the disease has since spread to other towns including Swakopmund and Oshakati.

The disease continues to spread unabated, with a total number of 3 859 cases and 31 deaths reported last month.

A World Health Organisation (WHO) report said in January that Namibia had limited capacity for hepatitis E laboratory diagnosis.

It said the majority of hepatitis E cases had been reported in Windhoek's informal settlements, where living conditions are poor.

“The WHO recommends the improvement of access to safe water and proper sanitation through different methods, including home water purification techniques.

“The water quality should be regularly monitored in the affected areas. The number of latrines in different settlements should be increased to address the issue of open defecation. In addition, the waste management and overall hygiene practices should be improved,” the WHO report said.

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