PPP could boost water security

19 July 2019 | Disasters

Public-private partnerships (PPPs) present one solution to Namibia's critical water supply challenges, which among several steep hurdles, is dogged by significant funding shortfalls.

A roundtable discussion hosted by Open Africa yesterday focused on a range of issues related to water delivery projects in Namibia, with a key focus on financing mechanisms such as PPPs or project financing for procuring and developing major water projects and services.

NamWater CEO Abraham Nehemia said Namibia needs to tackle the issue of ensuring long-term water security overall.

“We really need to address this aspect of uncertainty, and work towards coming up with sustainable systems. Whether we have rain, or no rain, we should have sufficient water. Now is the time we really have to look into sustainable water security for this country,” Nehemia said. He warned that water scarcity will remain a problem and “we have to plan and find ways to get water”.

“And that will cost money. We have to think outside the box here.”

Water and agriculture executive director Percy Misika highlighted that among an array of challenges to ensure water security is that the “the water sector is particularly underfunded”.

Misika said PPPs “can be a mechanism, among others, to help government fund much-needed infrastructure and bring technology and efficiency that can improve the performance and financial sustainability of the water sector”.

Apart from financing gaps, Misika highlighted that Namibia is the driest country in sub-Saharan Africa, and while the population is small it is scattered, which makes water provision costly and challenging.



Pricy

Misika underlined that a key development goal for Namibia is to ensure that by 2022, 100% of its urban population should have access to safe drinking water, and 95% of the rural population.

However, currently many Namibian's struggle to access water points, with some stationed as far as five to seven kilometres from the nearest water tap. He said in rural communities, access to drinking water currently stands at around 83%, compared to 95% in urban areas.

He outlined that the development budget allocated to the water sector during the current medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF) is N$1.7 billion for water supply infrastructure development, of which 71% has been allocated for emergency water supply projects.

“Only 12% - N$204 million – is for rural water supply infrastructure,” he said.

Moreover, N$22 million has been allocated for sanitation infrastructure and N$45 million for integrated water resources management.

Misika added that in total, rural water supply and sanitation infrastructure requires around N$2 billion, yet only N$271 million is budgeted for the current MTEF.

“The emerging funding gap therefore is N$1.429 billion,” Misika stressed.

Additionally, NamWater requires about N$12.6 billion. The state-owned enterprise confirmed to the ministry they could raise N$2.3 billion over the next five years, “that leaves a funding gap of N$10.3 billion”.

Misika said this funding would be used towards the development of new water schemes and to rehabilitate aging infrastructure.

The executive director said the technical committee, established by government to address Namibia's emergency water security issues, received numerous offers from private individuals proposing a host of solutions.

These range from desalination of seawater to developing groundwater resources and the construction of inter-basin water transfer schemes and pipelines.

“Establishing strategic alliances through public-private partnerships to address the financial constraints facing the water sector, is one of the financing strategic options aimed at achieving the objections of Namibia's Fifth National Development Plan (NDP5),” he said.

JANA-MARI SMITH

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