Thirsty villagers turn to tombo

A potential health hazard is playing itself out at Amarika where residents continue to endure water hardships.

20 March 2019 | Local News

Amarika residents are consuming salty, green water from self-created wells, as well as tombo, as they wait for government to purchase tyres for a tanker that used to supply water to rural communities throughout the Omusati Region.

Senior citizen Andreas Marthin said when villagers drink water straight from the wells they develop diarrhoea.

He said since the wells have claimed many lives through drownings, some households have raised money to buy water pumps in order to avoid using them. “Our wells have water but this water is inconsumable. It has turned green and salty; once you drink it you will immediately get a running stomach,” said Marthin.

“There is no other option, but we only have to use this water. For cooking one has to be very careful, otherwise the porridge will get spoiled. For drinking it becomes better once it's brewed into tombo.”

The Omusati regional council, through the agriculture ministry's rural water supply and sanitation division, used to supply the community with potable water until the water tanker broke down last year.

The truck was fixed earlier this year, but sustained tyre punctures again due to the inaccessible roads that lead to destitute communities in the region.

The community now depends on poor quality, salty water that they drink straight from the wells, and locally brewed tombo.

Oshikoto health director Alfons Amoomo confirmed they supply their clinic at Amarika with potable water every month, as the water in the community was not good.

“(However) no single health condition was reported to our health facility emanating from using the salty water. We, however, supply the Amarika clinic with potable water on a monthly basis for staff consumption, as well as our patients, but not the whole community,” Amoomo said.

In 2006, CuveWaters, a German/Namibian research project, through Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), using funds from the German education and research ministry, installed two solar-powered desalination plants at Amarika and Akutsima at a cost of N$200 million.





The system is capable of producing 3.3 cubic metres of clean drinking water daily, bThe system is capable of producing 3.3 cubic metres of clean drinking water daily, but the Amarika plant broke down immediately after the agriculture ministry handed it over in 2010, and it has not been functioning optimally since.

Another resident Andreas Kayena said the plant has not been functioning since mid-2017.

“Maybe it is our own fault that we came to settle here. We are suffering and our government is forever making empty promises to us. We are forever being told about water coming from Okatumba, but that never materialises,” Kayena said.

Kandjala said Amarika was being supplied with water by a tanker, until permanent water supply infrastructure could be constructed.

“It is true that the tanker broke down last year, but we fixed it. As a result, the shortage of water was addressed immediately through supplying water to the community of Amarika.

However, the council continues to face tanker breakdowns, especially tyre punctures due to the inaccessible roads to Amarika. Currently, this activity has been put on hold until new tyres are purchased from Windhoek. It is hoped that this activity will be resumed once new tyres are procured,” said Kandjala.

He said government, through the land reform ministry, has embarked on two projects to address the water scarcity in Amarika.

“A bid worth N$3 052 733 was awarded to Neu-Olulya cc to construct a water pipeline from Okatumba to Amarika in the Otamanzi constituency. The work will be supervised by Lund Consulting Engineers and the final inspection date was 15 March 2019.

“Another bid for civil works worth N$5 787 759 in Amarika/Ongandjera East for the construction of an elevated solar water pump station at Okatumba, about 53 kilometres from Amarika village and various cattle posts, was awarded on 5 November 2018 to Kambwa Trading cc and the site handover was conducted on 28 November 2018.

The work is being supervised by Lund Consulting Engineers,” Kandjala added.

ILENI NANDJATO

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