Water minister Calle Schlettwein says although Namibia’s water policy and legislations have been ranked among the best in the world, implementation has been a serious challenge. A great number of Namibian people remain with limited access to water and other basic necessities.
“That must change. There is a clear need for us as a country, including the international community, business sector, financiers and household or agricultural consumers to work in partnerships to ensure that we succeed in implementation,” he stressed.
Schlettwein made the remarks yesterday when he addressed a NamWater stakeholder engagement strategy workshop aimed to embark on a new phase of its growth trajectory and service provision, ensuring that it fulfils its mandate.
Therefore, he said, this could be achieved through people who are solution-driven and forward thinking in their deliberations. At the national level, the government has increased its investment and long-term planning focus in the water sector such as co-financing AfDB loans (N$1.2 billion) for water projects in the northern regions amounting to N$643.3 million, financing west coast infrastructure refurbishment N$266.9 million and for Windhoek reclamation works in cooperation with the KFW N$120 million.
He said the government has also taken further steps in developing desalination capacity with the aim to ensure water security for the nation. Over the years, through the Cabinet Committee on Water Supply Security and Technical Committee of Experts, the focus has been driven towards the identification and development of key water sources and infrastructure as outlined in the national developmental plans and Harambee Prosperity Plans I and II.
The list of invitees to the workshop is cross-cutting from international partners, donor funding agencies, SADC representatives, national to local government levels, government agencies and institutions, suppliers, consumers, as well as the National Assembly members from both the government and the official opposition.
He said this is aimed at ensuring that, together, all partners devise strategies, which will make a positive, transformational impact on the national developmental agenda.
Equally, he also emphasised the issue of education and capacity building in the water sector. “I have taken note of the fact that one of the targeted participants in this workshop is tertiary institutions stakeholders. For us to tackle the future challenges in the water sector, we need to ensure that capacity is built on various fronts.
As in all other sectors, we require a strong cadre of new and young leaders, with the necessary innovative edge, to take us beyond where we may be today,” Schlettwein alluded. According to him, there is a 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”.
This, he said, must be done as a matter of strategic necessity, adding 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 have to 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,” he said.