The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank on Wednesday approved a $121.7 million loan (ZAR 1.893 billion) and Euro 3 million grant from the Rural Water Supply Sanitation Initiative Trust Fund to support Namibia’s “Water Sector Support Program”.
The program will facilitate sustainable production and transfer of water resources to improve access to potable water and for agricultural and industrial use. It will also enhance sanitation in rural areas and enrich institutional capacity, sustainable management and utilization.
In particular, it seeks to increase access to sustainable water services from the current level of 85% and sanitation services from 54% to the universal 100% target by 2030.
Namibia is grappling with a national water crisis due to severe droughts. The 2018/19 rainy season, one of the driest since 1981, only received 50% or less of average seasonal rainfall, thereby posing serious constraints to the southern African nation’s economic, environmental and social development agenda.
The program, to be implemented over five years, entails the construction and rehabilitation of bulk water infrastructure and associated fixtures, construction of water supply schemes and climate resilient inclusive sanitation facilities, hygiene interventions and institutional capacity building initiatives.
A key element of the project is sanitation marketing, focusing on behavioural change, Gladys Wambui Gichuri, Director of the Water Development & Sanitation Department told Board members. “It is critical to improve sanitation, including reducing the number of people practising open defecation,” she said.
The project aligns to Namibia’s national development plans and a government priority to boost the availability and affordability of water as a basic element for making Namibia a prosperous and industrialized nation by 2030.
The program is building on innovative technology in sanitation in Namibia which treats its wastewater in Windhoek to potable standards and injects 30% of the recycled water into the system for distribution to consumers. The program includes preparation of studies and designs for direct potable water reclamation in Windhoek to increase the existing capacity by 17,000 m3/day.
At completion in 2024, the interventions will directly benefit estimated 1 million people and 250,000 indirect beneficiaries, mostly women. Rural residents will gain better health from improved environmental and sanitary conditions. Special focus will be given to vulnerable households within the program areas for improved sanitation facilities. It will also provide job opportunities and empower women and youth groups for possible business along the water and sanitation value chain.