UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa - Media Centre - Namibia, 28 February 2018: Water delivery brings relief to thirsty learners

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Namibia, 28 February 2018: Water delivery brings relief to thirsty learners

© UNICEF

By Tapuwa Mutseyekwa

OSHIKOTO, Namibia, 28 February 2018 – When preparing to leave home for school in the morning, Elise Hanyanya’s school bag always contains her homework books and her lunchtime meal. Since December 2017, when the borehole at King Kauluma Combined School in Oshikoto Region broke down, a 500ml bottle of water has become a necessary inclusion in her bag as the school taps have run dry.

This water that the 11 year old grade four learner carries from home, however does not suffice to quench her thirst throughout the day as the extreme outside heat and the physical activities that go on at school, stimulate a great need for water for her young growing body.

“It is always very hot here and before last year, we would just have a drink of water from the school tap, but now we no longer have that,” says Elsie, as she narrates how before midday, she would have run out of the water she carried from home. “I sometimes spend most of the day without water, and this makes me feel very tired and dry.”

The absence of water at the school has also forced the authorities to introduce some stiff measures – including the suspension of the all-important school feeding programme and the closing off the school flush toilets. Learners are also sneaking out of the school premises to go and find water elsewhere, an undertaking which is highly risky.

The sight of a 10 000 litre tanker of water driving into the school court yard, is therefore a moment of great excitement for Elsie and all the learners from the school who will now have clean and safe water within easier access.

As water is being pumped into the main school tank for storage, Elsie and her peers are given an opportunity to fill their own small containers with some of the water. This gives them immediate relief to the ragging thirst and quickly revives their tired looking bodies. After drawing her bit of water from the tanker, Elsie gulps it down in nearly one go and there is an immediate look of gratification on her face.

© UNICEF

Although the Government of Namibia has made commendable progress to meet the universal targets of access to water, persistent drought periods as well as the damage to the laid out water pipes, has left some segments of the population without access to water.

During the 2015/2016 agricultural season, Namibia received below average rain fall due to the El Niño event which was experienced in most parts of Southern Africa. In Namibia, this drought intensified the vulnerability of most of the families in the central and Northern regions, areas which have had perennial low rainfall.

Nearly 311 000 children were affected by the drought as their families and communities were cut off from accessing clean water, while more than a quarter of the families became food insecure because of poor crop yields. In June 2016, Government declared this drought situation an emergency requiring different development partners to help out.

King Kauluma is one of 16 schools that is now benefiting from trucked water supplies to augment the current water shortages. USAID, through UNICEF has generously given extra support to Government by procuring eight water trucks which are being used to deliver water to schools and communities in need.

This support from USAID and UNICEF is paying special attention to the needs of vulnerable population groups, such as children, whose vulnerability increases during periods of water scarcity.

The benefits of having clean water delivery to schools go beyond reducing sanitation related illnesses – school attendance and concentration is also greatly improved as leaners do not need to worry about where to get their next drop of water. By filling the school’s water tank with 10 000 litres of water, the 622 learners and their teachers are guaranteed safe and clean water for the next two weeks.

“As UNICEF, we attach great importance to ensuring that every child has a fair access to clean and safe water as this is a basic human right and a cost effective way to give children the chance to better health and a brighter future,” says UNICEF Representative, Ms. Rachel Odede.

As the truck completes its assignment for the day and packs up to go, Elsie and her mates wave good bye to the drive driver, showing their appreciation to the man who has travelled from afar to bring them water.

 

 
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