Ordinary Namibians the heroes in Uis water crisis

Namibians from all over the country, especially from the coastal towns, have come together to assist the residents of the small settlement Uis in their water crisis. “We are extremely grateful and overwhelmed by the generosity of the Namibians,” said Uis resident Basil Calitz to namib times.

Stories emerged this week of Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Henties Bay residents wasting no time in making transport, water containers and even cash to fund fuel and bottled water in order to alleviate the suffering of Uis residents. namib times was the first news-paper to report on the deteriorating water situation at Uis in the last quarter of 2016. In a matter of months the water situation went from a potential threat to an all out disaster which need urgent intervention. It is commendable the manner and intensity with which ordinary Namibians extend a helping hand to their fellow countrymen suffering from this disastrous water shortage.
More than 50 000 litres of potable drinking water, coming from Henties Bay, Swakopmund, Walvis Bay, Windhoek and even Gobabis, was delivered in Uis this week after the most recent water crisis went viral across the country. Yesterday the small settlement in the Erongo Region has been without any water coming from their taps for at least 13 consecutive days.
The recent water crisis went viral after namib times reported on the situation, prompting a whatsapp message which was sent out in the beginning of the week calling on Namibians passing through Uis to drop off water. “Most of the old people at Uis don’t have the resources or strength to carry a 5 litre water can,” the message read. Shortly afterwards Pieter Erasmus from the Lions in Henties Bay organised a truck carrying 20 000 litres of water to Uis.
The driver Daan Kotze delivered the load on 10 January. Another truck carrying 16 000 litres of water came from Windhoek. In total, more than 52 000 litres as well as an additional 150 five litre water bottles have been delivered in Uis with more water expected to be delivered this weekend.
“It is absolutely amazing how Namibians have come together to assist the residents,” Calitz continued. One water tanker supplying the residents has been stationed in the so-called bo-dorp. “The water containers are meant for residents without any income to at least receive water during this crisis,” Calitz said.
Uis received water from the Nei-Neis aquifer located in the Omaruru River. Due to the ongoing drought most boreholes have run dry, while the infrastructure distributing the water to the settlement is also dilapidated. “I was at Nei Neis this week and saw that the pump has been repaired. It is pumping water and we should get some water again soon. I do not know how much water is being pumped,” Calitz explained.
According to him even if it should rain in the catchment area and the river would carry large amounts of water, the ongoing crisis would not be alleviated immediately. “If was told that is would take at least six months for the boreholes to receive water. We are in for a long run,” he added.
The Uis settlement Council has in the meantime issued a public notice to all residents informing them that water can only be collected at the tanks between 16:00 and 19:00 – afterwards they are “locked”. “Each household is strictly permitted to collect (a) maximum of 100 litre (4 x 25 litre containers) per day,” the notice reads. Any person found stealing water and/or vandalizing water tanks “will be dealt with accordingly.”
The extent of the water crisis in Uis was also recognized by John Mutorwa, Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, during a field visit in 2016. During a press conference after the field visit he described the situation as dire and said that the national water utility NamWater is busy drilling new boreholes to alleviate the situation in Uis.
Other Namibian towns, especially in the northwestern part of the country, are also affected by water shortages. Opuwo is affected by low pressures in the system.
The Lions in Henties Bay were amongst the first answering the call to deliver water to the drought-stricken settlement Uis – a truck carrying 20 000 litres arrived on Tuesday. Photo contributed

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