Some relief for Omuntele drought-stricken farmers

Obrein Simasiku

OMUNTELE - The resumption of the Omuntele water project, which was stalled for years, has brought relief to hundreds of farmers and households. The community has been battling severe shortage of water due to the prevailing drought. Farmers in the Omuntele Constituency mostly relied on ferrying water from Ondangwa, Onyaanya and other nearby settlements for their livestock – and to a certain extent, for human consumption.

Head of the rural water supply directorate in Oshikoto Region Stevenson Tuukondjele informed New Era during a tour of the water pipeline project that about 13 elevated tankers have been erected and operationalised, although not yet fully completed. “I am happy to announce that farmers and livestock in the area of Omuntele and ombuga grazing land now have access to water,” he stated. “The project is not complete yet, but we have stated pumping water into that area. We have connected the pipeline to the one from Okatope and Omuthiya.” He said they would soon install water pumps to fill the reservoir, which is still empty.

“The project took forever to complete due to its magnitude and lack of funds – as a result of the dwindling economy. However, with funds from the Office of the Prime Minister’s emergency fund, work could be done. So, we are now waiting for the N$4.5 million to be released, so that we can complete the whole project and allow communities to water taps,” he added. Over N$50 million have been spent on the project.

During the visit to the area, it was noted that community members are vandalising the infrastructure: some taps are already broken. To this, Tuukondjele was dismayed, expressing that people are failing government efforts, yet they are the first to complain. “This infrastructure came free of charge to the community. For them, they will only connect a line straight to their homestead, but now they are vandalising it. Others climb on top of the elevated tankers to charge their phones and to have an aerial view, but in the process, they damage the properties. These actions should stop; let us be cognisant of the economy,” he cautioned. Councillor for Omuntele Sacky Nangula expressed satisfaction of the realised project, echoing concern that the number of farmers in the area has increased because they heard of the availability of water. He is afraid if they continue flocking in large numbers, the project will not be able to handle the pressure, which would then require additional resources.