|June 23, 2004
Government "ready" to subsidise water for the poor
Government has announced that it was working on a system to subsidise the payment of water for extremely poor communities. Reacting to recent public statements about the inability of the poor to pay for water, Minister of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development Helmut Angula told the National Assembly that Government was committed to paying for the water supply of those who could not afford to pay, including pensioners. "Our policy currently is that everybody pays for water consumed and Government will support the poor. [But] it will be unfair for the Government to pay for the water of the well-to-do," he said.
Angula's statement comes in the wake of a report that 2.000 destitute people living in Windhoek's Goreangab area intended taking the State to court to fight for free water. In this context, however, Angula has claimed that the cost of water was being exaggerated by people purporting to act in defence of poor communities. According to him, critics of the country's water provision system were unwilling to accept Government's offer of subsidising water for the poor, because they expected water to be provided at no cost. He said he failed to understand how pensioners could not afford to pay for their water supply, citing the example of an individual using 25 litres of water a day at a cost of N$5,00 per thousand litres. "The Government has a lot commitment and cannot afford to supply water free of charge to those who cannot afford to pay. Whether in urban or rural areas, everyone with the ability to pay for services must pay," said Angula. (The Namibian, Windhoek)
For a detailed assessment of Namibias water privatisation policy see Labour Resource and Research Institute.