Fifteen kilometers outside of Maun, residents of Boro 2 have no portable water, the single most important commodity in the prevention of the novel virus Covid19.
They are victims of a policy war between North West District Council (NWDC) and Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) .
Boro 2 is an ungazetted settlement and WUC policy strictly forbids them from servicing such a place.
Ungazetted settlements were the resposibility of the district council but two fateful events took place which changed the fortunes of ungazetted settlements.
Government, under former president, Lt General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama, first usurped the mandate of the Department of Water Affairs surreptitiously and replaced them with WUC, which prior to that had been solely servicing cities and towns.
Then, council’s water departments, which hitherto had serviced these ungazetted areas, were phased out leaving WUC as the sole water provider in Botswana.
Their policy however remains unchanged, their mandate does not cover ungazetted settlements.
Ngamiland has a long list of such ungazetted settlements, they make the majority of the district remotest areas.
Speaking to the The Voice Online this morning, WUC Acting General Manager Molaodi Dikgang admitted he was aware of the water crisis in such areas. “As of this morning we are meeting with council officials and are going to tour these areas to assess how we can best assist,” he said. “We only became aware of their situation when alerted by council since in terms of our policy they’re not our mandate,” he said further.
He says they’ll upon assessment, see how they distribute their resources to cover such areas. “Where we run short and have budgetary constraints we expect council to pitch in,” he said and added that as of now they have a total of only six water bowsers.
Reached for comment, Maun Administrative Authority Chairperson Vepaune Moreti could not mask his frustration. “These people when under the authority of council were better assisted. The change in policy has created a crisis and tied our hands,” he said.
Quizzed on whether council has a budget for bousing water to the areas Moreti is adamant that they have none and that even if they did WUC policy restricts them from assisting.
It’s a central government issue according to him. His office, he says, has compiled a list of ungazetted areas and will take WUC on a tour and that’s as far as they can do.
Meanwhile in Boro 2, residents rely on a wellpoint dug in the river and offered to them by a good Samaritan.
Kesiametswe Muanarevo, a resident of the village, told The Voice Online that they skip a day between their accessing the wellpoint which means they can go an entire day without water. “There’s no Jojo tank so we queue up and crowd at the wellpoint. We all touch the pipe with our bare hands. We’ve got no choice,” she said in a lamentation of the conditions that transgress the Covid-19 prevention guidelines
In a recent interview with The Voice Online head of DHMT Dr Kebabonye said a leading cause of diarrhea outbreak in Ngamiland was river water.
There has been an outbreak in January 2020 which affected over 300 children under the age of five and claiming five lives.
As things stand, the Okavango Delta inflow is a week or two from Boro 2.