Uis schools close over water shortage

PRECIUS COMMODITY … Schoolchildren at Uis look for water to sustain their needs. Photo: Contributed

Some schools at Uis in the Erongo region have been forced to stop their pupils from attending class following a water shortage affecting the settlement over the past month.

Pupils from Brandberg Primary School and Petrus !Ganeb Secondary School have not returned to school since the Easter break.

The water shortage has been blamed on the expansion of the lithium plant and the existing tin mine pumping beyond their table.

Speaking to The Namibian yesterday, councillor Herman Naruseb said the situation, caused by drought, has affected pupils.

“The issue of no water at Uis is becoming a disaster, because we have kids that need to attend school and it is a problem for them to do so if they do not have water.

“The crisis is because Omaruru supplies the water and the pits where the water is coming from are getting dry due to the lack of rainfall.

“Our hope is that the issue gets resolved quickly, and we call on the government to intervene and to assist us with the water crisis we are currently facing,” he said.

The town has approximately 3 600 inhabitants and is well known for its mineral wealth.

Education executive director Sanet Steenkamp said pupils staying out of school because of water shortages is not allowed.

Speaking to The Namibian this week, some pupils from Petrus !Ganeb Secondary School, who preferred to remain anonymous, said their lives are in danger due to the use of bush toilets.

“We are not bathing and as girls, we are smelling, and we are even shi***ng in the bushes and there are snakes there. It is very dangerous. The issue of the water is affecting our studies, because now we cannot attend classes because there is no water,” said a female pupil.

The pupils also say they do not eat on time.

“We are not eating on time at the hostel, and we cannot study properly, because we have to look for water. In the middle of the night we are using plastic bags as toilets because we are scared to go to the bushes at that time. We seriously need help, because this is making us depressed,” said one pupil.

Uis resident Charlothe Naweses (64) said she cannot feed her family due to the shortage of water.

“It’s been a month without water and this has affected me and my family. We are old people and going to fetch water is a bit far for me.

“I have people that are sick at home and now I cannot cook for them and my grandchildren cannot go to school. It is a difficult situation.

“The government should also hear our concerns and do something about it,” she said.

At Okombahe, residents and pupils at Gaob Justus //Garoëb High School are forced to find their own ways to survive without water after the aquifer in the area ran dry amid the persistent drought.

The school already struggles with dilapidated infrastructure and the continuous water crisis makes the process of choosing priority areas to address more complex.

In March, the high school went almost three days without water.

Hostel boarders were sent back home and the pupils have been forced to miss out on school with an already challenging curriculum.

Dâures constituency control administrative officer Mauritius Goseb in March said the current water cut was due to a NamWater pipe that burst because the aquifer is dry. The root cause is, however, yet to be investigated, he said.

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