Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Begging for water

For the want of a spare part, a tap was lost...

The trouble with a developmental state is that the poor are dependent on the state. Not that this is a reason not to go the developmental state route - rather dependent on a democratic state with a mandate and term limits than dependent on erratic charity or simply destitute. But it does rather open the poor to the risks of erratic government efficiency. For a group of township dwellers in Namibia the issue is water.

The 2000 residents of Oshiwanapenduka location at Mariental in Namibia share a small number of government-provided electric taps as their only improved water source. Since April last year, however, four of the five taps have been out of order. This means that 2000 people, in a built-up area, are sharing a single tap. The municipality in the area is struggling to get spare parts for the taps. A struggle that has apparently been going on for more than a year. They hope to be able to fix the taps in July. The area also has a shortage of toilets.

Without a state mandated to provide water and sanitation, there would be no taps, but surely there must be a way to force governments to take more responsibility for the efficiency, quality and cost-effectiveness of services they provide to the people?

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