Saturday, November 28, 2020

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink

Even in the most apocalyptic of biblical times, drought and floods didn’t happen at the same time. So, as the images of floodwater swilling around Francistown dominated the news, and flood alerts issued by governments, pity the Minister of Minerals Energy and Water Resources (MMEWR) Kitso Mokaila trying to explain why taps in Gaborone and other areas were drying up.

Speaking during his official opening of the Water Pitso Day in Maun themed “Sustainable interventions to address Botswana water challenges”, Minister Mokaila said, “It is evident that we have had changes in rainfall patterns. As you might know, the northern part of the country and some in the kgalagadi have experienced high amounts of rainfall, resulting in floods in some areas, whereas the South Eastern part experienced relatively low rainfalls. This, we believe is attributed to the fact that we do not have suitable dam sites, while on the other hand we are faced with the increasing pollution risks to water resources due to poor sanitation”.

With the current twin crises of water and electricity rocking Botswana department with Mokaila’s ministry dealing with the two resources are probably the most hated and least trusted. In what came across as the creeping in of a siege mentality, Mokaila last week urged representatives from various departments within the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources (MMEWR) who attended the Pitso to stay firm and focused and firm and not be shaken by the many accusations leveled at them, following the recent water and power outages which have befell the country.

Mokaila said they have not by any means, been pulled down by the water and electricity issues, even though they are tasked with identifying challenges and probably finding sustainable solutions to the problem. He said the government through his ministry was committed to ensuring water supply to her people, as well as ensuring water security into the foreseeable future. Mokaila said over and above the challenges, his ministry was faced with a mammoth task of pulling this off, particularly in a drought prone country like Botswana.

Mokaila did not take kindly to a remark by a representative from the Ministry of Health who said that MMEWR should up its game and find appropriate ways of addressing the serious water shortage in the Ngamiland District, pointing out that people have lost their lives to water borne diseases such as diarrhea, among others, as a result of drinking contaminated water which they directly obtain from the Thamalakane river.

The official said even with the high numbers of deaths recorded by the MOH, MMEWR has never convincingly responded, let alone to try to help the situation by way of providing potable water for domestic use.

Mokaila warned “all stakeholders, those from the MOH included” to stop pointing fingers start working as a team to find solutions that will benefit all. He further warned them against peddling fabricated stories.

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