Botswana water crisis defies a single easy solution. While there is fierce debate around it, there is also broad agreement that demand and supply must be contained and water conservation strategies must be found and utilised.
Debating on Decentralising the Management of Water and Water Resources in the country at President Hotel recently, Kgari Sechele Senior Secondary School students supporting the motion, debated that decentralising the management of water and water resources would give more power to managing water in different institutions.
They said they wanted to decentralise water management in different areas, as it would engage citizens to partake in water distribution and management.
“We would also encourage our communities to practice domestic rainwater harvesting. This will help Batswana store and have access to water more especially in rural areas where water has proven to be a huge crisis. As we know, most of our people in remote areas have no access to clean and safe water. We have also observed that centralisation has brought many challenges.”
They further explained that since water was scarce in the country, it was high time to teach and encourage the general public about the importance of water conservation. Kgari Sechele students also highlighted that decentralising water management in the country would stop the cries of poor water distribution in the country. They stated that Water Utilities Cooperation (WUC) failed the nation.
The students also highlighted that in 2013, the customer base was being raised. They argued that careful prediction would lead to the cry and the poor distribution of water across the country being eliminated.
Their other point was that by decentralising water management, a smaller number of people would be easily maintained by a certain institution unlike currently where WUC has to manage the whole nation.
The students for the motion argued that private companies would come and help finance these projects., adding that many villages would not be affected by water rationing in case of a pipe burst that needs to be repaired.
“We should rather have a small portion of people suffering than a larger one. Only a handful of people would be affected if this motion comes to pass. This will also offload work from the government that already is carrying a burden on its shoulders,” they
However, when opposing the motion, Mater Spei Senior Secondary students said privatisation was more into profit making, which would be costly for ordinary citizens. They said decentralising the management of water and water resources would only benefit the government than its people.
“Yes, we agree that WUC has failed the public, but we would like the government to amend the Parliamentary Act on water. This will bring balance to the water supply in the country including in rural areas. There is no solution in decentralising water management and resources in areas, as we will be facing the same water problems,” they said.
They added that prices would be hiked, as the water would be controlled by private entities whose motivation would be making a profit and hence increasing the gap between the rich and the poor. Their other point was that water was a basic necessity for all and therefore was up to the government to supply its people with it.
“Water is a basic necessity. Anybody who cannot get access to it is regarded poor. Are we going to deny people water? We suggest that we build more dams and use underground water to supply our nation. The amendment of the Parliamentary Act would curb and ensure efficient provision of water to Batswana,” they argued.
For her part, the acting director of Water and Sanitation Services, Tracy Molefi said the debate was part of Botswana’s celebration of Water Day that is always globally celebrated on March 22 every year.
“Each country has the liberty to commemorate this day. We always celebrate this day every year. We engage with stakeholders to ensure that each and every person regardless of who or where they are, participate in this auspicious occasion. It is important to engage children in this commemoration because they are our future leaders.”
“As we know, water is a scarce commodity in the country. This debate helps us learn from you and see which ideas we can use to ensure that we efficiently provide water to Batswana,” she said.