Hand-washing made easy for the Muyengas

The Muyenga family benefits from UNDP’s Covid-19 emergency response

July 21, 2020

The youngest of the Muyenga family washes his hands using the newly installed tippy-tap Photo: Development Workshop Namibia


Mr Muyenga Petru, a pensioner in his late 60's from the Ndama informal settlement in the Kavango East region, has had a long-term concern with the hygiene of his family.  Living with three other unemployed adults and seven children, he has tried to carry out initiatives to address these concerns but to no avail due to lack of funds and the dampening conditions in the settlement. The Muyenga family is a member of the Khoe-San-speaking indigenous hunter-gatherer groups that are the first nations of Southern Africa. The San people, like Muyenga and his family, were the first to settle in the Rundu area and many San people’s territories span across Botswana, Namibia, Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and South Africa.

Mr Muyenga Petru, a beneficiary of the UNDP Namibia emergency response project

Ndama is the biggest informal settlement in Rundu with an estimated 10 000 of the residents living in small and overcrowded houses. The houses are predominantly made up of zinc, wooden poles and clay with thatched roofs. Residents use candles for lighting, firewood for cooking and pit latrines for defecation because basic amenities such as electricity and sewer lines are lacking in the area.

Like the majority of the Ndama community, the Muyenga family does not have access to adequate sanitation facilities and practices open defecation, which is a concern to the family too. “I built a pit latrine for my family to use, but it fills up very quickly because we were too many that were using it, so we stopped using it”.  The nearest water point is at a school built for the San community by the Government. The school is 10 minutes away and only has sufficient water during the evening where long queues and hours of waiting are expected. “There is a lack of hand-washing efforts in my house because of the lack of water”, he stated. 

A volunteer from the Development Workshop of Namibia trains the Muyenga family on how to use the tippy-tap

Tippy-taps and sanitation

Mr Muyenga and his family are one of the thousands of beneficiaries of the UNDP Namibia COVID-19 emergency response project. The project is implemented by the Development Workshop Namibia (DWN), a local Non-Governmental Organisation. The project is targeting those furthest left behind, particularly the marginalized, women, children and people with disabilities.

In addition, for every tippy tap installed, the project also provides two-litres of soap and COVID-19 risk-communication material, including posters and pamphlets to have in the household. “My family can now frequently wash their hands with the soap provided, while the pamphlets are also educating my children and I on COVID-19, as well as hygiene and sanitation,” he said. The project specifically translated the COVID-19 information material into local languages so that they are handy at any time in the households and community. “The family was particularly happy that they received information in Rukwangali, a local language that the younger children can read, understand and translate to the elders”, Ms Rudo Mutetwa, DWN Kavango East Regional Coordinator, stated.

The emergency response project is running for 10 weeks and the DWN volunteers will install a total of 4000 tippy taps in the Ndama informal settlement. Additionally, the project will install a total of 40 000 tippy taps across four regions in Namibia. Furthermore, the project is part of greater efforts by the United Nations System in Namibia to support the Government in the fight against COVID-19.