• June 2nd, 2020

A call for secure water supply to every household in Namibia

Life is our common denominator but water is our reason for existence. It is self-evident that Namibia is one the most driest countries in the world. There is no life without water and there is no development without water. 
In other words, these are practical challenges facing the management of our scarce water resources in order to ensure our lives and our socio-economic development as a country. Our forefathers as they migrated from Central Africa, it is said that they meandered along rivers. Water defined their settlement patterns. This phenomenon is very much similar today.
Elsewhere, as argued by hydrologists Savenjie and Hoekstra, water resources management is probably as old as the human race. They cited the examples of contemporary civilisations of the Indus, Mesopotamia and Egypt, for the Greeks and the Romans as well as the ancient civilisations in the Americas. 
During those civilisations water resources management therefore included planning, building and maintaining infrastructure for supplying water to the places where people could use it and for defending people against flooding.
This realisation of water management has also been affirmed by then colonial South West Africa and also by independent Namibia. It will be recalled that to address this challenges to water supply, the then President Sam Nujoma of Namibia mooted an idea of transferring water (through water pipelines) from the Congo River in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in order to meet the water needs of Namibia and Botswana, the most water scarce countries in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc). 
The water scarcity of the past is regrettably still here in the present. There is therefore, in my view, a need for increased urgency and a leapfrog determination from all stakeholders especially the young professionals to address water scarcity in Namibia. As we all know, over 60 percent of Namibians live in rural areas according to recent statistics. Many of these people live far from available water sources. Many Namibians drink untreated river water. Some have access to treated water. This imbalance appears to be unabated. That is to say water and sanitation remains a luxury for most people in rural areas.
I am amongst those born on the banks of a perennial river. As a little boy I drank the water of the Kavango River untreated. To this day, many along the Kavango River drink the same untreated water. I remember before Independence, I would visit my aunt who lived over 50 kilometers from Nkurenkuru, in a village called Siraro on the outskirts of Mpungu Vlei.   
The water we drank at the time was from traditional wells deemed untreated, but it was the life we knew. A few kilometers away there used to be a borehole and it was mainly for livestock and it was also said initially it was used by South African troops. This was nearly four decades ago. Today there is some treated water from boreholes in many parts of the country. There is no reason why the people of Mpungu or Siraro cannot drink treated water from the Kavango River which could be supplied through water pipelines or canals. The same for water supply from Zambezi River or Orange River to inhabitants near those rivers.
On the other hand, the regions of Kunene, Erongo, Hardap and //Kharas border a much bigger source of water, the Atlantic Ocean. It is a frontier less utilised and under appreciated in terms of meeting water demands in those regions and neighboring regions such as Omusati and Otjozundjpa regions. 
Namibia currently has only one major desalination plant owned by a French company. Namibia needs more desalination plants. It is estimated that over 150 countries worldwide have since 2015 engaged in seawater desalination industry and currently over 18 000 desalination plants have been constructed especially in countries like United States, Saudi Arabia, Israel, United Arab Emirates, China, USA, Spain, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Kuwait.
I therefore would like to call on all Namibians especially young professionals in all fields to be mobilized for construction of water pipelines to bring water all over Namibia.  Every household in Namibia especially in rural areas need water of acceptable quality and of adequate quantity. I believe that we need to mobilise volunteers so that we can start the process of working on possible sites to lay the pipelines along the Namibian coast and transport such water inland. Amongst such desalination plants we could have one in Kunene Region to pump water to Kunene River in order to reinforce and guarantee security of water supply to northern areas. Another pipeline could transport water through Windhoek to Gobabis. In other words, there is therefore a rationale for conveyance of water from where it is most to areas where it is not.
In the regions close to perennial rivers water treatment plants could be established and equally through pipelines transport water inland for example one to Mpungu, Mururani, Karukuvisa etc. I think large scale water supply conveyance pipelines could therefore be a potential long-term solution to water scarcity in Namibia. The long coastal line for Namibia is blessing and not a curse. Where there is groundwater it should equally be utilized for the same purposes such as the aquifers in Okongo, Stampriet and the Rain Triangle Area of Grootfontein, Tsumeb and Otavi.

* Dr Elijah Ngurare possesses a PhD in Environmental Law (National University of Ireland), Master of Laws in International and Comparative Water Law (University of Dundee, UK) and Bachelor of Science in Water Resources Management (Central State University, USA).

Staff Reporter
2019-07-12 09:28:19 | 10 months ago

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