A Meeting on Water Supply

Stakeholders and role players in Namibia who are in the battle to supply fresh water to the central areas are looking forward to tonight’s seminar titled “Cross-border Groundwater Matters” to be presented by the Namibia Scientific Society, where renowned water expert Greg Christelis will be the keynote speaker.

The programme is a GEF-funded, UNESCO driven initiative and will focus on the access and availability of fresh drinking water as a global commodity of cardinal importance to all of mankind.

The role of groundwater for economic development and water security is also on the increase. Currently 75 percent of Africa is dependent on groundwater and these water resources are critically important for poverty alleviation and socio-economic development throughout Africa and beyond.

The GEF Trans-boundary Waters Assessment Programme (TWAP) is a global multi-partner initiative aimed at conducting global baseline assessments of trans-boundary water bodies that include trans-boundary aquifers, rivers, lakes, large marine ecosystems and the open ocean. Within the scope of the TWAP programme, UNESCO-IHP has been entrusted with the execution of the major trans-boundary aquifers component and will carry out an indicator-based assessment of 166 trans-boundary aquifers in cooperation with a network of partners at national, regional and international level.

This part of the project will represent the first ‘baseline’ assessment and strengthening partnership arrangements for future periodic assessments and monitoring. The long-term overall goal of the assessment is “to promote real investment in management and development of trans-boundary water systems through g stakeholder engagement”.

Within this context an overview of the major trans-boundary aquifers that Namibia shares with its neighbouring countries will be examined and discussed.

Government recognised an imminent water crisis in the central areas at the beginning of the year, launching a N$7.6 million pre-feasibility study to investigate all alternative water sources which could be developed to secure a long-term, affordable water solution for these areas as well as parts of the Omaheke and Otjizondupa regions and Cuvelai delta.

Launching the project in partnership with the City of Windhoek, NamWater and various local water experts, Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa, stressed that Windhoek’s runaway growth population and economic activities have prompted the urgent study.

The total water storage in the three central area dams plummeted to a mere 36.6 percent in February this year, compared to the 91 percent in February 2012 and the 63.3 percent in February 2013. The average level now stands at 37.253 percent after slight increases in the levels of some of the major dams.

Fears of Windhoek – the economic hub of the central areas – running dry mounted when recent modelling predicted shortfalls in water supply by 2020, based on the median scenario, and this will be much earlier if Namibia experiences more poor rainy seasons, independent experts have warned.

Driving home the urgency of the project, foremost water expert Chris Brown of Sustainable Solutions Trust said the pre-feasibility study and environmental scoping report would be completed in the first quarter of 2015, after which the full feasibility study will kick into gear.

Mutorwa said developing future options will be more expensive and technically more challenging. “Namibia spends more than eight times more on water supply and sanitation than any other Sub-Saharan country, not only because of challenging climatic circumstances faced by Namibia, but also because government has made it a high priority to provide secure access to clean water for all Namibians and for the country. The event is open for the public and will start at 19:30 at the Namibia Scientific Society, 110 Robert Mugabe Ave, opposite the National Theatre at the Love Street entrance.

Source : New Era