Namibia’s water sector faces major issues

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Worker At Waster Water Treatment Facility
Water Treatment Facility

Deteriorating water quality and crumbling infrastructure, combined with limited technological advancements and fragmented investments, are plaguing Namibia’s water sector, an official said Monday.

Speaking at the opening of the National Workshop on Water Security and Climate Change, Namibian Minister of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform Calle Schlettwein said despite the urgency of these challenges, the implementation of crucial water policies and strategies remains stalled, intensifying concerns for the nation’s water security.

Sustainable and long-term access to water resources is imperative for Namibia’s future, he said.

Key adaptation options include promoting efficient water harvesting techniques, endorsing the recycling, re-use, and reclamation of wastewater, and advancing the development of seawater desalination technologies, he said.

Additionally, Schlettwein said, leveraging artificial aquifer recharge can significantly increase the water supply while integrated water resource management is also being championed as an essential strategy to safeguard the nation’s water future.

According to Schlettwein, these options are, however, capital intensive and require innovative financing, such as blended climate financing from various funding institutions.

“On the research front, we need to strengthen collaborative research efforts to gain a deeper understanding of our local climate patterns and to investigate innovative approaches to water resource management,” he said.

Namibia’s geographical and climatic characteristics make it highly vulnerable to water scarcity.

The nation’s arid conditions, coupled with erratic rainfall patterns, have left water as an exceedingly scarce resource while the above challenges have been exacerbated by the impacts of climate change.

Schlettwein said that in the past four decades, the frequency of droughts and floods in Namibia has surged by approximately 18 percent while surface water resources, vital for various purposes, including agriculture, are dwindling and becoming more unpredictable.

Rising temperatures and more frequent droughts and floods are already affecting the economy, with the most vulnerable being communities reliant on natural resources for their livelihoods, particularly subsistence agriculture, he said.

Namibia’s water demand driven by industries such as mining and energy is on the rise and projected to nearly double by 2025 and reach 772 million cubic meters per year by 2030.

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