Underground Water Waiting to Be Tapped

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Without proper land use planning and sound knowledge about the country’s water and natural resources, Namibia will not be able to develop its economy effectively. Hence, the Head of Sub-Division for International Cooperation and Groundwater, Rainer Haut, stressed the importance of research surveys on underground water. Speaking at the presentation of the project results on Ground Water Resources Investigation in Namibia, the expert noted that geosciences is a critical component in developing a country and although some may know a lot about the natural resources more technical research is needed on the ground. It is against this backdrop that Namibia and Germany are embarking on a new programme to study water resources and implement integrated water resources management in the Cuvelai Basin. “This is the key to protect a vulnerable environment and to stimulate economic development in an area of Namibia where 50 percent of its population is living,” he said. He elaborated that modern management of the country’s natural resources such as water, metallic and industrial minerals and energy resources should be seen as a pre-requisite for the planning of Namibia’s socio-economic development. With an annual rainfall of 270 mm and more than 2 600mm of annual potential evaporation, Namibia is said to be the driest country in Sub-Saharan Africa. Currently, surface water resources cannot meet the increasing water demand and the potential use of ground water resources is crucial in this regard. Since the two countries entered into what is called the ‘German-Namibia Ground Water Exploration Project’ from 1992-1998, such research has been enhancing interest in this field. In successfully conducting findings on the groundwater aquifers in the Eastern Caprivi, the Eastern Omaheke Region at Oshivelo and in Windhoek, with funding from the German government, the findings of the groundwater resources in these three areas are based on advanced and sophisticated techniques. An analysis of satellite pictures revealed the hydro-geological gross structure of the investigation areas. With electromagnetic measurements from a helicopter, a detailed description of the first 80 meters of the subsurface was also accomplished. Finally, the deep freshwater findings were based on signals emitted from artificial magnetic fields decaying in the ground. Results of the survey conducted over the past two years were successful, revealing new sources of underground water that can be tapped for socio-economic development for generations to come. Now with the phase project that is starting this year to run up until 2009, the focus will be on exploiting fresh groundwater resources in the Cuvelai Basin in Northern Namibia. This is where the vast majority of Namibians reside and such a project is expected to go a long way in promoting development in that part of the country. The Geological Survey of Namibia, the Department of Water Affairs in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry as well as the German BGR, which stands for the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources, will jointly conduct the survey.