ENSURING water is provided to all citizens in the most arid African country south of the Sahara can not be any easy task.
This is something that Namibians have come to terms with, considering this is the only country in the world with two deserts within its boundaries. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that we as Namibians are so cognizant of the amount of water we use.
This fact is so much more relevant in the remote areas of the country where some people have to walk long distances to fetch water.
But, it is perhaps because of the laborious exercise to gain access to the ‘liquid of life’ that people without direct access to water actually appreciate its value more than those of us that can open a tap at anytime to gain access to safe drinking water.
Namibia experiences low and varied rainfall, from a maximum of around 650 mm in the northeast to less than 50 mm per year along the coast.
It is estimated that only two percent of Namibia’s rainfall ends up as surface run-off while a mere one percent is estimated to become available to recharge ground water.
The balance of 97 percent is estimated to be lost through evaporation (83 percent) and evaporation transpiration (14 percent).
In fact, water is incredibly abundant the world over, covering about 70 percent of the Earth’s surface.
However the amount of fresh water available to us is actually considerably less as 97.5 percent of the water on earth is actually salt water, which leaves only 2.5 percent as freshwater.
But, about 70 percent of this fresh water is actually frozen in the icecaps of Antarctica and Greenland.
This leaves less than one percent of the water on earth easily accessible for animals to use, and although this is continuously replenished via the water cycle, the world’s ever growing population is putting more and more strain on the fresh water supply.
However, despite these depressing water statistics a recent Baseline Study Report on Human Rights, released by the Office of the Ombudsman, revealed that the latest national and international updates show that Namibia has successfully met the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) target of making drinking water available, but despite our ability to provide safe drinking water to the masses, water is not economically accessible to a great number of people.
In is in this light that the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa’s statement at the International Water Association’s conference on water reuse, that government will make mega-investments into water infrastructure will make many Namibians, particularly in remote areas, very happy indeed.
However, this announcement should be a wake up call to all Namibians to conserve water, which is becoming more and more scare as people’s standards of living increase.
This fact that government will invest billions to bring water to the masses should in fact mean that we as Namibians have to find ways of using water much more efficiently if we are to continue enjoying increased living standards and constant supply.
By Edgar Brandt