With Namibia’s urban population projected to increase from the recorded 33 percent in 2001 to approximately 75 percent in 2030, the rural urban migration phenomenon will require major capital investments to provide access to water and sanitation services.
This will especially apply to the very poor who cannot and will not be able to afford to pay for these absolutely essential services, says Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa.
Mutorwa sent out this warning on Tuesday when he addressed the SADC Future Challenges Forum on Food, Water and Energy Security at the Polytechnic of Namibia.
He stressed that in the next thirty years water demand in some specific parts of Namibia will increase significantly and the current problem of distributing the available water to where it is mostly needed will be exacerbated and complicated.
“Developed water sources or resources will be fully utilized and or exhausted. New, more water sources such as desalination plants, new dams, long pipelines and water from international water courses will, unavoidably, have to be developed,” he notes.
The minister says the lack of readily available fresh water in the interior of the country remains the most important limiting factor for development.
“Sustainable management of shared perennial rivers in Namibia is difficult because several countries share them. As water in some areas becomes scarce and expensive, socio-economic and industrial development options become increasingly limited. Cost recovery of the capital spent on developing expensive new water resource infrastructures is likely is likely to become more and more difficult,” he emphasised.
Mutorwa summed up the three broad challenges that Namibia are facing as (1): realisation or achievement of real benefits and the equitable spread or division of such benefits across the entire society; (2): to ensure that development does not undermine the country’s future potential and life support systems and (3): to make optimal and efficient use of resources, opportunities and Namibia’s comparative advantage.
Mutorwa reminded his audience that the correlation between water, food and energy challenges in Namibia and SADC could at best be characterised as symbiotic or interdependent.
“One cannot do or survive without the other one: political activities like any other human activities are not possible in the absence of food and water,” he stressed when concluding by quoting founding president Sam Nujoma who said: ‘ Namibia’s future will largely depend on the people themselves; much will depend on our ability and willingness to respond with innovation and commitment to new challenges.’