New Era continues with its coverage of the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP) with a closer look at Pillar 4: Infrastructure Development. The second focal point in this pillar is Water.
Namibia has made enormous progress in providing safe water to the majority of her citizens. According to the 2011 Census, 87 percent of Namibians had access to potable or safe water. While this is a significant achievement, access to safe water varies across regions. For example, while almost all households in urban areas have access to safe water, less than 70 percent of households in rural areas have access to it. Moreover, due partly to outdated infrastructure and over-subtraction from ground water resources, many people in rural areas are forced to get supply from unsafe sources, especially in the dry season.
It is a NDP4 target that access to water for human consumption should increase to 100 percent of the population by 2017 and that there should be sufficient water reserves available for industrial purposes. During the NDP4 period, Namibia experienced one of the worst recorded droughts. The drought has not ended and reminds all that Namibia is a semi-arid country, which is prone to devastating drought. The situation is likely to worsen and it is predicted that Namibia will be negatively affected by global climate change, which has become the reality of our times. Availability of water is increasingly becoming a concern as a number of dams and water reservoirs, supplying in particular the City of Windhoek, are running low. Similarly in the coastal towns of Walvis Bay and Swakopmund, the alluvial ground water reserves used for supply are over-utilised. It is predicted that if there are not sufficient inflows into the dams that supply the City of Windhoek, the city will run out of water by August 2016.
The desired outcomes with respect to water security will be the same as under NDP4, namely: To increase access to water for human consumption [that is safe potable water] from 50 percent to 100 percent of the population by 2020; ensure that there are sufficient water reserves for industrialisation, land servicing and housing development purposes.
The following strategies and actions will be deployed to ensure that the goals with regard to water security will be met during the Harambee period:
➜ Cabinet Committee on Water Supply Security: A Cabinet Committee will be established, reporting to the President on a monthly basis, on the water situation including the effectiveness of water management measures.
➜ Implementation of a national water resources monitoring system: There is still a lack of data and information on Namibia’s water resources. Therefore, one of the key actions under Harambee will be timely assessment of data and distribution of information to all relevant stakeholders. This would, for example, allow more coordinated drought relief activities and timely implementation of water saving measures. This will be done by March 2017.
➜ In the north of the country, we will develop infrastructure to use the newly discovered underground water resources: The current state of investigation allows safe assumptions for continuous and back-up supply scenarios. Despite the relatively high investments, the long-term costs would be lower compared to the current supply as the water needs minimal treatment and the capacity of the existing network can be increased. The water challenge in the north will be overcome by introducing a good mix of available resources [surface water, groundwater, rain water and water re-use]. The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry will present a detailed implementation plan on this matter before September 2016. ➜ In central Namibia we will implement the Windhoek Managed Aquifer Recharge concept: This will result in the improved usage of the Windhoek aquifer as a water bank through managed recharge in combination with increased water re-use. The details of the implementation plan are still being fleshed out, and will be finalised by the end of July 2016. ➜ At the coast, focus will be on desalination by using renewable energy (solar, wind): To meet the increased demand for water at the coast as a result of uranium mining activities, we will be constructing a 25-million m3/annum seawater desalination plant by the end of the MTEF period (2016/17 – 2018/19). The target is designed to address water security for the coastal towns by augmenting water supply in order to meet the growing demand of the mining sector and the coastal towns of the Erongo region. In the spirit of Harambee, and to free up resources for construction of water infrastructure in other parts of the country, consideration will be given to develop this desalination plant on a PPP basis. ➜ In the south of the country: We will increase the capacity with 850 million m3 by construction of the Neckartal Dam in the Fish River by the end of the MTEF period (2016/17 – 2018/19). The target is designed to ensure water supply and food security by providing irrigation water and safe drinking water. It will further result in availability of reliable safe water within close proximity to the users.
➜ Incentives to bring industrial sites closer to water resources: The idea is to locate water intensive industries away from the central region and close to the perennial rivers. This would also reduce the influx of settlers from those areas. Specific incentive proposals will be ready by July 2017.
- In our next edition we will continue unpacking the Harambee Prosperity Plan by taking a closer look at Transport, which is the second focal point in Pillar 4: Infrastructure Development.