National water utility NamWater is in the process of excavating the Olushandja-Uuvudhiya canal and pumping water to relieve the plight of communal farmers along the canal, who have been hardest hit by the prevailing drought.
The water, which is being pumped over a distance of about 130 km from Olushandja dam near Ruacana to Uuvidhiya Constituency, is bringing sustenance to livestock in the areas of Uukolonkadhi, Uukwaluudhi, Ongandjera, as well Uuvudhiya Constituency.
“We increased the volume at Olushandja to sustain the farmers. The natural earth dams are empty, hence we want to fill them up so that we bring relief to our farmers,” said NamWater’s head of corporate communications, Johannes Shigwedha.
Excavations are only being done at areas where the free flow of water in the canal is blocked. The water, which has been pumped since Monday last week, had already flowed more than 40 km by Tuesday afternoon.
There are currently 14 earth dams along the canal. However, only four have been opened to receive water in order to ensure that the water reaches the intended destination. Shigwedha stressed that the water is not purified, hence is only meant for livestock and not human consumption.
Shigwedha said the water utility acted promptly to the government’s request through the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry to clean the Olushandja-Uuvudhiya canal to provide water to drought-stricken communities in the northern regions.
Last year NamWater also pumped water into the canal. However, the process was halted when the area received rainfall shortly after the pumping started. Water was last successfully pumped into the canal in 1998.
Shigwedha pleaded with the communities to exercise patience, saying there is enough water to reach Uuvudhiya. The Olushandja dam – which has a capacity of 42 million cubic metres – is currently 30 percent full, with 12 million cubic meters of water.
Although there seems to be a drop in water levels from its original capacity, Shigwedha noted there is significant improvement from last year. Around the same time last year, the water level had subsided tremendously compared to this year.
Shigwedha also cautioned communities to use designated crossing points, because the canal is deep.
Elderly Ayishe Shaanika, a resident of Okanya village in Ongandjera said he was happy that government has decided to pump water into the canal. As by Tuesday the water was flowing through villages in Tsandi Constituency, the hopeful Shaanika said the water would bring relief to the villagers.
“Government is really assisting us, because our livestock are suffering. We currently give our animals tap water,” said Shaanika.
Meanwhile, NamWater is also in the process of constructing a 13 500 cubic metre reservoir at its purification plant in Oshakati to maintain a secure water supply. It would have the capacity to store at least 13.5 million litres.
The reservoir is an addition to the already existing 5000 cubic metre storage facility, which holds up to 5 million litres of water.