Query: What is the current situation of water in Namibia and can government guarantee that there is no cause for concern for both households and industries in terms of water shortage?
Response: It can be described as manageable but yet demanding in terms of ensuring availability of the required quantity and quality. The fact we have late rains this year requires alternative plans to be in place in case poor rainfall is experienced during the remaining period of the rainy season. The ground water levels have dropped but only a few boreholes are reported to have dried up unlike the previous two to three years. The surface water sources (rivers) such as Kavango and Orange are quite low but the prospect looks good which is true with the dams as well. Most of them have not reached critical points like last year.
Water is a natural resource that depends on weather patterns and/or prevailing climatic conditions. As such, it is not easy for government to predict the amount of rain the country will receive to replenish the country’s water sources. Needless to say, government cannot definitively guarantee or tell both industries and households not to be concerned in terms of water shortages.
However, the government is fully committed to serve the nation as stated in the NDP5 as well.
Since 2016, the government has been working around the clock through the established Cabinet Committee on Water Security and the Technical Committee of Experts to secure security of water supply. It is therefore doing everything possible to ensure that all households in Namibia as well as the industries have water to survive. Namibia being a very dry country depends on annual replenishments from rain. This means, if no sufficient rain is received, water resources i.e. rivers, dams and/or ground water aquifers could be very low or even run dry.
Query: What is government doing regarding the water situation in order to ensure that what was experienced over the past year does not repeat itself?
Response: Plans are being implemented ranging from upgrading water transfer schemes such as Karst to Windhoek, development of new schemes such as the expansion of the Windhoek aquifer (drilling of numerous boreholes in Windhoek), feasibility studies for major projects such as Kavango link and coastal water supply and the implementation of trans-boundary water projects such as Kunene trans-boundary water supply project and the Stampriet ground water project. The GRN has also committed to drilling of boreholes and laying pipelines in the northern part of the country, depending on availability of funds.
Query: Ministry of Agriculture, are there plans to buy the Areva Desalination Plant for about N$3 billion totally scrapped out?
Response: The government considers every available option. The outcome of the coastal water supply studies will tell whether it is a viable option or not. Please take note that GRN is not aware of such a figure of N$3 billion and cannot therefore comment on it.
Query: Government was pushing for the completion of Neckartal dam and it was envisaged the date of completion was supposed to be around December 2017. How far is this project before Namibians could reap the fruits and why was the dam not completed as envisaged?
Response: The completion of the Neckartal dam was supposed to be March 2017, but was initially postponed to December 2017 and currently it is estimated to be completed by June or latest October 2018. The delays in completing the construction of the dam were mainly caused by court challenges at the start of the project, delays in payments due to budgetary constraints and weather conditions that hampered work during the rainy season. After the completion of Phase II of the project more fruits will come from irrigation schemes and its associated social and financial benefits. Those will only be realized after the irrigation scheme is developed. Preparatory work in that regard has started, leading to the design of the scheme.
The December target could not be met and it is not always easy to be spot on with the dates for large projects such as Neckartal dam.
• Ms Margaret Kalo, Senior Public Relations Officer, Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, E-mail Address: Margaret.firstname.lastname@example.org