NACSO connects the communities and organisations that manage and conserve Namibia’s natural resources
Public Talk: Water Security in Namibia – Preparing for Access to the Okavango River
Public talk by Piet Heyns and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS): Water Security in Namibia – Preparing for Access to the Okavango River
Namibia is slowly reaching a point where better access to more reliable water resources became critical to sustain future development. In the early nineteen seventies the Department of Water Affairs made an assessment of the expected development and estimated water demand in the country over the following 30 years. This resulted in the adoption of a Master Water Plan in 1974, to be executed over time as the demand increased and funding could be made available for infrastructure development. This was done by using the available information about the known water resources and anticipated development possibilities at that time. The water scheme that would supply water to the central area of the country was called the Eastern National Water Carrier (ENWC) and would be systematically implemented in four phases. After each phase had been completed an additional water source would have been linked to the carrier. Those sources would respectively be the proposed Swakoppoort Dam, the Omatako Dam, the Karst Aquifers and finally the perennial Okavango River. The dams and some of the aquifers were constructed and incorporated over time, except for the link to the Okavango, which had to be completed by 1988. Fortunately, the need for the last link could be delayed over time due to the possibilities for more efficient use of the established mix of water sources that became available because innovations could be implemented that were not known or possible when the ENWC was conceived. These possibilities are the inter-basin transfer of water between the dams to save on evaporation, improved domestic wastewater reclamation, water banking in the Windhoek aquifer, water demand management and the conjunctive use of surface and groundwater sources. After Namibia became independent in 1990 one of the first things that was done by the new Government was to review the implementation of the ENWC to determine if the development objectives were still on the right track. It was also realized by the new, sovereign State that it had to initiate a process to secure access to an equitable and reasonable share in the flow of the Okavango river because the water is shared between Angola, Botswana and Namibia. This process commenced in 1990 and in 1991 the negotiations between the parties led to an agreement in 1994 between the basin states to establish a water commission that would undertake the necessary studies to jointly advise the respective Governments about the development potential and water requirements of each state to enable the basin states to agree about the share of the water sources each state would be entitle to. The presentation will focus on the development of the ENWC and the evolution of the process to enable Namibia to get access to the water resources of the Okavango without compromising the interests of the other basin states and the integrity of the ecosystem.
110 Robert Mugabe Avenue, Windhoek (opposite National Theatre). There is safe parking in the yard which is accessed via Love street.