Rural communities in Omaheke, Ohangwena and Erongo regions are in dire need of water, the Ministry of Agriculture Water and Forestry, has reported.
The water situation in Oshikunde and Epembe constituencies in the Ohangwena Region became desperate after drinking water in the two areas was recently classified as unsuitable for consumption.
Speaking at a media briefing this week, Minister of Agriculture Water and Forestry, Alpheus !Naruseb said the water was deemed unsuitable for consumption due to high levels of fluoride or the total dissolved solids.
He added that the traditional water points in the area had become either obsolete or have serious poor quality of water.
“Therefore, some communities have to walk long distances to access water in the two constituencies. The solution is to drill boreholes in areas with good water quality and pipe it to the areas with poor water quality,” !Naruseb said.
The ministry is in the meantime looking at finding a temporary solution while it works on a permanent one.
“The request for bids for the drilling of boreholes in the two areas is underway. This response will be a short-term water supply assistance while the studies are underway to find a long-term solution, including the utilization of the Ohangwena II Aquifer with the availability of funds,” !Naruseb said.
In an earlier interview with the Windhoek Observer, the ministry stated that it needed about N$50 million to increase the amount of potable water it can extract from the Ohangwena II Aquifer in Northern Namibia.
This amount excludes costs for reticulation which can only be estimated after it is established where else the water will be utilized.
Estimates suggest the aquifer could supply the north of the country for 400 years at current rates of consumption.
The aquifer is earmarked to be a strategic water supply to the Ohangwena Region.
So far, approximately 0.5 million m³ per year is being utilized by NamWater for domestic water supply to the town of Eenhana and surrounding areas.
In that interview, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Percy Misika, said up to 1.5 million m³ per year can be extracted from the scheme once the treatment of water is finalized.
“Further utilization could be implemented immediately, but relatively high initial investments are required. In the long term, utilization of these resources is assumed to be very economical, as the running costs are low if the water is used in that region,” Misika previously said.
The project is expected to continue until March 2019.
The existence of deeper fresh groundwater in the Ohangwena Region was discovered in 1998 through a drilling programme for drought relief done by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry.
This led to a large-scale Geophysical exploration through the Technical Cooperation Program with the German Federal Institute for Geoscience and Natural Resources (BGR) from 2007 to 2009.
This cooperation allowed for the further study of the system through an intensive drilling programme which has so far cost N$50 million.
Misika said the study has resulted in a better understanding of the system in that ground water resource has been conceptualized and quantified.
It is estimated that the vast water body resources on the Namibian side is 20 billion m³ distributed over an area of 5000 km². About 10 percent of the total aquifer volume is in Angola.
“Thus far, the study has discovered that the Ohangwena II Aquifer can be used as a sustainable domestic water supply for the region,” Misika said.
Other constituencies that are also suffering from water shortages include Daures in Erongo, Otjombinde and Omuranda communities in Omaheke Region.
“These communities were identified as hot spots. Communities in the Otjimbinde constituency with approximately 7,000 people urgently need water with the ministry busy conducting a feasibility study to construct a pipeline scheme as well as drilling of additional boreholes and the extension of the existing pipeline network,” !Naruseb said.
The ministry said it is ready to construct a borehole for the Omuranda community in the Eiseb constituency.
According to the ministry, Daures Constituency in the Erongo Region is in a desperate situation due to a very poor water quality and poor recharge of the underground aquifers caused by low rainfall.
!Naruseb said the only long-term solution for this constituency is to supply water from elsewhere, which is very costly.