Water in dams at low levels

17 May 2019
Author   Eliakim N Silvanus
According to reports, poor rainfall has caused water shortages ever in Namibia. 
As “water is life”, as the saying goes, and in this dry time of inadequate rainfall, various dams around Windhoek and the central areas of Namibia are holding less than a fifth of their capacity. 
And in this case, “life” seems to be threated.
Even though low rainfall has been experienced before, many say that the current drought is worse than any others. Namibian cities, towns and rural areas, need water to survive and thrive.  Human beings need water for drinking, cooking, washing and bathing; we cannot do without it and using significantly less of it is a lifestyle challenge.  But, in this extra dry time, like everyone else, I am worried.  I wonder about a solution to this situation.  If it doesn’t rain enough, then what?
It is not only human beings affected by this predicament but animals as well; domestic livestock (and even wildlife) is perishing in high numbers. There are decreased amounts of food for animals available and farmers are really struggling.  They are trying their best to come up with various ways to help their animals.  Hay and other fodder is being purchased for high prices and some farmers can’t afford this. Wells and water points are parched and accessing water can require a long walk with weakening cattle, especially in the northern parts of Namibia.  Farmers are grazing their animals at the sides of the road, on government land, on dump sites and even inside Windhoek – wherever they can find grass.
I remember a frightening story that I was told by my aunt. Apparently there was a terrible famine in the old days due to poor rainfall.  A lot of people and animals were dying because of hunger.  There was no food to eat nor water to drink.  This led a lot of people to slaughter their livestock for sustenance.  But, it didn’t help.  It was allegedly the worst time according to her; she now says these days remind her of that time. 
By remembering what my aunt told me, I feel like the past could become the present. In cities and towns, factories will soon become affected as businesses needing water in their processing plants cannot operate effectively.  Reports say that dams in Namibia are running out of water.  What is the solution?
As a part solution, I think we should be ready to drill boreholes at least to make use of underground water (where it exists).  Also, government must re-think the Areva water desalination plant purchase or else find the money (forget about airports) to begin the expensive and long process of building its own government desalination plant.
But, the most important thing is to come up with effective strategies on how to preserve water.  Even though people are still failing to learn and practice the methods of cutting water consumption, I think we must make regulations that force people to change their lifestyles, even in small ways. 
For example, there should be very limited watering of gardens, no car or pet washing, and limiting laundry loads and possibly not flushing the toilet each time it is used.  Let people invest in deodorisers and disinfectants.
People must be encouraged to re-use dish washing water in the garden, and government must stop municipalities from watering the grass at parks in town.  I see the water sprinklers on in the mornings at the Christuskirche in Windhoek.  Stop this immediately!
In addition, public and private water pipes must be repaired as a matter of urgency (at a cost subsidised by the government) to encourage people to do this.  When we see leaking water mains, the city must be ready to send crews out immediately.
We should organise educational campaigns for rural areas, villages, cities, and towns to teach people ways to save water. 
This matter should not only be placed on the government alone, but on every individual and business. 
Let us all be careful and mindful about water.  We must take action before it is too late.


The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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