Forschung / Wissenschaft

Natural beauties of Africa – Drought and lack of drinking water

Supply situation of the population in the sectors water, food and energy – Republic of Namibia, by Thomas Wegener, founder of GrowExpress Ltd.

Namibia is one of the driest countries in Africa. More than 80 percent of the country’s land area is covered by desert or semi-desert and the country is regularly affected by extreme and prolonged droughts. The usable drinking water supplies are unevenly distributed and still available potentials can only be found at the permanent water-bearing rivers in the northern and southern border areas of the country. The water of these rivers, the Kunene, Okavango, Zambezi and Orange, must be shared with neighboring countries (Angola, Botswana, Zambia, South Africa). The country’s groundwater is regionally highly saline and thus partly undrinkable or requires technically complex and expensive treatment. There is still potential in deep groundwater deposits in the north of the country, which have only been partially explored to date and which must also be shared with neighboring Angola. Around 90 percent of the Namibian population has access to drinking water. There are differences between rural (85 percent on average) and urban (about 98 percent) areas. Among the poorest sections of the population, only about 50 percent have access to drinking water, which varies greatly from region to region.

Climate change as a challenge for Namibia

The crisis-ridden water situation in Namibia is exacerbated by climate change. In most of the country, the potential evaporation rate is at least five times higher than the average annual precipitation. As average temperatures increase, groundwater recharge will be even more limited in the future. Inadequate strategic planning in the water sector, as well as investment backlogs in water supply maintenance and expansion caused by an economic and budgetary crisis, have contributed to a worsening situation in recent years.

Food and water supply – many development opportunities given

Natural beauties of Africa - Drought and lack of drinking water / PixabayThe agricultural economy that takes place on communal land plays a crucial role in feeding the rural population. Productivity and profitability of small-scale farms are often low, significant storage and post-harvest losses are suffered due to lack of harvesting technologies, and long transport distances make marketing difficult. Other deficits include insufficient diversification of agricultural production, inadequate soil, pasture and water management, and insufficient promotion of innovative business models. In addition, the consequences of climate change are having a negative impact on land use and food production. Poor households and children are particularly affected by the lack of diversified food and feed predominantly on the staple food maize. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) currently classifies 425,000 of Namibia’s approximately 2.5 million