Namwater is expected to spend about $7 billion on the Kavango Link Project to address water shortages in the long run for the central areas of Namibia. 

Currently, the water levels of the three dams in the central area—the Omatako, Von Bach, and Swakoppoort dams—are alarmingly low at 18%. 

Namwater's acting Chief of Engineering Services, Saltiel Shaanika, says there is a need for a long-term solution to address water shortages in central Namibia. 

"The only solution that is viable at this stage is the Kavango Link; that's now in terms of the long term. On February 27, the cabinet made the decision that Namwater and the Ministry of Agriculture should proceed with the Kavango Link Project. The idea now is to construct a pipeline and other infrastructure needed to extract water from the Kavango River. That pipeline will link up at the open canal we have at Grootfotien and then convey that water to the central area." 

Namwater CEO Abraham Nehemia explains further that "now it is time that we cannot delay this project any further. We are really expecting that within the next 5 to 7 years we should be able to have this project off the ground. This is our river, and we have to use it to develop our country as long as we abide by the required environmental rules and laws. We are not going to handle this thing irresponsibly so that we take unnecessary volumes from the river. That is why the plan is to only use the river during the rainy season."

Work on the project has effectively commenced and is currently in the preliminary stages.

"Namwater has already started with the groundwork; we have a consultant who is in the process of being appointed to start this groundwork, and the idea is to ensure that this project is accelerated in the shortest possible time. It is going to be costly, as the cost is estimated at about N$7 billion, but given the situation we are in, it has to happen," said Shaanika.

The government has already engaged the riparian states that share the Okavango River with Namibia (OKACOM).

OKACOM is made up of Namibia, Angola, and Botswana.

"This project is a long-registered SADC project, so we are not only starting it now; it has been registered as a project at the SADC water division. It has been a matter of when we are implementing this, and the cabinet decision has instructed that the Ministry of Agriculture must engage other riparian states to make sure that we get all the necessary go-ahead." 

Namwater believes that drawing water from the Erongo Desalination Plant to the central area will be more costly compared to the Kavango Link Project. 

"The cost we are looking at is about N$12 billion, which is now the desalination plant plus other infrastructure to bring water here. One of the reasons for the high cost is because of the elevation. Windhoek is sitting about 1000km above sea level, and one needs a lot of energy to pump that water from the coast to central Namibia."

The southern dams, says Shaanika, are also not an option at the moment as the area is also experiencing water shortages due to poor rainfall.

Photo Credits
NBC Digital News


July Nafuka