Namibia’s innovative water system


Photo credit: SciDevNet

Copyright: Danilo Pinzon/World Bank

Lessons from Namibia’s innovative water system

When you have no other options, people will accept anything you put on the table.” : Pierre van Rensburg, City of Windhoek

by Sipho Kings

Speed read

  • In Namibia, municipal wastewater has been turn it into drinking water
  • The technology resulted from water scarcity in the country
  • A similar project in South Africa did not materialise because of fears

A convoy of fuel trucks blocks the single-lane road, moving in a close herd. Warm air floods through the window. The scenery drags past mountains and thorny acacia.

A gravel road leads to the S Von Bach dam. It is one of three dams supplying Windhoek with water, and it is nearly empty.

Windhoek’s water problem

For Windhoek, home to Namibia’s industry and 20 per cent of its 2.3 million people, this is an intractable problem. The national utility, NamWater, says the city has six months of water left. After that, it will be up to people’s ingenuity to keep the taps dripping.

But drought is nothing new in Namibia. The only consistent rivers form the country’s northern and southern borders. Its ephemeral rivers only flow when it floods, looking like lazy brown snakes with full bellies lounging on a parched and cracked countryside.

South of Von Bach dam lies Windhoek, encased in a lumpy basket of hills.

 Read the full article: SciDevNet


Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.