Cross-linked with Future Challenges’ site
The arid nation of Namibia has a newly discovered aquifer called Ohangwena II, that spans its northeast region, which flows under the boundary between Angola and Namibia. The country is considered one of the driest in Sub-Sahara Africa, as it is largely covered by the Namib Desert. This is especially significant because the nation faces further desertification in the face of climate change.
The 800,000 people who live in the area currently depend on a 40-year-old canal that crosses the Namibia-Angola border for their drinking water. The new aquifer could supply water to the residents of Northern Namibia (who comprise 40 percent of the population) for an estimated 400 years. Historically, the scarcity of drinking water sources in the area has limited the scope of development. The discovery of the aquifer Ohangwena II means new opportunities and new challenges.
In response to this discovery, Namibia’s Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry announced on July 11, 2012 that his ministry will host a water investment conference in September to bring together the major players in the water sector. This includes the private sector, as financiers and equipment manufacturers would be essential to attracting private investment. Notably absent from the list of attendees are local residents of Northern Namibia.
The opportunity here is ripe. Public-private partnerships can ensure that all Namibians have access to safe water sources. However, the challenge of balancing profit with sustainability looms overhead. GRAIN’s report entitled, “Squeezing Africa Dry: Behind Every Land Grab is a Water Grab” warns of the dangers of privatizing water resources in the context of increasing water scarcity and increased propensity for water conflicts. These dangers are already seen at the Ethiopia-Kenya border and near Ethiopia’s Alwero River in the Gambella region, where deadly conflict brewed over Saudi Star Development Company Continue reading