This is according to the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, who was speaking at a water scarcity workshop in the capital yesterday.
Due to prolonged dry spells, Namibia has already experienced critical low water levels in its dams leading to water shortages in the central areas.
The two-day Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) workshop was held to identify and prioritise technologies to address water scarcity and climate change impacts in Namibia.Shifeta said the workshop is important to help find a long-term solution to the water crisis in Namibia and pointed out that climate change poses a real threat to the water sector as a whole.
He also said water is important to economic growth and is fundamental to poverty eradication and job creation.
“Without water there will be no economic development and progress, let alone life itself.”
According to Shifeta, the government is very worried about the adverse impacts of climate change and is cognisant of the fact that it is one of the greatest challenges of our time.
It represents a daunting threat to the planet, ecosystems, human societies, and livelihoods, and is capable of destroying the economy, said Shifeta.
According to him, studies have shown that water availability in Namibia will diminish under a changed climate and that a decrease in run-off and a reduction in underground water tables are expected by 2020.
He said in view of this worsening trend, there is a great need for the exploration of sustainable alternative sources of potable water for both human consumption and economic activities, in order to address this acute water problem in Namibia.
“It is a common fact that Namibia is a semi-arid country and is quite vulnerable to harsh climatic conditions.”
Shifeta added that Namibia has a long history of hydrological and agricultural droughts and that dry hot air exacerbates water scarcity due to high evaporation rates.
Furthermore, lack of readily available water in the interior of the country poses a serious threat to water availability in the country and limits Namibia’s prospectus for economic growth.
Shifeta also said that Namibia has clear policies and plans that guide the management of its water resources. Among others is the Integrated Water Resources Management Plan which aims to enable the country to achieve a sustainable water resource management regime contributing to social equity, economic efficiency and environmental sustainability.
He expressed the hope that this plan will form an integral part of discussions in this workshop and that it will be further elaborated upon, especially in terms of costing with a view to develop bankable project proposals to be submitted for funding by the Green Climate Fund.
According to Shifeta, the government in collaboration with the Climate Technology Centre Network and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, has therefore developed a two-year joint research and development project to prioritise, support and to strengthen the funding of technologies to address water scarcity problem in Namibia with a view to finding a long-term sustainable and comprehensive solution to water shortages in our country.