Billions needed to develop water sector

Significant investment in water and sanitation infrastructure is envisaged over the next seven years.

18 August 2021 | Infrastructure

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK

A massive N$8.31 billion will be pumped into Namibia's water sector over the next seven years.

These funds will be used for - among other things - the development of the Ohangwena II and Abenab aquifers.

During the virtual launch of the Namibia Water Sector Support Programme (NWSSP) last week, agriculture minister Calle Schlettwein said the aim of the programme is a sustainable water supply and improved access to safe drinking water for human consumption and for industries.

The expansion of water purification facilities at Rundu and Oshakati will also be included under the programme.

Schlettwein said government signed a loan agreement with the African Development Bank (AfDB) as well as the African Development Fund in June 2020, which is set to be implemented over four years.

The agreement consists of a loan of more than N$1.8 billion as well as N$51.6 million for a rural water supply and sanitation initiative.

According to the minister, the German Development Bank (KfW) has already provided about N$870 million, while the Namibian government will also provide N$2.3 billion in funding for the project.

He said the focus of the programme will be on rural and urban areas in the central, central northern, southern and eastern parts of the country, and significant investment in water and sanitation infrastructure is envisaged. He added that water should still be affordable for consumers.

1m to benefit

Schlettwein said about one million people will directly benefit from the programme, while another 250 000 will indirectly benefit.

"The programme will mainly benefit populations in Ohangwena, Kavango West and East, Oshikoto, Zambezi, Khomas, Oshana, Omaheke and Omusati, as well as in areas in urgent need of assistance, such as the Kunene and //Karas regions.”

NamWater CEO Abraham Nehemia said the water utility is in the process of implementing four projects under the programme.

This includes the expansion of both the Rundu and Oshakati water treatment plants, the development of the Ohangwena II and Abenab aquifers as well as the latter's connection to the Eastern Water Channel (ENWC).

The Ohangwena II project involves connecting existing water systems to the aquifer and upgrading the Omafo-Eenhana and Omakango-Onambutu-Eenhana water schemes. This project will be commissioned in January 2024.

A large-scale development for the extraction and collection of groundwater from the area between Abenab and Tsumeb will also begin in March 2028.

This is to harness this up-to-now untapped source of water for supply to central parts of Namibia, Nehemia explained.

The Rundu plant, which has reached the end of its life, needs to be upgraded so that it can purify 40 000 cubic meters of water per day and will be commissioned in January 2025.

The capacity of the Oshakati plant must also be doubled - by building a second plant that can purify another 50 000 cubic meters of water per day. The project is planned to be commissioned by mid-November 2024.

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