Relief coming

NamWater has finally responded to calls by Oshana and Omusati farmers to pump water from the Olushandja Dam in Omusati to Uuvudhiya, so their cattle can be saved, amid a worsening drought.

02 July 2019 | Disasters

NamWater is spending over N$2 million to pump water from the Olushandja Dam to Lake Oponona at Uuvudhiya, in a bid to save thousands of thirsty livestock.

The water corporation has finally responded to calls by farmers in the Oshana and Omusati regions to pump water from the dam in Omusati to Uuvudhiya, in order to recharge Lake Oponona in the Oshana Region. The farmers say this is necessary to save thousands of cattle at Uuvudhiya that are under threat due to a critical water shortage.

The Uuvudhiya area has good grazing and is home to a number of animal posts for farmers from Ohangwena, Oshikoto, Omusati and Oshana, but there is no proper water supply.

NamWater started pumping water from the Olushandja Dam a few weeks ago, making use of a 130km-long disused canal.

Last Friday the water crossed the Oshakati-Okahao road, which is about half the distance to be covered.

According to NamWater spokesperson Johannes Shigwedha, following stakeholders' meetings in Oshakati and Outapi in May, they started mobilising financial, human and equipment resources.

“Remember that we had a broken canal and we closed our pumps at the Calueque Dam in Angola and started drawing water from Olushandja Dam to supply purification plants at Outapi, Ogongo and Oshakati. Now we first had to fill up the Olushandja Dam, which is our emergency reservoir, before we started pumping water to towards Uuvudhiya,” Shigwedha said.

“We are using a disused canal, and we therefore started cleaning it first. The water is moving slowly because the soil is dry and there are also several earthen dams along the canal that we are filling up first, before the water proceeds.”

Shigwedha urged communities along the canal to utilise the water, but also cautioned them not to make private off-take points or cause any damage to the canal.

Naturally, Lake Oponona gets its water from the Cuvelai drainage system - a network of oshanas that runs from southern Angola to the Etosha salt pan - but due to poor rainfall this year, no water has reached the lake and it is currently dry.

In July 2016, NamWater started pumping water from the Olushandja Dam, while also making use of the disused canal, but until January 2017 the water had not reached Uuvudhiya.

Shigwedha said this time they are hopeful that the water will reach Uuvudhiya by the end of this month or the middle of next month.


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