The conundrum of earthen dams
15 September 2021 | Opinion
Namibia is a semi-arid desert country, where rainfall is a seasonal occurrence – we only have about four to five months of rain. The rest of the year, we depend mostly on boreholes and the water from Angola. No permanent river or lake, but when it rains, it pours, and our seasonal river flows madly. We have a seasonal flood that we get blessed in northern Namibia from Angola. My cameo stays in southern Namibia taught me to harvest rainwater during the rainy season in earth dams, or blocking seasonal rivers to trap water.
Regions like Oshikoto, Omusati, Kunene, Ohangwena and parts of Oshana can get very dry between August to November. With the rain long gone, and the water from Ruacana under heavy competition for humans and animals, thirst becomes the order of the day. Places deep south like Omuntele in Oshikoto, Ombuga section that ran across Oshikoto, Oshana, and Omusati. Eastern Oshikoto these areas suffer a lot during the dry season. Some areas do not have a good water table to drill boreholes as the water is saline. Ohangwena and Oshikoto suffer more as piped water pressure takes ages to drive the water to the people, leaving them thirsty for days.
Luckily, lately, Ohangwena has augmented efforts both regionally and individually to tap from the enormous underground aquifer that lies across the region from Angola. Despite these efforts, more still needs to be done to solve the water shortage for people and animals in these areas. There are many ways this can be done and here in I shall allude to a few. Drilling of boreholes needs to be augmented so that more boreholes can be drilled and water be availed to the people and animals. This practice shall be taken upon by both traditional leaders and political leadership of the regions, as well as individuals and cooperatives. The main one which could help cut costs is to dig earth dams across these regions to collect water during the free rain that we receive in abundance in these regions during rainy seasons. Water often gets wasted and allowed to dry up when we can collect them for dry days. Earth dams can be dug individually, or as a community, and as village cooperations. Private companies can also invest in these dams to help people live easier with water which is a basic need.
Regional council must budget toward creating these dams, and can ask central government through the ministries of works and water and environment to avail graders to dig earth dams. This way, the budget can be directed at salaries for operators and fuel plus maintenance, instead of tendering which can be extremely expensive as it often gets exaggerated during pricing.
This can save huge costs and help us do more with less. We can also make it a practice that each company that wins a tender can contribute partly to a social responsibility project which can then be directed towards eradicating water shortage. This will reduce our dependency on our neighbouring countries and the cost of water in the country, although I know some capitalists who believe in bleeding the people dry will not support this. Thereafter, community gardening projects, fish and many others can be practiced along with these earth dams and boreholes as a means to feed the nation and eradicate unemployment.
I wish to spark the brain that could someday make Namibia a great nation, so I believe.
* Salomo Ndeyamunye yaNdeshimona is from the Oshikoto Region.