Water supply and sanitation in Namibia
This article has been written in 2011 with some updates in 2012. Please feel to update and complete it further.
|Namibia: Water and Sanitation|
|Access to an improved water source||Total: 93%; Urban: 99%; Rural: 90% (2010) |
|Access to improved sanitation||Urban: 57% (2010) 
|Continuity of supply||continuous|
|Average urban water use (liter/capita/day)|
|Average urban water tariff (US$/m3)|
|Share of household metering|
|Annual investment in water supply and sanitation||80 US$ per capita|
|Sources of financing|
|Decentralization to municipalities||Complete|
|National water and sanitation company||NamWater|
|Water and sanitation regulator|
|Responsibility for policy setting||Department of Water Affairs|
|Number of urban service providers|
|Number of rural service providers|
Namibia’s climate is hot and dry with erratic rainfall. Within Africa its climate is second in aridity only to the Sahara. Namibia shares several large rivers, such as the Orange River in the South as well as the Zambezi and Okavango Rivers in the North. But these rivers are far away from the population centers and the cost of tapping them for drinking water supply is prohibitive. Only the Cunene River, which is shared with Angola, provides drinking water for four Northern regions of Namibia.
The total assured safe yield of Namibia’s water resources is estimated at 660 million m3/year, distributed as follows: groundwater 300 million m3/year, ephemeral rivers 200 million m3/year, perennial rivers 150 million m3/year and unconventional sources such as treated wastewater 10 million m3/year. Total water consumption in Namibia was estimated at 300 million m3 in 2000. The municipal sector used 73 million m3 (24 percent). Reuse of water is practised in Namibia in many urban areas such as Swakopmund, Walvis Bay, Tsumeb, Otjiwarongo, Okahandja, Mariental, Oranjemund and Windhoek. In Windhoek, reclamation of water for potable reuse has been practised since 1968. The plant could supply 8 000 m3/day, which was about 19 percent of the average daily water demand of the city in 1997. A new reclamation plant with a capacity of 21 000 m3/day was completed in 2002.
Mining in Namibia makes extensive use of water resources. Particularly along the Atlantic coast there is little alternative to extracting groundwater from aquifers. For this reason the first large desalination plant in Sub-Saharan Africa was inaugurated by Areva on the 16 April 2010. The plant is located near Wlotzkasbaken, 30 km north of Swakopmund. Its maximum capacity is 20 million m3 per year but it will initially supply 13 million m3. Its main projected use is to supply the uranium mine at Trekkopje, located 48 kilometres (30 mi) inland.
Namibia is the only country in Sub-Saharan Africa to provide water through municipal departments. The only bulk water supplier in Namibia is NamWater, which sells it to the respective municipalities which in turn deliver it through their reticulation networks. In rural areas, the Directorate of Rural Water Supply in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry is in charge of drinking water supply.
The UN evaluated in 2011 that Namibia has improved its water access network significantly since independence in 1990. A large part of the population can not, however, make use of these resources due to the prohibitively high consumption cost and the long distance between residences and water points in rural areas. As a result, many Namibians prefer the traditional wells over the available water points far away.
Namibia spends about 3% of its Gross Domestic Product on the operation expenditures of it water utilities—This is by far the highest percentage of all Sub-Saharan countries. Per capita, Namibia spends about 80US$ annually on water supply and sanitation, other countries in the region spend between 1 and 10 US$. Providing access to utility water in Namibia costs 4,000 US$ per capita on average.
Compared to the efforts made to improve access to safe water, Namibia is lagging behind in the provision of adequate sanitation. Over 50% of child deaths are related to lack of water, sanitation, or hygiene; 23% are due to diarrhea alone. The UN has identified a "sanitation crisis" in the country.
Apart from residences for upper and middle class households, sanitation is insufficient in most residential areas. Private flush toilets are too expensive for virtually all residents in townships due to their water consumption and installation cost. As a result, access to improved sanitation has not increased much since independence: In Namibia's rural areas 13% of the population had more than basic sanitation, up from 8% in 1990. Many of Namibia's inhabitants have to resort to "flying toilets", plastic bags to defecate which after use are flung into the bush. The use of open areas close to residential land to urinate and defecate is very common.
- Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation:Data Tables Namibia, retrieved on August 2, 2012
- "Namibia Sanitation Situational Analysis Report". Second draft. Italtrend. April 2009. p. 3. Retrieved 14 July 2011.
- Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (2005). "Aquastat Country Profile Namibia". Retrieved 18 August 2011.
- "NAMIBIA: First sub-Saharan sea water desalination plant". IRIN. 12 September 2000.
- Hartman, Adam (19 April 2010). "First desalination plant inaugurated". The Namibian.
- Hartman, Adam (29 October 2009). "Desalination plant comes to life". The Namibian.
- Banerjee et al. 2009, p. 28.
- Banerjee et al. 2009, p. 66.
- "Namibia Water Corporation Ltd". Retrieved 18 August 2011.
- "Independent UN expert urges Namibia to expand access to sanitation services". UN News Centre (United Nations News service). 11 July 2011.
- Smith, Jana-Mari (12 July 2011). "Red alert on sanitation and safe drinking water". The Namibian.
- Banerjee et al. 2009, p. 56.
- Banerjee et al. 2009, pp. 60-61.
- Cloete, Luqman (28 April 2008). "Namibia is lagging behind on sanitation". The Namibian.
- Deffner & Mazambani 2010, p. 17.
- Banerjee, Sudeshna; Skilling, Heather; Foster, Vivien; Briceño-Garmendia, Cecilia; Morella, Elvira; Chfadi, Tarik (2009). Ebbing Water, Surging Deficits: Urban Water Supply in Sub-Saharan Africa. Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostic, Background Paper 12. Washington, DC: The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / The World Bank.
- Deffner, Jutta; Mazambani, Clarence (September 2010). Participatory empirical research on water and sanitation demand in central northern Namibia: A method for technology development with a user perspective (pdf). CuveWaters Papers 7. Frankfurt (Main): Institute for Social-Ecological Research (ISOE).