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City of Windhoek nears declaration of category D, severe water scarcity

City of Windhoek nears declaration of category D, severe water scarcity

By Michel Hoases.

The City of Windhoek is on the brink of declaring a Category D Severe Water Scarcity, following an alarming announcement by Dieter Tolke, Engineering Technician: Water at the City of Windhoek.

Despite the declaration of Category C Water Scarcity in June 2023, the city is now facing an even more severe water crisis in line with the Council’s Water Management Plan (2019).

The escalation to Category D is attributed to the ongoing water shortage exacerbated by insufficient rainfall and critically low levels in the city’s three central dam systems. Omatako dam stands at a mere 1%, Von Bach dam at 12%, and Swakoppoort dam at 41%, reflecting a water surface level decrease of over 50% compared to the same period last year.

Windhoek relies primarily on three water sources: surface water supplied by Namwater, borehole water from the Windhoek aquifer serving as an emergency resource, and reclaimed water. However, the water scarcity crisis has led to an increased dependence on borehole sources and reclaimed water to meet the city’s demand. While Namwater previously supplied 75% of the city’s needs, reduced dam levels now see them contributing only 40%, necessitating a heavier reliance on emergency sources.

Efforts to reduce consumption by more than 10% have been hindered by a poor response from residents, resulting in an average increase in consumption ranging from 5% to 10%. In response, the City of Windhoek is urgently calling upon all stakeholders, including businesses, residents, government institutions, and industries, to use water sparingly and responsibly, emphasizing the importance of every drop.

Stakeholders are urged to implement water-saving measures such as fixing leaks, using water-efficient appliances, and practicing mindful consumption habits to mitigate the crisis. Public awareness campaigns and increased education on water-saving techniques are also deemed essential to address the severity of the situation.

Tolke emphasized the urgent need for action and cooperation from all sectors to tackle Windhoek’s water crisis. By implementing proactive measures and prudent management, the city aims to overcome its current challenges and build resilience for the uncertain future ahead.


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The Economist accommodates two interns every year, one per semester. They are given less demanding, softer issues to hone their skills, often with a specific leaning to social issues. Today, many of our interns are respected journalists or career professionals at economic and financial institutions. - Ed.