Namibia: Water Woes Stunt Agro Projects in Erongo

A lack of water in the Daures Constituency of the Erongo Region is hampering the progress of at least three agricultural projects launched by the Erongo Regional Council.

The three projects, namely the date project in Otjimbingwe, an olive plantation at Okombahe and vegetable greenhouse at Namanpost were launched in 2014 in partnership with Namsov Community Trust in an attempt to reduce poverty through employment creation.

Erongo Regional Council and Namsov Community Trust each contributed half a million dollars to fund the projects. However, the drought experienced in the Daures Constituency is having a negative impact on the agricultural projects.

Governor of the Erongo Region Cleophas Mutjavikua on Friday said the projects have been delayed by the unsuccessful search for underground water in the constituency after it was noted that water could not be drawn from the boreholes drilled at the projects.

"This means that we spent money, but lost it. Since the programmes are aimed at poverty alleviation and eradication, the governor's projects technical team is now considering other water siding and drilling," Mutjavikua said during a stakeholder meeting in Swakopmund on Friday.

He said the lack of water is one of stumbling blocks that can derail progress in the region.

"Our central coastal area has been declared as a water stressed area in Namibia. I'm in discussions with Namwater to seek possible solutions before this becomes a crisis. In order for water to remain cheap it must be supplied by a publicly owned utility, like Namwater. However, costs to establish water infrastructure are high. Therefore, we are requesting a public-private partnership arrangement or more regulated desalination plants," the governor said.

Mutjavikua added that the country is going through its worst drought in decades, which is exacerbated by climate change.

"Farmers' income dropped considerably and food security is dwindling alarmingly. In an urbanised region like Erongo, we are only realising the full impact of drought now, especially on subsistence farmers, as we are getting our usual mahangu bags or omaere for food security in urban centres. People in urban centres now rely on maize from the drought relief programme most of the time," he said.