Thursday 24 January 2019
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Water Resources Management and Sustainability: The Four’O Northern Regions Perspective

Water resource management and sustainability is a very important issue from several angles such as development of water bodies for future, protection of available water bodies from pollution and over exploitation and to prevent disputes. A paramount issue about water lies in its availability, quality and management. Therefore, extensive hydrological information is necessary to develop water resources and protect them. Certainly, water resources management must play an important role to ensure the sustainability of future mankind. Various uses of water have diminished the availability of water resources, therefore proper management is mandatory. In developed urban areas, water needs to be imported from adjacent of outside areas, and the uses of water much outweigh the supply. Most important issue is pollution to water sources and generation of waste water that have become severe competitor of available freshwater. Recent ideas about environmental flow and waters is fine, however real models of sustainable water resources management are still in needs, especially for build-up areas such as urban dwellings. The concepts of water efficiency need to be more relaxed or broader issues need be considered.
The water resources sustainability largely depends on the proper management and efficient utilization of agricultural water. In this regard, the conjunctive use of surface water and groundwater resources can not only solve the problem of water shortages, but also improve the water uses of existing water resources efficiently.
The realization that institutional problems in water resources development and management are more prominent, persistent, and perplexing than technical, physical, or even economic problems has fostered as much frustration as insight among analysts and planners in water resource agencies. While technicians are willing to acknowledge that institutional factors must be considered. They are not at all clear about just what needs to be taken into account. Although guidelines for water resource planning and assessment documents frequently call for institutional analysis. The typical discussion of institutional arrangements in such documents is brief and unilluminating. Involving little more than an annotated listing of public agencies, statutes, regulations, compacts and judicial decisions.
Sustainability involves a different way of thinking about the consequences and implications of development decisions. This is leading to a new commitment based on fundamental linkages between environmental protection and management, economic development, and the social well-being of people. Sustainability has become a unifying concept emphasizing the need to consider the impacts resulting from decisions and actions taken today, both on those living today as well as on those following in the future. Sustainability criteria must be added to the set of principles guiding water resources planning and management. Considerable effort has been invested in defining sustainability, finding ways to measure it and identifying the steps necessary to include it in the planning and management of complex water resource systems.
The present situation about water resource management and sustainability in Namibia and particularly at the Four’O Northern Regions in the previous Owamboland jurisdiction, namely: Oshana, Oshikoto, Omusati and Ohangwena region, has placed our government in a very questionable but not predicament position as the politicians would have claimed as usual. Our government has complained many a times about water shortages across the country. Yet the government and political leaders seemed to have no interest in water resource management and sustainability. It has become a trend now at the Four’O Northern Regions that whenever these four regions receive a very good heavy rainfall, there is always massive floods that comes with massive destructions of people’s properties and public infrastructures alike. Both rainfall water and floodwater are always standing still in urban areas particularly in Oshakati, some towns in Ohangwena Region and Omusati. Yet the government would definitely come later and spend lot of millions of dollars on the damaged properties and public infrastructures in these four regions. Rainwater and floodwater must be harvested at all cost at the Four’O Northern Regions.
The government needs to allocate sufficient funds as a matter of urgency to the Four’O Northern Regions for the purpose of harvesting this water which remains a mere waste at the moment. This would allow the regional governors and their leaderships at the Four’O Northern Regions to properly plan, design, construct and maintain earth dams that would play a great role to harvest and storing water which will contribute significantly towards fulfilling our water supply requirements, particularly that northern parts of the country. These earth dams would help to accommodate the variations in the hydrologic cycle, to store water and then provide more consistent supplies during shortages.
These earth dams and reservoirs can be effectively used to regulate the Cuvelai River Basin massive overflowing and flooding downstream of the earth dams by temporarily storing the flood volume and make use of it later. Earth dams play a great role in sustainable development in the economy of any developing country such as Namibia. Inter alias, employment opportunities would be generated through establishing irrigation schemes, poverty reduction, stabilizing rural population including nomads locally and reversing the migration of rural unemployed population to urban centers. This would also equally enhance food security to our growing population, protection from floods and droughts to chronically vulnerable areas and generation of the cleanest form of energy, namely hydropower, are some other benefits of water resources development. Our government through the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, along with government agencies such as NamWater, must provide technical support and efforts pertaining to earth dam planners to maximize benefits, while minimizing the costs and take care of risks by applying appropriate modem technologies and design features. The Ministry of Agriculture must also get involved with formulation and implementation of research, monitoring and information management programmes for understanding the quantity and quality of the water resource base and its variability in time and space, and the social and economic forces affecting them.
While NamWater should get involved with the allocation of water resources from these earth dams, taking into account the principle that access to safe drinking water and sanitation is essential for satisfying basic human requirements, that other allocations should be based upon consideration of economic efficiency and equity, and that allocations should be based on sustainability of the resource base, including an ecosystem approach and environmental protection. The incorporation of health concerns into the freshwater management process through the adoption of explicit health objectives in planning, the use of health indicators in routine monitoring and the assessment of health outcomes in evaluation must also be under the Four’O Northern regional governments leadership.
In conclusion, the Four’O Northern Regional governments must be able to provide appropriate mechanisms for management of land and water resources on an integrated basis within natural hydrological and hydrogeological units (river basins and aquifers), providing for necessary interactions with administrative organizations where regions, municipalities/town councils and district boundaries do not coincide with basin or aquifer boundaries. The four regions must also be able to cope with hydrological extreme events and disturbances, particularly droughts and floods and erosion, through implementation of programmes of drought preparedness and flood protection and mitigation including adequate monitoring and early warning systems. And finally, the development and sustenance of appropriate institutions including cross-sectoral water councils and recognizing needs for capacity building, public information and education.
*Kassian T.T. AMESHO is a PhD student at the Institute of Environmental Engineering, National Sun Yat-sen University. He holds MSc. Degree in Environmental Science [from North-Eastern Hill University, INDIA], MBA Degree [majoring in Business Ethics and Corporate Governance, RBS South Africa], B.Sc: Environmental Health Sciences, National Diploma in Natural Resources Management [NUST, formerly known as Polytechnic of Namibia]. His has a strong interest in the following research areas: Environment and Sustainable Development, Resources Utilization and Circular Economy, Ecosystem Sustainability, Green Energy, Energy-saving Technologies, Pollutants Reduction, Air Toxicology, Environmental Exposure, Genomes and Health.

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