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Namibia is part of:
Africa · Southern Africa ·
Water Basins of Namibia:
Cuvelia-Etosha · Kunene · Okavango · Orange · Zambezi ·
Facts & Figures edit
Capital Windhoek
Neighbouring Countries Angola, Botswana, South Africa, Zambia
Total Area 825,418 km2
  - Water 0 km2 (0.00%) / 0 m2/ha
  - Land 825,418 km2
Coastline 1,572 km
Population 2,031,252 (2.5 inhab./km2)
HDIA 0.634 (2007)
Gini CoefficientA 74.3 (1995)
Nominal GDPB $7,781 million
GDP (PPP) Per CapitaB $5,500
Land UseC
  - Cultivated Land 8,255 km2 (1%)
     - Arable 8,172 km2 (0.99%)
     - Permanent Crops 83 km2 (0.01%)
     - Irrigated 80 km2
  - Non cultivated km2 (99%)
Average Annual RainfallD 285 mm
Renewable Water ResourcesE 45.5 km3
Water WithdrawalsF 10.18 km3/yr
  - For Agricultural Use 71%
  - For Domestic Use 24%
  - For Industrial Use 5%
  - Per Capita 158 m3
Population with safe access to
  - Improved Water Source 87%
     - Urban population 98%
     - Rural population 81%
  - Improved Sanitation 25%
     - Urban population 50%
     - Rural population 13%
References & Remarks
A UNDP Human Development Report
B CIA World Factbook and Wikipedia
C CIA World Factbook Country Profiles
D Aquastat - FAO's Information System on Water and Agriculture
E CIA World Factbook
F Earthtrends

> Articles | Projects & Case studies | Publications & Web resources | Who is who | Maps
> Sector Assessment | Sector Coordination | Donor Profile

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Country Profile: Climate, Geography, Socio-Economic Context

Country Profile: Water Bodies and Resources

The combination of low rainfall and high evaporation make Namibia the most arid country in sub-Saharan Africa. Mean annual rainfall averages 285 millimeters, with an 83% evaporation rate. Only 8% of the country receives 500 millimeters of rain per year (the minimum considered necessary for dryland farming ) and only 2% of rainfall is runoff that can be harvested in surface storage facilities. Dams tap water from a number of ephemeral rivers. The total storage capacity of Namibia’s major dams is about 0.71 cubic kilometers. In addition to these larger reservoirs, there are thousands of small farm dams around the country’s ephemeral river basins. The total assured safe yield of Namibia’s water resources is estimated at 660 km³ annually: 300 km³ from groundwater, 200 km³ from ephemeral rivers, 150 km³ from perennial rivers, and about 10 km³ from unconventional sources.

Namibia shares five perennial rivers with other southern African countries: the Orange, Kunene, Okavango, Kwando, and Zambezi. Over half the country’s external water resources come from the Zambezi River, while smaller amounts are contributed by the Orange, Kunene, Kwando and Okavango. Namibia is party to six separate international agreements governing rivers and is a member of the commissions that manage various river resources, including the Permanent Joint Technical Commission between Angola and Namibia, and the Permanent Okavango Rover Basin Water Commission among Angola, Botswana, and Namibia.

Namibia has actual renewable water resources of 18 cubic kilometers per year, only 6 cubic kilometers of which are internally-produced. Percentages of water-use are as follows: irrigation (45%), livestock (26%), domestic use (24%) and industry (5%). Roughly 78% of irrigation water is drawn from surface water. Water scarcity in the interior of the country is routinely identified as a critical factor limiting growth in the agricultural sector.

Water pollution levels are relatively low, but the various kinds of waste increasingly produced by increasing urban populations are beginning to compromise water resources. Major water pollutants are agrochemicals, leachate from dumps and landfills, leakage from fuel tanks and buried hazardous waste, mining and industrial waste, and saltwater intrusion into coastal aquifers.

Country Profile: Legal and Institutional Environment

Legal Framework

Article 100 of the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia and Article 4 of the Water Resources Management Act of 2004 provide that water below and above the surface of land belongs to the state unless otherwise lawfully owned. The National Water Policy adopted in 2000 sets the stage for integrated water management.

The Water Resources Management Act allows any person to use water for personal domestic use without seeking a license or permit. Extraction of water for any other use requires a license, including extraction to sell or otherwise provide to others for their domestic use. Any group of rural households using a particular water point for their water supply can form a water-point user association to maintain the water point and manage the water supply.

Individuals and entities acting in contravention to the Water Resources Management Act can lose their water rights and are subject to fine and imprisonment. Communal land holders have lost rights to bore wells and surface water as a result of the erection of unauthorized fencing on communal land.

Institutional Framework

The Department of Water Affairs within the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development is responsible for all water management and projects, including irrigation planning and development. NamWater is a parastatal institution responsible for bulk water supply and is governed by the Namibia Water Corporation Act of 1997. The National Development Corporation implements new government programs and schemes, including those targeting water resources. The Act establishes a Water Resources Management Agency, a Water Regulatory Board, water-point user associations to manage rural water use, and a Water Tribunal for the mediation and arbitration of disputes over water.

Government Reforms and Interventions

The Directorate of Rural Water Supply has undertaken steps to provide for complete community management of water points throughout the country through the establishment of water-point user associations in the communal areas. Namibia has undertaken several large studies of water demand and water management, and has adopted a series of Master Plans governing water studies and plans, such as dam construction, water treatment, and coastal desalination projects.

The National Agricultural Policy of 1995 has a number of objectives relating to irrigation that reflect the government’s effort to decentralize the sector, including limiting direct government intervention and investment in the sector, and creating an enabling environment that encourages the non-governmental sector to invest in irrigation development and manage operations. However, the policy also assigns the government the roles of: providing extension to smallholder irrigators; encouraging the participation of women in the irrigation sector; and providing national planning, monitoring, and evaluation of the development of irrigation. The Namibian government has been in the process of drafting an irrigation policy for a number of years. The process has stalled for two primary reasons: the need for additional capacity to draft legislation that appropriately accounts for legislation in neighboring countries; and the need for investment in irrigation infrastructure before responsibility for the systems can be assumed by local institutions.

Namibia developed a green scheme program with the aim of developing 27,000 hectares of irrigated land over a period of 15 years along the country’s five perennial rivers: the Zambezi, Orange, Kwando, Kavango and Kunene. The program has suffered from lack of financial resources. Nine thousand hectares were under irrigation as of early 2010. At that time, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water, and Forestry launched a program to revitalize the green scheme program by linking it with existing agronomic projects.

Country Profile: Water Sector Coordination

See Sector coordination sub-page for detailed description

Country Profile: Trends in Water Use, Management and Sanitation

Country Profile: Challenges and Opportunities

Donor Involvement

GTZ is funding a project to encourage institutions in Namibia’s water sector to practice improved, integrated water resource management. The project emphasizes the development of functional institutions, capacity- building for local user groups and technical administrators, and improved coordination and cooperation between the government’s technical services and social groups. In 2005, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency-Namibia (ADRA) began a project to rehabilitate inoperational and poorly-functioning bore wells in poor rural areas; the NGO Living Water International has installed dozens of wells throughout the country.


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Projects and Case Studies

Projects in or about Namibia

(this is a list of the 15 most recently updated entries. To see all projects click here)

  1. Development and adoption of a Strategic Action Program for balancing water uses and sustainable natural resource management in the Orange-Senqu river transboundary basin. ‎(2,583 views) . . Katy.norman
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Case studies in or about Namibia

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5 most recently updated publications on Namibia
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5 most popular publications on Namibia
  1. Orange-Senqu - Preliminary TDA Executive Summary ‎(1,812 views) . . WikiBot

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Who is Who

People working in Namibia

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Organizations working in Namibia
  1. Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission ‎(1,974 views) . . WikiBot

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See also

External Resources


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