REGARDLESS of whether water has become the new oil, one thing is certain: water is ironically both taken for granted and serves as the engine of the economy whilst posing as the pinnacle of a community’s long-term viability and its scarcity having a negative impact on local competitiveness.
In light of this and in view of the impending water crisis in Namibia, it is thus highly applaudable that the City of Windhoek has stepped up its efforts to rid the capital of an impending adverse water situation by achieving its water saving targets consecutively for months now and recently announcing that residents whose water consumption exceeds the mandated 40 cubic meters per month will have their water cut off.
Indeed such a bold move supports the cautionary view that the future generation would be at the risk of enduring the burden of a resource curse if no priority attention is accorded in sustainable use of current water resources and investing into long term sustainable water resources (such as a desalination plant and water treatment technology) and other essential public necessities like energy.
This imperative intervention also comes at the backdrop of City Fathers admitting that the current water deficit which has plunged the Central Areas of Namibia (CAN) into a water crisis will persist for the next 8-10 years with normal water supply only achievable through implementation of new reforms that require large sums of capital and at the very least, over half a decade of time.
What Government needs to realise is that we cannot continue along the present path where water resources management is characterised by policies that are unsustainable from any perspective – economic, social or environmental.
There are a multitude of problems, but they all stem from four principal failures such as the refusal to treat water as an economic good, excessive reliance on the ‘Government’ for water and wastewater services, fragmented management of water between sectors and institutions, with little regard for conflicts or complementarities between social, economic and environmental objectives and inadequate recognition of the health and environmental concerns associated with current practices.
Instead we must adopt a new approach to water resources management in the new millennium so as to overcome these failures, reduce poverty and conserve the environment – all within the framework of sustainable development and critically putting key measures to preserve water as the City Fathers have done. This is a key moment towards the required change.
Consumers at large need to begin to embrace the sensitivity of the water situation and abide to the water saving measures being introduced. Looking at the different establishments, potential water saving through water demand management interventions in urban centres varies from four percent to 85 percent by installing devices such as dual flush toilets, water efficient shower heads, fixing leaks and re-use of grey water for gardening a reality that can save one a potential water cut.
In closing, few issues have achieved the same pre-eminence as water and as it pervades society and is critical for long-term economic development, human health and social welfare and environmental sustainability, Government cannot afford to employ a pedestrian approach to this looming crisis.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015