Women farmers at CuveWaters pilot location in Epyeshona, Namibia.
Photo: © CuveWaters

Sustainable water resources management in Namibia

An interdisciplinary research approach to sustainable resource management (IWRM) has succeeded in establishing a multi-resource mix for water use for the population of the Namibian Etosha basin which can permanently improve the living conditions of the people in the project region. The results have been published in a book.

Making sustainable use of different water sources in one of the world’s most arid regions – the goal of a German-Namibian project “CuveWaters”. Under the leadership of the Institute for Social-Ecological Research (ISOE), scientists in various disciplines worked with institutional partners and the inhabitants of the Cuvelai-Etoscha basin from 2004 to 2015 on solutions for improved water availability. The results of this interdisciplinary research process have now been published in an English-language compendium.

“CuveWaters: Integrated Water Resources Management in Central Northern Namibia (Cuvelai Basin) in the SADC Region” shows ways of combining science, technology and society to establish a so-called multi-resource mix for water use which can sustainably improve living conditions for people in the project region. The book also presents a model interdisciplinary research process, from the establishment of a joint research object through development and piloting of individual lines of technology to communication and dissemination of integrated water resource management (IWRM).

Water for all and for every purpose

The integrated approach described in the book enabled the CuveWaters research association to supply water in different qualities for different purposes, which also contributed to food security, waste water disposal and hygiene. The technological solutions identified and implemented with the Namibian partners include installations for collecting rainwater and storing floodwater. They provide non-potable water for irrigating agricultural areas – an innovation for this region. Many families are able to grow vegetables all year round for sale at local markets.

Adjustment to climate change: blueprints for need-oriented solutions

The interdisciplinary research approach was developed to bring together the knowledge of different disciplines and also incorporate the experience of those affected, so that need-oriented solutions can be developed and embedded in society. To enable them to continue operating the installations autonomously, inhabitants were trained e.g. in the storage and use of rainwater and floodwater for constructing, operating and maintaining the installations.

“The solutions described in the book can provide blueprints for other arid regions affected by alternating extreme weather events such as floods and droughts,” says Stefan Liehr, ISOE water researcher and joint editor of the book. Implementation of integrated water resource management is not only urgent in places like northern Namibia, where natural water sources have always been scarce: there are signs that climate change will increase pressure on water as a resource in many places.



More information:

Stefan Liehr, Johanna Kramm, Alexander Jokisch & Katharina Müller (eds.) (2018): Integrated Water Resources Management in Water-scarce Regions: Water Harvesting, Groundwater Desalination and Water Reuse in Namibia. IWA Publishing.

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