On the 13th of February the DRFN convened various key stakeholders in Gobabis for the quarterly steering committee meeting for the Livelihoods Supports Programme, which is currently in its fourth phase of implementation (LISUP-4).
That being said; when one enters Gobabis you are normally greeted by the lovely splendor of water that is found at the Tilda Viljoen dam; one of the largest dams in Omaheke that supplies water to the town of Gobabis. It was indeed a total shock to see that this body of water has been reduced to nothing but a puddle of mud, and this is attributed to the lack of rainfall that is experienced around most parts of Namibia.
The various media houses have been reporting that the Gobabis Municipality and NamWater have resorted to rationing water for its residents with the water currently being pumped from its reserve boreholes and they also have a complete “switch off” period in place where all the water distributions lines are closed from 10pm until 5am ( https://www.namibian.com.na/184537/archive-read/Water-rationing-for-Gobabis-as-dams-go-empty and https://www.nbc.na/news/drought-leads-water-rationing-gobabis.20273). Given all of this, from hindsight it does not seen like there is any pressing need for the residents and businesses of Gobabis to conserve water in any way because everyone went around with “business as usual” and if one did not know any better; you would never have thought this town is running low on water supply!
Another issue that needs to be brought to the forefront here, is the one of climate change and the impacts it will have on the already stressed and strained water resources. Predictions are pointing to less and erratic rainfall, long periods of droughts and in some instances even floods. One wonders if the local authority is planning with this prospect in hind-sight and if at all; they have adaptation and mitigation measures in place? Does the man on the street even have the slightest idea where they will get water, should Gobabis run dry tomorrow? One wonders where are the innovative thinkers who have the solutions to minimize surface water evaporation, to reduce wastage and leakages in distribution pipes are and has the municipality thought of banking their surface water as groundwater and reclamation of waste water as is being done in Windhoek!
The situation of Gobabis hints at what lies ahead for most towns in Namibia, and one can only wonder how prepared we really are as a country for these water constraints which will become the new norm.
The current water level in the Tilda Viljoen dam