President declares state of emergency because of drought - Namibie Safari et Lodges - Gondwana Collection

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Gondwana's Newsroom

President declares state of emergency because of drought

Avatar of inke inke - 07. mai 2019 - Environment, Weather

These men are getting water out of the canal which runs from Angola to Oshakati bringing water from the Kunene River to the towns in north-central Namibia. A lot of water is being lost because the canal has been damaged.

Dirk Heinrich

President Hage Geingob declared this afternoon (6th May 2019) a state of emergency because of the drought in the country. He said in a statement, that “the rainy season is almost over and we did not receive good rainfall. This means that we are facing the natural disaster of a drought and many will be affected by the situation.” He further said that during the period of the state of emergency, Government shall endeavour at all times to protect Namibians and their livestock from the drought.

The report by the Namibia Early Warning and Food Information Unit (NEWFIU) states that the 2018/2019-rainfall season has been extremely poor and was seen in the forms of delayed onset of the rainfall season, sporadic and erratic rainfall patterns, as well as frequent prolonged dry spells compounded by extremely high temperatures that exacerbated evaporation of the little moisture received. According to the Namibia Meteorological Services’ rainfall report, March was the fifth consecutive month with suppressed rainfall over the large part of the country. According to the NEWFIU the provisional crop estimates, indicated that all crop-producing areas are expecting massive reductions in the expected harvest.

Experts are concerned because grazing conditions continue to deteriorate in most parts of the country in the midst of very poor and below-average rainfall conditions experienced countrywide. It has been reported that thousands of cattle, sheep and goats have died because of lack of grazing. Official figures show that from the beginning of October last year till the end March this year 30,876 cattle, 24,598 goats, 8,238 sheep, 518 donkeys and 296 horses have died. How much game has died because of the drought is not known at this stage. Water availability for livestock has become a problem too in some parts of the country.

In general the water situation is critical, especially the supply of drinking water to towns and cities since the dams have not received any inflow except for the Naute Dam in the south.

The three dams supplying Windhoek, Karibib and Okahandja with water are filled less than a fifth of full capacity – 19,5 percent. The four dams supplying water to Gobabis only have 2,0 percent left. Namibia´s largest dam is filled only by 22, 5 percent and irrigation farmers below the dam are worried that the water will not last till next year and production of animal fodder and cereals will come to a standstill.

It is easy for those who have a tap at home and water available all the time. Some people have to fetch water for the family like this young girl with her brother. A donkey is carrying the heavy 20 l canisters.

To worsen the situation people are not saving water, and Windhoekers have for months not saved at least 10 percent of their normal consumption. In some towns huge amounts of fresh drinking water is being lost because of pipe leakages, and the canals in the country transporting water to towns and dams are damaged at numerous places leading to valuable waterbeing lost.

Namibia´s perennial rivers, the Kunene, Okavango, Kwando, Zambezi and Chobe in the north, as well as the Orange in the south are at the lowest level this time of the year for the last four rainy seasons. The level of the Zambezi at Katima Mulilo was at 2.34 meters last week Friday (3rd May 2019) and at 7.10 m on the 3rd May 2018. The Okavango at Rundu at 4.65 m and a year ago at 7.15 m. The Kwando at Kongola at 2.32 m and the Orange River at Sendelingsdrift at 0.27 m. The Kunene was flowing at 86.30 m³/sec on the and a year ago at 722.50 m³/sec.

Five dams – Omatako Dam, Otjivero Silt Dam, Bondels Dam, Omaruru Delta Dam and Omatjenne Dam – are empty and dry and some boreholes supplying towns are running dry.

Cabinet has announced on the 3rd May 2019 that it has approved comprehensive drought relief interventions worth 442.7 million Namibia Dollar to assist drought-affected communities. The duration for the implementation of drought relief activities started on the 1st April this year and ends on the 31st March 2020 or until the budget is depleted, whichever comes first.

NamWater announced that all the dams in the country were filled with 28,6 percent of their full capacity on Monday 6th May 2019. This means there are only 200,206 million cubic metres of water in all the dams. The smaller Naute Dam has more water (76,723 million/m³) than the Hardap Dam (65,960 million/m³) at the moment. Last year at the same time there were 44,4 percent and 312,266 million / m³ country wide available. The Hardap Dam at Mariental can store 294,593 million/m³. This means that all the water presently available in all the dams would not fill the Hardap Dam. If all 17 dams in the country are full, they store 695,984 million/m³. 

These boys seemed to have fun fetching water with an ox-wagon, travelling next to a main road in the Kavango-East Region. People who have to fetch water some distance away waste less water than people who have a tap in their house or nearby.

On Monday this week (6th May 2019) NamWater announced the following percentages for the different dams and in brackets the percentage last year at the same time: 

Swakoppoort dam 14,3% (40,1%)

Von Bach dam 43,8% (56,2%)

Omatako dam 0,0% (7,1%)

SUBTOTAL CENTRAL 19,5% (35,8%)

Friedennau dam 27,4% (38,7%)

Goreangab dam 100,0% (100,2%)


Otjivero dam 3,3% (9,6%)

Otjivero silt dam 0,0% (0,0%)

Tilda-Viljoen dam 3,6% (31,9%)

Daan-Viljoen dam 2,3% (22,4%)


Hardap dam 22,4% (47,2%)

Naute dam 91,8% (86,4%)

Oanob dam 50,4% (68,1%)

Dreihuk dam 0,5% (9,6%)

Bondels dam 0,0% (3,1%)

SUBTOTAL SOUTH 37,3% (55,0%)

Olushandja dam 9,5% (31,3%)

Omaruru Delta dam 0,0% (0,0%)

Omatjenne dam 0,0% (0,0%)

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