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Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

The Source of Our Water: Namibia

Water in Africa

Africa, Namibia


by Mark Schwartz, Tsumkwe Region, Namibia

Water is supplied from various boreholes, which are dug in key locations (near villagers, settlements, etc.) throughout the region. The water is then pumped to taps using electric pumps. Difficulties have arisen, in that there have been droughts and little rainfall over the last two years, and the boreholes are not so plentiful. Nonetheless, this year the rainy season has started early and people are expecting a substantial rainfall this year. Another major problem concerns the elephants in the region. During the dry season when water is scarce, elephants (and other animals) seek water sources, and often damage the water supplies (pumps, windmills) at the villages, making the water accessibility difficult for the villagers.

I live in the town of Tsumkwe. Here, water is obtained from three local boreholes. Electric pumps propel the water to local homes and buildings. In town, there is adequate plumbing, and running water is readily available. Since the water pumps are electrically powered, however, the water supply is affected whenever there are problems with the town's generator. The water usually doesn't run for an hour each day when repairs are being made to the generator. If the electric pump is not functional for a long period, a diesel-powered pump is used (though it is smaller and not very efficient).

by Deirdre Deakyne, Onambutu Village, Namibia

During the rainy season (December–February) my village is covered with oshanas—small, shallow ponds where the villagers collect water, bathe, and do laundry. The herd boys also bring their cattle and goats to the oshanas to drink, so the water there is not very clean. Because Namibia is a very dry country of deserts, nearly all the oshanas dry up by May.

Luckily, the clinic in my village has a tap with clean water. This is the only tap in the area, so women and children walk as much as eight kilometers to come and collect water after the oshanas have dried up.

By November, the water level is too low for the tap to function properly, however, and villagers must take water from the adjoining well. This water is not filtered like the tap water, and livestock further contaminate the water.

During the rainy season I collect water off my tin roof, using large buckets. Otherwise, I collect water from the tap or well at the clinic.

by Heidi Spaly, Eembahu, Namibia

My water comes from a tap at a school two kilometers away. The water is brought in and kept in a tank. The water is very clean, but I still filter it. There is also a borehole in my village. The water there is usually used only for washing clothes. It is not very clean.

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