Friday, January 26, 2018

No Namibia-Angola Conflict Over Water
January 25, 2018
Albertina Nakale
New Era

Windhoek-The Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa has dismissed media reports implying Angolan authorities want Namibia to start paying for the water that it draws from the Calueque Dam.

This follows a report by the Namibian Sun that it appears that Namibia has been defaulting on a deal with Angola under which the northern regions receive water from Angola’s Calueque Dam.

He said the allegation that Angolan authorities want Namibia to start paying for water is superfluous and baseless.

Mutorwa countered that Namibia and Angola remain two sisterly nations with shared borders and shared resources such as water.

“There are no impending ‘water wars’ or conflicts between Namibia and Angola and the two countries are working hard together to realize better living standards for all of their people,” Mutorwa said.

He explained that since 1926, Namibia and Angola through the then colonial powers have been collaborating on the use of water from the Kunene River.

The two countries adopted the principle of ‘best joint utilisation’ in the planning and development of water resources of common rivers.

He said this cooperation has led to Angola conceding rights to Namibia to construct the Calueque Dam and related works in Angolan territory to be able to draw and convey water from the Kunene River free of charge.

This is due to the fact that north-central Namibia has periodically been inundated by floodwaters from the river.

Mutorwa noted that the historical water use agreements make provision for sharing of the waters of the Kunene River, adding that nowhere in the agreements is it provided or envisaged that Namibia would receive water from the Calueque scheme at a cost.

Further, Mutorwa maintained the two countries are currently engaged in bilateral discussions on how to share responsibilities, relating to operation and maintenance of the Calueque Dam.

He revealed that other projects are also underway, such as the Baynes hydropower project, through which the two countries are engaged in bi-national discussions and which are aimed at coming up with joint solutions to supply the peoples of the two countries with reliable sources of energy by utilizing the waters of the Kunene River.

Equally, he said, the recently reduced water supply from the Calueque scheme, which supplies water to various purification plants in northern Namibia, has nothing to do with bi-national issues as implied by the Namibian Sun.

“These challenges have been simply caused by the deteriorating condition of the NamWater water supply infrastructure at Calueque, due to age, which the corporation is currently busy addressing. After the refurbishment of the Calueque Dam by Angola, the two countries are now looking at how to put up a joint operating authority, which will be responsible for the joint operation and maintenance of the Calueque Dam scheme,” he stressed.

The Kunene trans-boundary water supply project is a bi-national initiative, which was conceptualized through the Permanent Joint Water Commission (PJWC) on the Kunene River, a bi-national commission set up to advise the governments of Angola and Namibia on issues relating to the utilization and preservation of water resources of the Kunene River.

He explained that the project is a Southern Africa Development Community pilot initiative under the Regional Strategic Water Infrastructure Development Programme, financed in part by the German government.

The project is aimed at improving water supply and sanitation infrastructure on both sides of the Angola/Namibia border, primarily to facilitate reliable water supply to southern Angola.

Moreover, he said, while the two countries were busy implementing the project, the Angolan authorities opted to develop water supply solutions of its own, which resulted in the Southern Angolan Water Supply Scheme, starting with a purification plant at Xangongo and pipelines from Xangongo to Ondjiva and eventually to Santa Clara, at the border with Namibia.

He added that although these developments resulted in changes to the scope of the project, they did not halt the project completely and it was agreed between the parties that some of the components of the project, such as a new potable water supply scheme to Calueque village in Angola will continue, while the Oshakati-Santa Clara pipeline construction, including pump stations and rehabilitation of existing pump stations, be withheld.

“These projects are currently ongoing, expected to be completed by December 2018, and are envisaged to bring about immense relief to the people of both Namibia and Angola,” he said.

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