Tripartite MoU on water preservation signed

By Jeremiah Ndjoze

THE recently signed agreement between the Namibian government and Agence Française de Développement (AFD) will go a long way in ensuring the sustainability of Namibia’s groundwater resources while strengthening the country’s capacity water resource management and drought control, this according to the executive director at the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT), Teofilus Nghitila.

The ED made the remarks at the signing ceremony of the tripartite agreement which was entered into by AFD and MEFT in addition to the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform in Windhoek on Monday this week. The deal is centered around the implementation of a technical cooperation project on groundwater management with the French Geological Survey (Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières – BRGM).

According to the partners, the project, grant-funded by AFD, for a total amount of about N$7,5 million, with a further contribution of around N$850 000 from the French Geological Survey, will finance capacity-building and planning activities on water management and drought control.

Said Nghitila; “This collaboration enters within the framework of the country’s priority activities as it aims to increase access to knowledge and strengthen the capacity of the Namibian government in water management and drought control considering the fact that Namibia is the driest country in Southern Africa.”

Nghitila’s observations are not farfetched. The country’s arid climate and high evaporation rates contributes to the lack of readily available water in the country’s interior and this according to the partners has proven to be a limiting factor for development.

Also present at the signing was the executive director of the MAWLR, Percy Misika, Sébastien Minot, the Ambassador of France to Namibia, as well as Jean-Philippe Rançon, deputy international director of BRGM and Bruno Deprince, regional director for AFD in Southern Africa.

On his part Misika reiterated that with the support being developed as a result of the grant the government will be able to combat the prevailing drought and have a more proactive approach to securing water resources in the areas where it will be needed the most.

“These regions have continuously experienced severe droughts and as we speak still experiencing the effects of climate variations leading to lower than average rainfall leading to an eminent drought situation,” Misika said.

Equally worrisome, the partners have observed, is the fact water management is a constant challenge as many of the country’s perennial rivers are shared with neighbouring countries. This scarcity of surface water has resulted in historical reliance on groundwater – which is limited owing to low recharge rates and periodic ephemeral floods. Hence, the support through this partnership could not have come at a better time. 

“France is strongly committed to supporting Namibia and bringing expertise in this field. As a public financial institution, Agence Française de Développement has a long experience in supporting water projects worldwide. In 2019, it has committed approximately N$21,5 billion to this end, through concessional loans, grants and guarantees,” Minot said.