Schlettwein calls for collaborative action for sustainable water supply

Niël Terblanché

During the commemoration of World Wetlands Day and World Water Day 2024, held in Opuwo, Namibian Minister of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform, Calle Schlettwein stressed the urgent need for enhanced collaboration across sectors to ensure sustainable water access for the nation.

Amidst growing concerns over severe drought condition brought on by climate change and the impact on water scarcity, Schlettwein’s stated that water management and conservation must be prioritized to secure the well-being of the population.

“Access to water is a basic human right, essential for life, food production, cultural norms, provision of health, education, economic activities, and the maintenance of our natural environment, including wildlife,” Schlettwein declared.

His call to action comes at a critical time when Namibia, especially arid regions like the Kunene, faces significant challenges in securing water for its populace, industries, and the environment.

The minister pointed to the government’s efforts to improve water accessibility through the construction of infrastructure such as pipelines and boreholes.

He stressed the importance of transboundary cooperation, praising the successful collaboration with Angola over the management of the Kunene River.

He said that this partnership exemplifies how shared resources can be effectively managed to benefit multiple communities across borders.

One of the key issues addressed by Schlettwein was the need for a reliable early warning system to mitigate the effects of flash floods, particularly in the Kunene Region.

He said that such natural disasters not only isolate communities by cutting off access to critical services but also pose significant risks to lives and property.

The construction of standard bridges over tributaries was proposed by the minister as a solution to facilitate safe crossing and prevent future tragedies.

Schlettwein also pointed to the vulnerability of the region to both flash floods and droughts, exacerbated by climate change.

He said that this dual threat calls for a concerted effort to raise awareness, increase collaboration, and invest in water management research to ensure sustainable development and climate resilience.

Schlettwein’s call for a united front in the battle against water scarcity placed an emphasis on immediate action, collaboration, and investment in water management and stressed the critical role water plays in sustaining life and ecosystems.

The minister said the Namibian government’s proactive approach serves as a model for others in addressing the complex challenges posed by climate change and water scarcity.

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