On 2 December 2015, the Hanns Seidel Foundation Namibia (HSF), City of Windhoek (CoW) and Desert Research Foundation of Namibia (DRFN) held a public dialogue in the captial city to focus on how to collectively act to save water in the midst of a water crisis in the central area of Namibia. The three large dams, which the city and the surrounding areas rely on as the primary supply of fresh water, have been steeply decreasing over the past three years. Conversely, water demand in the central areas has outstripped supply. The current situation is an unfortunate result of poor rainfalls since 2011/2012, drought conditions and excessive water demand. This situation, if left unchecked, will lead to very negative consequences for all inhabitants, businesses and institutions in the central area of Namibia.

Apart from technical options and solutions that are currently being pursued by the local and national authorities in the water sector, it is imperative that consumers – individual households, businesses and institutions – are consistently updated and made aware of the current dire situation and are motivated to actively limit their water use and curtail wastage.       

Broad-based public awareness on the current water crisis situation as well as a basic understanding of practical methods to save water are key to increase individual efforts to limit water use over the coming six months (a crucial window for water savings efforts). In addition, such combined efforts for increasing the engagement with businesses and institutions has the potential to establish a diverse range of strategies and projects aimed at conserving and limiting the waste of water. Dieter Tolke from the City of Windhoek provided a technical presentation on the current situtation of the dam levels and awareness raising efforts. Lesley-Anne van Wyk from the ThinkNamibia Environmental Awareness Campaign presented water-related aspects of the campaign's educational materials. Dietrich Remmert presented on the potential for interested organisation and individuals to form a coaltion for consolidating and organising water savings efforts.  

Water demand management primarily concerns technical interventions and oversight of water use in order to ensure the most rational and sustainable use of water during shortages. However, without consistent and wide ranging communication raising broad-based awareness among the public about the water situation – water demand management will not take off since the key actors – being the consumers – will have been neither aware of the crisis nor how to effectively deal with it.

To join the water saving coaltion, please contact: enviroproject@hsf.org.na