Kaoko Otavi Holds Solution To Kunene Region's Water Woes

02 Aug 2015 16:50pm
By Francois Lottering

WINDHOEK, 02 AUG (NAMPA) – The settlement of Kaoko Otavi, located some 70km south-west of Opuwo, could hold the key to prosperity for the largely arid and impoverished Kunene Region.
The settlement is gifted with large volumes of underground water which has been sustaining about 3 000 people living in the area.
The water, in the form of a fountain, has been the main source of water for human consumption, amongst other uses, for residents here.
Many now believe the underground water could go a long way in serving a large part of the arid region if fully developed.
To prevent damage and littering around the water source, the fountain is walled-off with a pipe that allows water to flow freely into a stream.
The water from this source is used by many residents for drinking, their households, and watering their vegetable gardens.
The water flows down a stream for a short distance only, and although it will be able to quench their thirst, there is no vegetation for the cattle to eat, forcing them to walk over 15 kilometres further for food.
The fountain has been running for decades and several boreholes were drilled in the area by the former South African regime. However, the majority of the boreholes dating back to 1966 have not fully been developed and are not in use.
Any major development around the underground water will mean a better life for many in the form of jobs and ultimately, food security.
It is for this reason that Kunene regional governor Angelika Muharukua recently travelled to Kaoko Otavi to discuss ways and means to optimise the use of the water source, in a bid to ultimately bring about development in the area.
“I want to show the government and particularly the people from the Kunene Region that I am their mother, and that I do not stand here for nothing. We cannot wait for more things, we can start right now with the project and with the few things we have,” Muharukua told Nampa.
She said the region received N.dollars 500 000 from the Namsov Community Trust towards the development of a green scheme project at Kaoko Otavi.
Namsov is a fishing company under the subsidiary of Bidvest Namibia.
The project will among others cultivate onions, beetroot, cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, herbs.
Muharukua at one of the sites earmarked for the development made it clear that the project is for the community and that they must assist with the development thereof and not wait on government to do all the work.
The region continues to be hard hit by drought, which has led to many livestock farmers continuously moving their animals around in hopes of better grazing conditions.
A local traditional leader at Kaoko Otavi, Chief Gerson Kavari said the drought currently experienced in the region has forced many livestock farmers to start looking for grazing in other areas far away from the traditional homesteads.
Kavari said the lack of grazing is not his only problem - predators like leopards and hyenas roam the mountains and are a threat to the livestock.
“If the herders are not around our livestock will be killed by the wild animals,” he noted.
Kavari however expressed optimism at the prospects of development for Kaoko Otavi, saying it will create employment to buffer the hardships of the drought as many residents here depend on farming activities.
The chief said that although some people in the area received drought relief assistance from the Opuwo Regional Council, it is not sufficient.
Asked about tourism in his area, Kavari said tourists only come to take photos and then leave for other places.
Koako Otavi has proven to be an ideal place for city slickers who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The chief said the area is ideal for tourists as many people here still live the traditional lifestyle of the OvaHerero people, while they also have the natural fountain, peaceful environment and mountains surrounding the area.
One could at least put up a camping site with basic necessities where tourists can overnight, he added.
“We went into discussions in the past with the authorities so they can assist us to build traditional Herero huts so tourists can sleep over here at Kaoko Otavi,” Kavari said, with children playing around the chief's homestead as the sun slowly sets.
Development could be good for the residents. It could however also rob them of their peaceful environment.