Solar pumps provide Nama population with water access and year-round agriculture
The 21,000 km2 Nama reserve south of Maltahöhe and Mariental in Namibia was repeatedly hit by severe droughts for eight years, which most of the Nama farmers’ livestock did not survive. Since 2021, water has been available again thanks to heavy rainfall, but it is often at a great depth so that it cannot be used by the farmers. The fact that around 300 of the 453 existing wells only work to a limited extent or are completely defective makes access to a stable water supply even more difficult. Water can currently only be drawn from the few intact boreholes and the diesel pumps are expensive to operate, meaning that agricultural activities barely pay for themselves and cannot be expanded.
Within the framework of this project, the existing wells are to be repaired and local access to water secured in the long term in order to secure and expand the agricultural activities of the Nama living there. In addition to the refurbishment of solar-powered groundwater pumps, water collection tanks, distribution systems and water pipes are to be installed.
The non-profit partner organisation CommonWaters Maltahöhe, based on Namseb Farm, Maltahöhe, in southern Namibia, is committed to improving the water supply in the Nama people’s territory. Since 2021, the organisation has been repairing water pumps in the region, supported by its German partner association CommonWaters e.V. CommonWaters Maltahöhe works closely with the local water regulatory authority.
First, the existing wells are to be mapped and evaluated with the help of a traffic light system in order to identify the wells that can be repaired and finally to refurbish 15 selected sites according to need.
In order to enable maintenance and repairs in the long term, the residents of the individual locations form water committees to collect a small contribution among themselves – the so-called “solar cent” – for the use of the pump. In addition, they appoint a responsible person who keeps track of the water use and reports it to the partner organisation. The amount to be paid depends on the type of water use (horticulture or livestock farming) and the number of animals to be supplied. Another aspect of the project is that the farmers expand their agricultural skills through training on solar-powered drip irrigation and establish their own irrigation gardens – for self-sufficiency as well as for commercial cultivation. The training is carried out in cooperation with the GIZ project Farming4Resilience, whose team accompanies and advises the farmers over a longer period of time.