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UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, Delft (2010)

Water scarcity and human well-being : progress towards MDG targets in Namibia

Heita J.N.

Titre : Water scarcity and human well-being : progress towards MDG targets in Namibia

Auteur : Heita J.N.

Etablissement de soutenance : UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, Delft

Grade : Master of Science (MS) 2010

Water is the basis of life and forms the fundamental resource base for human well-being. Lessons from the literature indicate that poor access to water has profound repercussions on human well-being. Communities may be water poor simply because water is not available or they may have to cover long distances to reach the nearest water source. On the other hand, water may be available but, accessibility may be limited due to otherreasonssuch as lack of capacity to use the water, poor water quality or poor management. The Millennium Development Goal number 7 (MDG 7) aims to halve the population without access to safe drinking water by 2015. By 2009, about 1.2 billion people lacked access to safe drinking water and experience water poverty owing to water scarcity. The study investigated water scarcity in Northern Namibia. In particular, the research focused on access to safe drinking water, impacts on human well-being and its wider implications on the livelihood of rural communities. Additionally, the study assessed the institutional set-up and the effectiveness of government policies towards achieving MDG 7. A total of 93 interviews were conducted. Water availability, accessibility and institutional capacity form the basis of the study. The Water Poverty Index (WPI) was adopted to measure the impacts of water scarcity on human well-being. The WPI provides criteria to measure the link between household welfare and water availability. Five (5) parameters were assessed (availability, accessibility, capacity, uses and environment) and for each parameter a score between 0 and 1 was assigned, where a value of 0 is assigned to the poorest level (i.e. highest degree of water poverty), and 1 to optimum conditions. The study concludes that improved access to water, improves living conditions and well-being of the people.The main factors hindering access to safe water are long distances to water points, poor maintenance and poor water point management. Water scarcity has implications on education and crop production. Much focus is directed to drinking water, however such an approach addresses rather an insignificant part of the problem, because livestock is vital for the livelihoods of the people and despite having water for domestic use, rural communities labour heavily to obtain water for their livestock. Water scarcity indices are important management tools and offer a relative measure of progress (achievement or failure), which can give direction for policy.The study provides empirical data that shows explicit links between water scarcity and human well-fare that can be used to challenge or support the theory. The findings may be extrapolated to larger communities and provide a basis for comparative analysis with similar studies elsewhere.

Sujets water scarcity ; water availability ; drinking water ; government policy ; Namibia


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