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Home The River Basin People and the River Governance Resource Management
Resource Management
Water Demand
Water Infrastructure
The Value of Water
 Economic Value
 Environmental Costs
 Social Benefits and Costs
 Virtual Water
 In the SADC Region
 In Angola and Namibia
Resource Monitoring
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Virtual Water in Namibia  

On a per capita, per annum basis, Namibia has three times more water than France. However, high rates of evapotranspiration create soil salinisation and reduce the soil water available to grow grain (Earle and Turton 2003). Namibia is thus regarded as severely water deficient (Falkenmark, 1989; WRI, 2008).

Though Namibia’s food production is considered high (in particular with regard to roots and tubers which are grown by subsistence farmers), the country imports substantial amounts of cereals as well as important quantities of rubber and vegetable oil. Sizeable exports of agricultural goods (and thus virtual water) include live animals (sheep, goats and cattle) and processed meat as well as cotton lint and fruit (Earle 2001 and FAOSTAT data).

In 2007, Namibia exported some 2.9 billion m³ of virtual water as live animals and meat while importing 120.5 million m³ as cereals and about 2.2 billion m³ as rubber and palm oil (based on FAOSTAT and Hoekstra and Chapagain 2008).

Traded Agricultural Commodities and Virtual Water (2002, 2007)

( click to enlarge )
Source: Based on FAOSTAT and Hoekstra and Chapagain 2008

Namibia’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism calculates differently:

Value of Virtual Water Imports

Namibia imports on average 100 thousand tons of grain every year in order to satisfy demands. Were this grain to be grown in Namibia 300 Mm³/a of water would be required for irrigation. Therefore, grain imports can be considered as imports of 300 Mm³/a of water to Namibia, which is now free for use in other sectors. These figures are of course estimates and as such this notion of virtual water is more ambiguous. However, it is estimated that the cost of supplying this water for irrigation in Namibia would be in the region of N$0.55/m³. Imports of virtual water are worth N$170 million to Namibia in this sense.

Source: MET 2001, State of the Environment Report on Water

A specific case is beer. Total barley beer exports from Namibia in 2007 amounted to 11,852 tonnes (translating into 3.4 million m³ of virtual water as the water footprint for beer made from malt is 290m³ of water per ton of beer (Hoekstra and Chapagain 2008)). Beer exports to Angola made up for 20.81% of total Namibian exports to Angola during the period 1997-2001, in terms of trade value (Kahuika et al. 2003).

Beverages sold at a small shop.
Source: Kellner 2009
( click to enlarge )




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