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Home The River Basin People and the River Governance Resource Management
The River Basin
Climate and Weather
 Principles of Climate and Weather
 Climate of the Kunene Basin
 The Regional Climate
 Climate Patterns in the Basin
 Climate Variability in the Basin
 Climate Classification in the Basin
Water Scarcity in the Basin
 Drought in the Basin
 Rainwater Harvesting
 Climate Change
Water Quality
Ecology & Biodiversity



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Water Scarcity in the Basin  

Water scarcity is a relative term referring to the differences between the availability and the demand for water. The UN World Water Assessment Programme defines water scarcity as being either:

  • Physical; or
  • Economic.

Physical water scarcity means that water demand or withdrawals exceed or are close to exceeding water availability - that physically, the available resources are not sufficient to satisfy all demands. Economic water scarcity means that even though there may be sufficient water resources available, human, institutional and financial issues have limited access to clean water.

The water resources in the Kunene River basin are for the most part relatively undeveloped. There are as yet no large irrigation schemes and water abstraction for water supply and other uses remains below 5 % of the average annual flow of the river. However, seasonal flow variations may lead to seasonal scarcity particularly in the Lower Kunene, where the river is the only perennial water source, for example in the months of October and November when flows are lowest and the demand for Kunene water is at its highest in northern Namibia .

There are however plans to considerably increase the irrigated areas in the basin by 2025. These changes will have direct consequences on issues of Water Security in the basin.

Water scarcity in the basin may be further aggravated by:

  • Population growth;
  • Increased food production;
  • Climate change and variability;
  • Changes in land use;
  • Changes in water quality and demand;
  • Changes in sectoral resources and institutional capacity;
  • Changes in poverty and economic policy;
  • Changes in legislation and water resource management practices;
  • Political realities; and
  • Sociological issues.




Explore the sub-basins of the Kunene River

Video Interviews about the integrated and transboundary management of the Kunene River basin

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