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Home The River Basin People and the River Governance Resource Management
The River Basin
Climate and Weather
Water Quality
Principles of Water Quality
 Physical Characteristics
 Water Temperature
 Dissolved Oxygen
 Conventional Variables
 Chemical Parameters
 Nutrients & Eutrophication
 Nitrates in Groundwater
 Biological Parameters
 Qualitative Characteristics
 Human Impacts on Water Quality
Ecology & Biodiversity



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Principles of Water Quality  

The most fundamental human needs or uses for water are for drinking, preparing food and for hygiene and sanitation. To meet these needs, the quality of the water available must pose no serious risk to human health. The quality of water also affects the condition of ecosystems upon which all living organisms depend (UNESCO 2005).

Beyond the use of water for drinking, food and hygiene, humans use waterbodies as sinks for the disposal of waste – domestic, industrial and agricultural. These uses degrade water quality and can have severe environmental impacts, difficult to alleviate even with treatment.

Maintaining water quality is critical for communities throughout the Kunene River basin, and is required to achieve Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Of the eight MDGs or associated targets, protection of water quality in the river system directly or indirectly contributes to the fulfilment of the following four:

  • Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger: Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger;
  • Reduce child mortality: Reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate;
  • Combat disease: including HIV/AIDS, malaria, and waterborne diseases; and
  • Ensure environmental sustainability: Halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.

The three primary forces affecting the freshwater environment in the Kunene River basin are as follows:

  • Geographic and climatic conditions– from low rainfall, high evaporation rates and low run-off availability in the Lower Kunene to temperate tropical climate in the mountainous region of Upper Kunene.
  • Development, including urban population growth, requires economic activity, which leads to increased water demand and pollution
  • Policy  decisions on water resources and management strategies have a direct impact on water quality

Source: Bucas (2006); Walmsley et al. (1999)

Water-quality monitoring and analysis is multi-faceted and complex and is best understood by dividing water quality characteristics into the following four sets:

The above characteristics are described in more detail in the following sections.




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

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