The Story of Water: Windhoek

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At all three of the FRACTAL Learning Labs held in Windhoek, Namibia, over the past two years, water has been raised as a key issue for the city. This is not surprising. Windhoek is situated in an arid region of Namibia and water is a precious resource. For the past twenty years the average precipitation has been just 370mm per annum and there has been a series of droughts, the most recent between 2015 and 2017.

FRACTAL researchers considered this drought in their paper: The Story of Water. The paper uses a narrative approach to place the most recent drought in Windhoek in the context of climate change – also looking at the water insecurity challenges the city faced during that drought. It hopes to ensure that the story is accessible to practitioners and civil society by simplifying the complexities of the situation and the contested nature of water in the city.

Drawing on FRACTAL’s engagements with the city, the story begins with Windhoek’s recent reality, when demand for water was exceeding supply and the city did not have the funds to respond. It goes on to outline the various reactions to this situation (water conservation by water demand management, a water saving campaign, the Windhoek Managed Aquifer Recharge Scheme, and the setting up of the Cabinet Technical Committee of Supply Security) and explain how national government eventually instructed NamWater to provide funds, enabling the City of Windhoek to recharge the aquifer.

The paper was written with information gathered at FRACTAL Learning Labs in Windhoek. Learning Labs are consciously transdisciplinary engagements with multi-scalar state and non-state actors. The aim of the Labs is to co-produce knowledge and learnings that are relevant to their unique urban settings. Narratives such as the Story of Water help provide a framework for sharing this knowledge further and exploring these learnings from the perspective of local stakeholders, while also highlighting the main actors, their discourses and decision-making processes.

In the long term the FRACTAL project aims to help ensure climate information is included in development decision-making and governance processes, so that  Windhoek can become more climate resilient.

You can read Windhoek’s Story of Water paper here. Two other narratives are in process for Maputo and Lusaka and will be available soon.

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