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Low river levels contributes to exacerbation of drought

Low river levels contributes to exacerbation of drought

Niël Terblanché
WATER levels of the major perennial rivers on the northern borders of Namibia have gone down significantly over the past few months while the major dams in the country currently holds far less water than in the previous year.
The Zambezi River at Katima Mulilo Kavango at the latest measurement on Friday was only 2, 34 metres deep where at the same time last year the river flowed at the level of 7, 10 metres. It is a difference of 4, 76 metres.
This means that areas in the Zambezi Region that depends on the flooding of plains in the area of the river for the growth of vegetation for animal fodder and agricultural purposes did not receive the annual water, exacerbating the pressure of the drought on humans and animals.
The situation in the Kwando River is similar with the current level of the water flowing past the measuring point at Kongola standing at 2, 32 metres.
The Kavango River at Rundu is currently flowing at a level of 4, 65 metres compared to a level of 7, 15 metres last year.
The Kunene River on the north western border of Namibia also showed a significant reduction in flow. Unlike other rivers in Namibia the water flow is measured in cubic metres per second. The Kunene River is currently flowing at a rate of 86, 30 cubic metres per second where last year it was flowing at a rate of 722, 50 cubic metres per second.
The only perennial river that showed a rise in the water level is the Orange River on the southern border of the country which rose seven centimetres over the last three day due the floodgates of a major dam in South Africa beingopened for a while about a week ago.
At the moment the Swakoppoort dam has only 14, 8 percent water where it had 40, 8 percent last year, the Von Bach dam has 44, 1 percent compared to 56, 6 percent while the Omatako dam has no water.
To the south the Hardap Dam has 22, 0 percent water compared to 47, 7 percent last year, the Naute dam is still at 92, 4 percent and the Oanob dam is only half full at 50, 7 percent. In the corresponding time last year the Naute dam had 87 percent water while the Oanob dam had 68, 5 percent water.
The lower water levels in the rivers on the northern border of the country are an indication of much less rain that fell in the catchment areas over the past rainy season in countries like Angola and Zambia.

Picture of the Kavango River is for illustrative purposes only.

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