WINDHOEK – The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry will commence work on a bulk water supply project from the Okavango River to central Namibia in 2018. The long−term project aims to supply water to larger settlements, such as Windhoek, where the availability of water is currently under threat. The project is expected to be completed by 31 March 2027. As projected in the government’s Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) for the 2016/17 to 2018/19 financial periods, the project will cost N$3,6 billion. “The project aims to increase water security for the country and the beneficiaries will be the consumers of potable water in targeted areas as well as the nation at large,” the MTEF document states. The project will be implemented in two phases. The first phase will link the Kavango River to Grootfontein, while the second phase is expected to link Grootfontein to central Namibia. The Okavango River runs south−eastward for about 1 600 kilometres. It begins in Angola, where it is known as the Cubango River. Further south it forms part of the border between Angola and Namibia, and then flows into Botswana, draining into the Moremi Game Reserve. Another important component of the project is to replace the canal between Calueque in southern Angola and Oshakati with a pipeline. Feasibility studies for the Kavango−central Namibia link and the Calueque−Oshakati pipeline will be finalised during the 2018/19 financial year, with the construction of the respective phases to follow thereafter. The water scarcity currently experienced in central Namibia due to insufficient rainfall received over the past few years, prompted various stakeholders including the Agriculture ministry to look into possible solutions to the problem. Agriculture minister, John Mutorwa acknowledged during the deliberations on his ministry’s budget earlier this month that options to source water are limited, saying the desalination of seawater appears to be the most viable option. The Von Bach, Swakoppoort and Omatako dams which supply central Namibia (Windhoek, Okahandja, Otjiwarongo, Karibib and Rehoboth) have all received inadequate inflows during the past rainy seasons.