Namibia is one of the driest countries south of the Sahara. Only about one percent of the surface counts as arable land. Most of Namibia's farms do livestock farming. In the moister north, cattle is kept, whereas in the drier south mainly sheep. Just on a few farms, particularly in the north-east (corn triangle) and in the east, vegetables and/or crop is grown - besides livestock breeding.
In the north, more than half of the 2.5 million citizens are located and are living mostly of self supply farming, which is operated as rain fed agriculture. Many farms are reliant on groundwater, which is made available by boreholes and pumps. Production of a farm basically relies on the yearly rainfall. Along the coastline, it almost never rains.
Today, livestock farming and agriculture produce slim yields. This is mostly tied to infertile soil as well as irregular rain fall. Forecasts suggest that it will be one of the most effected countries by climate change.
Along the coastline, there is almost no rain, but a lot of seawater from the Atlantic. In an experimental project of UNAM (University of Namibia) together with NCS (National Correctional Service), seawater is freed from its salt in costly and energy-intensive desalination plants, but not fully desalinated. Fields are irrigated with that water and farmed by inmates of a rehabilitation program. 50 people are active, but the yield produced can only feed 10 people. After 4–6 years, the soil is becoming infertile due to the remaining salt in the water.
In close cooperation with UNAM, we implement a pilot project. With the first two modules of Welt.Weit.Wasser., we bring the technical possibility to produce the cleanest water out of saltwater. One module will be capable of producing 40 liters of clean water per day at minimum. Without electricity, with almost no additional amount of work, and with sea salt as a byproduct. This water is building the foundation for the second part of our compact plant: The hydroponic system - where fruits, vegetables and herbs will grow, with the addition of an attuned amount of a nutrient solution (fertilizer and minerals), in water under ideal conditions. This system is developed by members of UNAM together with Austrian experts for hydroponics. The goal is to produce the hydroponic system as affordable, sustainable and durable as possible with local materials. The nutrient solution is again developed by members of UNAM and in cooperation with Austrian experts. Also, there is plenty of know how for the selection of the ideal plant variety for the cultivation conditions of Namibia.
The two installations will be mounted, tested and optimized during the pilot operation as part of the ongoing project of UNAM and NCS. These optimized installations will then be use as template for the full operation, where they will enable people in the back country to grow fruit, vegetables and herbs by themselves.
Dr. Yvonne Ritze Mentoring
Deutsch-Namibische Entwicklungsgesellschaft e.V.
University of Namibia
University of Namibia