Urban Water Security – Local Conditions and Regional Context : A case study of attitudes and water use behaviour in Windhoek, Namibia

Abstract: The world is becoming urbanised. Between 1995 and 2025, it is estimated that the cities and towns of the developing world will have absorbed another two billion people. A majority of these people will be poor and settle down in the unregulated areas. It is therefore fair to say that the management and use of water in urban areas is a very complex and dynamic issue. The fact that cities in the South are composed of two systems, the regulated and the unregulated areas, and that considerable diversity exists between them, highlights the need for a context driven policy design in urban water management. For attaining urban water security in these cities, controlling water demand in the regulated areas while improving access to water of good quality in the unregulated areas must be a priority. This thesis is based on a case study of Windhoek, a city characterized by conditions of aridity, rapid urbanisation and primate city dominance. Since 1994, a thorough water demand management (WDM) strategy has been implemented in Windhoek, aiming at improving water use efficiency and to reduce water consumption through economic and non-economical measures. It has been the purpose to examine the development of urban water management along with urban growth, the response to WDM by the domestic and private business sectors, as well as challenges and benefits of allowing urban branch-lines along water transfer schemes.WDM can be an efficient tool in the struggle against luxury and non-efficient water use, to postpone bulk water investments and for cost-recovery. However, it is crucial that the incentives are based on and flexible according to socio-economic conditions, and that water managers acknowledge motives and attitudes that shape water use behaviour. One dilemma of WDM lies in the fact that if the supply capacity is increased, it is likely that demand will be adjusted accordingly. It is a tricky task to motivate water savings through demand management alongside with an improved water supply. Moreover, it is essential that savings are not only temporary, but also part of a long-term adjustment. Another predicament of WDM is that a high trust in water authorities actually lowered the efficiency of the strategy to meet the anticipated goal.