Assessment of groundwater potential of the Kalahari aquifers in Kavango East and West regions, Namibia

The Kavango West and East regions are situated in a semi-arid area northeast of Namibia and bounded by the perennial Okavango River on the northern border. Groundwater in the area is the main source of water supply for the inhabitants living further from the river. In addition, most bulk water users along the river have boreholes for their water supply. With a semi-arid climate, drought in the regions is common and inflicts devastating effects on local communities. More drought relief boreholes are being drilled to sustain communities, increasing the dependency of the inhabitants on groundwater. The complexity of the behaviour and nature of the groundwater in the regions is poorly understood, and there are no strategies to manage these aquifers properly. As a result, an attempt was made to better understand the groundwater potential by examining several hydrogeological factors involved. A basic water-balance approach was used in determining the groundwater potential of the middle and lower Kalahari aquifers. The total resource potential for the entire region is estimated at 144 447.16 x 106 m3 /a, demonstrating great resource potential with significant storage space.

The greatest potential is shown in the middle Kalahari aquifers, comprising about 94% of the total resource. Groundwater recharge, as one of the hydrogeological factors, was determined using the chloride mass balance method, giving an average of 6.03 mm/a for the entire study area. If utilized sustainably, the Kalahari aquifers can sustain most communities within the two regions, especially those further from the Okavango River.

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