Policy Brief: Enhancing water security in Southern Africa by tackling nitrate contamination of aquifers and unraveling links to climate change and sanitation: A case from Ramotswa, Botswana
The quality and quantity of groundwater are threatened by climate change as well as increasing demand from rapid urbanization in southeast Botswana, as is the case in much of southern Africa. A case study of Ramotswa, a growing peri-urban area in southeast Botswana (population about 40,000), revealed the impact of the 2013-2016 drought on groundwater quality. Water shutoffs by the public water supply scheme to ration and save water during the drought made flush toilets and the sewage treatment system inoperable.
Cooperation is important in transboundary groundwater management. Actions in the utilization of aquifers on one side of the border can have negative impacts upon a neighboring state’s overall access, and consequently their delivery on national social and gender equity goals. In turn, cooperation on shared groundwater can offset conflicts and enhance joint benefits of the aquifers. International instruments increasingly emphasize gender and social factors, but transboundary arrangements and practices regarding shared aquifers continue to fail to address these issues. This may jeopardize water security and livelihood options for small communities in the border regions, enhancing risks to social cohesions, livelihoods and wellbeing.