Watering the Livestock

Namibia is in the midst of a two year drought and access to water is becoming a critical issue for the Himba people.  Namibia is unique at the best of times because all of the rivers within its borders flow underground.  What at first appears to be a dry river bed is actually a cover for water that is flowing beneath, sometimes as deep as 20 feet below.  Over the years the Himba have dug wells in the river beds to access the water.  Namib Day 7-366Each day the livestock are herded down to the river bed to await their turn at the trough.  This is the job of the men and boys.  The animals are carefully controlled until it is their turn and this process can go on for hours.

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The trough is a hollowed out tree trunk that sits on the edge of the well and is filled by a manual system of filling a homemade bucket at the bottom of the well and then passing or often throwing it up to a person standing on a ledge in the upper half of the well who is able to fill the trough.  Namib Day 7-289Namib Day 7-320-2

And so the process continues, bucket after bucket.  Piers our guide estimated the women in this manual system must have moved close to 1,000 litres (250 gallons) of water an hour.  This is equivalent to lifting 1,000 KG an hour or 2,000 lbs.  This fact is staggering to me.

When you think this process is being repeated in every village and not just in Namibia but in many parts of Africa, it starts to paint a picture of the water crisis we are facing in the world which is only going to get worse.  What will happen if the drought in Namibia continues?

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5 thoughts

  1. Wow Andy, these are breathtaking photos. Some of your best yet in my opinion. Just so alive in capturing the moment and the effort. Not to mention the colors. Terrific. And I am moved in a big way with respect for these people. Well done my friend.

  2. Really second that, Andy. These are so alive and capture the steaming heat of the cattle and the women throwing up that heavy water. Very moving. Love these.

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