A vast acquifer could quench the region’s thirst for hundreds of years, but investment is in short supply in this drought-prone nation

When water first flowed from the new community pump in Eenhana this spring, some locals were slow to celebrate. Groundwater has a tainted reputation in this fast-developing, northern Namibian town. Many people in the area still rely on hand-dug wells that double up as watering holes for cattle.

“It was not like those wild west movies, where they strike oil and Stetsons are thrown in the air,” says Martin Quinger, a groundwater hydrologist, “but once the news spread there was a huge amount of excitement that the whole area will flourish and bloom.”

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