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close this bookThe Courier N° 127 May - June 1991- Dossier 'New' ACP Export Products - Country Reports Cape Verde - Namibia (EC Courier, 1991, 104 p.)
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close this folderCape verde: A mudança - change
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View the documentAn interview with the President, Antonio Mascarenhas Monteiro
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View the documentKenya - Broadening the range of agricultural exports
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View the documentThe growth of non-traditional exports in the Caribbean
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View the documentWALLONIA - ‘A new political entity and a new partner in co-operation’, says Minister Albert Liénard in the ‘Courier’.
View the documentAcknowledgements

‘...and not a drop to drink’

The country’s number one problem is brought home to the visitor as soon as he sees the sticker on the hotel bedroom wall. The picture of a dripping tap speaks for itself. ‘Water is a precious commodity in Cape Verde. Please do not waste it’.

There are no permanent water courses on the islands. The only natural source of supply is the scant rainfall, the twice-yearly showers which soon drain off the hills into the ocean. But the country collects water in many ways. It has built big tanks for collection and storage during the winter and it sells the water at 2.5 escudos per 25 litre can. At the foot of the Fogo volcano, this particular technique has been spread to the individual families, who no longer have to go on long water-fetching trips now a religious NGO has given them their own tanks and plastic piping to channel the rain from their roofs. Their supplies, enough for the period between two winters, are kept under lock and key, of course, to avoid wastage.

Boreholes, also common, are sunk in pockets of fossilbearing earth and are an essential contribution to the country’s supplies. The Community has financed many of them, particularly on Santiago, to help meet the ever-increasing demand of Praia, the capital, whose population is expanding constantly as people flock in from the rural areas. Solar pumps, motor pumps and in some cases windmills may be used to draw up the water.

The quest for water can be a Herculean task. What a job it was to drill an 800 metre gallery, shore it up and ventilate it, spend ECU 3 000 000 on it and then get only a fraction of the water expected. Yet the sacrifices are worthwhile and, in the case in point, corrective drilling could remedy the situation.

Sometimes the Cape Verdeans shift their water from, say, Santo Antao, which has plenty, to Sao Vincente, which has none, an economically viable operation in this case in view of the short distance between the two islands.

Lastly, there are a number of sea-water desalination units, the most expensive method of all, because imported energy has to be used to make it work. But three of the islands have no underground resources of any kind and in these, desalination is the only answer.

A.T.