Sand rivers

Sand river in Taka, Gambos (Huíla). Photo © Ruy Llera Blanes, November 2020.

The landscapes of southern Angola are populated by sandy rivers like this one. On the surface, one would say that they are remnants from ancient rivers once filled with water and life. However, not everything is as it seems. In the rainy season, they overflow with water, not only on the surface but also underground. This underground water often remains during the dry season, while the surface dries, and has traditionally served as an alternative source of water for local communities. In the province of Namibe, where annual rainfall is minimal or non-existent, groundwater from rivers that are born in Huíla’s mountain ranges is, in this respect, fundamental.

Today, several traditional and modern techniques are discussed – from cacimbas (water holes) to underground dams – for the retention (or “braking”) of water that is normally lost through percolation. Despite the drought cycle and rainfall irregularity, it is yet another contribution towards the resilience of local communities.

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