Don’t Sacrifice Water For The Love of Golf

Don’t Sacrifice Water For The Love of Golf

ONE can only hope that decision makers in Namibia have had the time to read and absorb the issues raised by Coleen Mannheimer in her excellent letter in The Namibian, Friday 04 November: ‘Obscuring the Real Issue at Langer Heinrich Mine’.

The author of the letter is obviously a well-informed professional and raises some real concerns in relation to Namibia’s very limited water resources. Namibia cannot sacrifice its resources to international companies without seriously considering the total impact on our limited water resources in fact the whole environmental and social impact that development might bring.We have already seen the environmental damage and financial costs of the Ramatex project in Windhoek.In fact all developments putting demands on our scarce resources must be viewed in the context of what is best for Namibia, including people, the environment, in fact the whole eco-system.I was amazed to recently read of two proposed sporting developments for Namibia that will consume an enormous amount of water, provide very few jobs and can possibly poison the environment.I’m referring to the golf courses planned for Otjiwarongo and the new city development in the north.In recent years countries in South-East Asia with weak regulations and feeble local opposition have been a strong draw for overseas developers, particularly the golf-crazy Japanese.In the 1990s in Japan strong local opposition managed to halt the development of 720 golf courses, so developers went to other Asian countries.For poor countries golf resorts can provide a lure to draw easy money from wealthy tourists.But golf is an expensive game for a poor country; the average golf course uses about 100 hectares of land, whereas a football pitch is only one hectare.An independent survey conducted by Thailand’s Mahidol University in 1993 confirmed that an average golf course consumes 6 500 cubic metres of water per day – enough to satisfy the domestic needs of 60 000 rural villagers.Golf courses will create very little employment; in most countries in the West each golf course would employ a staff of between 10-15 workers.There would be some work for golf caddies, but then their health would also be at risk.Caddies and golf course workers can very easily fall victim to pesticide poisoning.Golf caddies interviewed at the Santiburi golf course in Thailand said they all suffered skin disorders, dizziness and kidney problems after just one year’s work.Dead birds and small animals are found every morning after the golf courses have been sprayed overnight with pesticide.Even in the United States, where one would expect stricter controls over spraying, a study in 1994 by the Golf Course Superintendent Association confirmed that golf course staff had a higher rate of lung cancer, more brain cancer, and cancers of the large intestine and prostate than in the normal community.Let us hope that when future development projects are approved, Namibia’s scarce and vital water supply is not sacrificed for some development that creates a few jobs and has a short-term impact on the economy.That we should also consider the health of all Namibians, both human and animals, and not unnecessarily expose them to the dangers of pesticides and other poisons.Graeme Bruce WindhoekNamibia cannot sacrifice its resources to international companies without seriously considering the total impact on our limited water resources in fact the whole environmental and social impact that development might bring.We have already seen the environmental damage and financial costs of the Ramatex project in Windhoek.In fact all developments putting demands on our scarce resources must be viewed in the context of what is best for Namibia, including people, the environment, in fact the whole eco-system.I was amazed to recently read of two proposed sporting developments for Namibia that will consume an enormous amount of water, provide very few jobs and can possibly poison the environment.I’m referring to the golf courses planned for Otjiwarongo and the new city development in the north.In recent years countries in South-East Asia with weak regulations and feeble local opposition have been a strong draw for overseas developers, particularly the golf-crazy Japanese.In the 1990s in Japan strong local opposition managed to halt the development of 720 golf courses, so developers went to other Asian countries.For poor countries golf resorts can provide a lure to draw easy money from wealthy tourists.But golf is an expensive game for a poor country; the average golf course uses about 100 hectares of land, whereas a football pitch is only one hectare.An independent survey conducted by Thailand’s Mahidol University in 1993 confirmed that an average golf course consumes 6 500 cubic metres of water per day – enough to satisfy the domestic needs of 60 000 rural villagers.Golf courses will create very little employment; in most countries in the West each golf course would employ a staff of between 10-15 workers.There would be some work for golf caddies, but then their health would also be at risk.Caddies and golf course workers can very easily fall victim to pesticide poisoning.Golf caddies interviewed at the Santiburi golf course in Thailand said they all suffered skin disorders, dizziness and kidney problems after just one year’s work.Dead birds and small animals are found every morning after the golf courses have been sprayed overnight with pesticide.Even in the United States, where one would expect stricter controls over spraying, a study in 1994 by the Golf Course Superintendent Association confirmed that golf course staff had a higher rate of lung cancer, more brain cancer, and cancers of the large intestine and prostate than in the normal community.Let us hope that when future development projects are approved, Namibia’s scarce and vital water supply is not sacrificed for some development that creates a few jobs and has a short-term impact on the economy.That we should also consider the health of all Namibians, both human and animals, and not unnecessarily expose them to the dangers of pesticides and other poisons.Graeme Bruce Windhoek

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