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Grootfontein (Afrikaans for Large Spring, due to the proximity of hot springs) is located in central Namibia on Route B8 running between Otavi and Caprivi Strip.
Early Life and Education
Grootfontein is a town located 210 air miles northeast of Windhoek, Namibia’s national capital, in a semiarid region characterized by various grasses and large trees. Grootfontein serves as a railhead on TransNamib railway system and boasts both the Hoba meteorite – one of the largest known meteorites worldwide – as well as Dragon’s Breath Cave as tourist destinations.
The humidity comfort level varies slightly throughout the year and may become mildly muggy or oppressive at times, while temperature comfort levels remain relatively consistent and wind direction remains northwesterly.
Grootfontein is home to a major zinc and vanadium mine and well field that supplies raw water to Mahikeng, as well as being an appealing tourist spot due to its beautiful jacaranda trees and presence of fossilized simian- or pongoid remains.
The Department of Water and Sanitation manages and operates the Grootfontein Well Field and is ultimately accountable for managing groundwater resources at Grootfontein Aquifer, improving wastewater treatment in Mahikeng and monitoring water quality. In spite of these challenges, however, overall the system appears to be operating effectively.
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Achievement and Honors
South Africa has long relied on groundwater resources for both domestic and agricultural uses. Since 1998, however, any abstraction other than drinking water or basic stock and garden watering requires a license from DWS.
Organizational changes alone have not led to improved water governance at Grootfontein or other water-constrained communities, due to an absence of appropriate local conditions and institutions as formalized in Ostrom’s appropriator attributes.
Ultimately, this would break a sub-optimal equilibrium at Grootfontein and produce benefits for all appropriators, in terms of lower pumping costs and greater assurances of supply; serving both economic dynamism and the nation building ethos of contemporary South African states.
Grootfontein is a railhead on the TransNamib system with an airfield capable of accommodating large transport aircraft, and also boasts an interesting museum that includes the world’s largest meteorite, Hoba.
This comprehensive map of Grootfontein allows you to display both classic mapping elements (streets and roads), as well as more specific data such as pedestrian streets, building numbers, one-way streets, administrative buildings, main landmarks, etc. Additionally, Google Street View functionality can even be enabled here!
Grootfontein groundwater governance shows how de jure organizational changes alone cannot ensure effective water governance; actual norms that break suboptimal equilibriums associated with free-riding or other collective action problems must also be put in place to guarantee effective management.
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Without local conditions and institutions – formalised as Ostrom’s ‘appropriator attributes’ – spontaneous local self-regulation will likely not emerge spontaneously at Grootfontein. A legally mandated convening organisation that has funds, skills, democratic mandate, democratic mandate and capacity to cultivate salience; common understanding; low discount rate; trust and reciprocity as well as autonomy may be necessary.
Breaking sub-optimal equilibriums at Grootfontein could ultimately result in recovery of groundwater levels, decreased pumping costs and greater assurances of supply to Mahikeng, benefitting various appropriators. Such action would further advance South Africa’s goals of becoming an activist yet pragmatic state.