Historically a vast array of developments in Namibia have resulted in numerous plans, strategies and approaches, all of which are attempting to reach the same overall goals, namely, integrated and sustainable water use and management. The National Water Policy White Paper [484 KB] adopted in August 2000 provided a framework for equitable, efficient, and sustainable management of water resources and services and called for integrated management of Namibia’s water resources.

The following issues drive the need for IWRM:

- Shortcomings in the management of water; a focus on developing new sources rather than managing existing ones better; and top-down sector approaches to water management which result in uncoordinated development and management of the resource;
- Growth in population, increased economic activity and improved standards of living lead to increased competition for and conflicts over the limited freshwater resource;
- A combination of social inequity and economic marginalization forces people living in poverty to overexploit land and other natural resources, with damaging impacts on water resources;
- Water demand has increased faster than the growth in population in many places;
- The threat of pollution increases the risk of water scarcity;
- More and more development means greater impacts on the environment;
- Current concerns about climate variability and climate change demand improved management of water resources to cope with potentially more intense floods and droughts.