Chic African Culture Africa Factbook

Disappearing Rivers of Africa

The oddly common disappearing rivers of Namibia Africa flow for very short periods following heavy rainfall.

Studying seven disappearing rivers of Africa and why do rivers disappear. Ekuma River Fish River Hoanib River Khan River Kuiseb River Oshigambo River Ugab River

The Ekuma River is one of the seven disappearing rivers in Namibia Africa.
The Ekuma River is one of the seven disappearing rivers in Namibia Africa.

Disappearing River Waters of Namibia

Within the drier areas of Namibia in Africa, the majority of rivers are ephemeral, with some experiencing flow very rarely and others experiencing flow more frequently, but still intermittently. Ephemeral  means lasting for a very short time.

The majority of flow events occurs in direct response to major rainfall events and is frequently of short duration. The majority of the streamflow will be derived from runoff generated on the catchment surface with only a small contribution derived from drainage out of saturated soils and rocks. The latter may form a larger component of the total flow in a single event after prolonged rainfall events when subsurface storage is more effectively recharged.

In some areas of the country, ephemeral rivers may experience extended periods of still water pondage within their channels. This would mainly be caused by very slow groundwater seepage that is sufficient to maintain a pool, but not sufficient to overcome evaporation losses and generate channel flow. Evaporation will cause progressive concentration of salts.

Carrying water from a disappearing river in Namibia Africa

Carrying water from a disappearing river in Namibia Africa

About the seven disappearing rivers of Namibia Africa

Ekuma River

Ekuma River is one of the three rivers that supply a majority of water to the pan in the Etosha National Park in Namibia. The other two rivers being Oshigambo River and Omurambo Ovambo River. Ekumo is an ephemeral river that occasionally flows, or forms pools, during the rainy season. It originates from the southern shores of Lake Oponono and is 160 miles long.

Fish River

The flow of the river is seasonal; in winter, the river can dry up completely.

Hoanib River

The Hoanib flows only every few years from heavy rainfall in the hinterland of the catchment area, but then the flood wave can be several meters high and last for several days.

Khan River

The Khan River cross the Erongo region of central Namibia. It is the main tributary of the Swakop River and only occasionally carries surface water during the rain seasons in November and an ephemeral river crossing the Erongo region of central Namibia. It is the main tributary of the Swakop River and only occasionally carries surface water during the rain seasons in November and March.

Kuiseb River

The Kuiseb River rises in the mountains to the west of Windhoek, Namib and flows for 300 miles in a semicircle into the cool coastal Namib Desert, where it normally dies out; in rare flood years, it may reach the seas of the Atlantic Ocean south of Walvis Bay.

Oshigambo River

The Oshigambo River is an ephemeral river in central-northern Namibia, flowing into Etosha Pan. It almost never carries surface water.

Ugab River

The Ugab River is an ephemeral river that only flows above the surface of its sandy bed a few days each year.

Now that you know about the disappearing rivers of Namibia Africa, let's learn more about the country.

Namibia Name and Land Facts

Namibia is in Southern Africa, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean, between Angola and South Africa with a terrain of mostly high plateau, the Namib Desert along coast and the Kalahari Desert in east. The Namib Desert, after which the country is named, is considered to be the oldest desert in the world. Namibia is the first country in the world to incorporate the protection of the environment into its constitution; some 14 percent of the land is protected, including virtually the entire Namib Desert coastal strip; Namib-Naukluft National Park 49,768 sq km, is the largest game park in Africa and one of the largest in the world.

About the population and people of Namibia

Due to prolonged periods of drought and two deserts in this African country, the population density is very low, with the largest clustering found in the extreme north-central area along the border with Angola. Around 45 percent of Namibians are Urbanites while 55 percent are rural dwellers.

Brief look at Namibia’s economy

Namibia’s economy is heavily dependent on the extraction and processing of minerals for export. Mining accounts for about 12.5 percent of GDP, but provides more than 50 percent of foreign exchange earnings. Namibia is one of the world’s largest producers of uranium and also produces large quantities of zinc and is a smaller producer of gold and copper. The Namibian economy is closely linked to its neighbor country of South Africa.

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