Three countries sign water supply agreement with Lesotho

Four ministers from Lesotho, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa have signed an agreement to commence a dam construction and water supply pipeline from Lesotho to Botswana.

The ministers responsible for water supply in the respective countries met in Kasane last week to give a green light to the commencement of a feasibility study for the project.

The study to be funded by the African Development Bank to the tune of US$2.3 million,  will take 24 months to complete, the Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, Prince Maele told journalists last Friday. The four countries are members of the Orange-Senqu River Commission (ORASECOM).

Maele said the feasibility study will inform the size of the dam to be built in Lesotho.

“At this moment we cannot say what size the dam will be, but the findings of the feasibility study will inform us on what size is needed and the budget thereof,” he said on Friday.

The pipeline to feed Botswana is expected to be around 600 kilometres and will supply villages in the southern part of the country and the Greater Gaborone area.

He said since the pipeline will be running across South Africa, it has been agreed that the villages and towns along the pipeline should also benefit from it. The minister said they hope that the project will commence immediately after the feasibility study has been completed and will alleviate water shortages in the country.

He was confident that despite the recurring political instability in Lesotho, the project will not be affected by this and that there was a serious commitment from the Lesotho government.

He also suggested that Lesotho should be a host for the office that will be established to coordinate the project. The minister and his officials said the Masama West wells were already in operation and supplying water to Gaborone.

He added that they intend to commence the construction of North-South pipeline in the near future. He added that the aging infrastructure is responsible for water shortages because of the leaks that consume about 40% of the water that is distributed in the country.

The minister explained that the country has run out of space for construction of new large dams, adding that financial institutions prefer to provide funding for cross border projects instead of those carried out by individual countries..