THE Ministry of Water has engaged the Pitsong Institute of Implementation Research (PIIR), a private consultancy to capacitate councilors to play their role in ensuring the efficient delivery of water, sanitation and hygiene services in their respective community councils.
The mobilisation and sensitisation programme for the councilors, drawn from five community councils, is being implemented under the Lowlands Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project (LRWSSP).
The LRWSSP is a water and sanitation project implemented by the Ministry of Water’s Department of Rural Water Supply (DRWS).
Implemented in Berea and Maseru along routes of the Metolong Dam Water Supply Project primary and secondary pipes, the project consists of provision of basic rural water and sanitation infrastructure, environmental health support for communities in the project area, as well as capacity building and project management.
It is against this background that PIIR is currently training councillors from the five community councils of Motanesela, Senekane, Qiloane, Mohlakeng and Manonyane.
The two-day training began yesterday with 40 councillors from Motanesela and Senekane while the remaining group from Qiloane, Mohlakeng and Manonyane will undergo training today in Ha Mosalla, Thaba-Bosiu.
PIIR Director Mpopo Tšoele yesterday told the Lesotho Times that “section 17 (2) of the Water Act bestows the responsibility of providing water and sanitation in the rural areas as well as operations and maintenance of water systems to local authorities established in terms of the Local Government Act of 1997”.
Mr Tšoele said it was against this background that his institution is training more than 80 community councillors from the five community councils in Berea and Maseru.
“The water services in rural areas are provided through community managed water systems supported by the DRWS. The water systems are mainly small piped gravity systems (50 percent of the served population); different solar, electrical and diesel-powered pumping systems (20 percent) and hand pumps cover about 30 percent of the served population.
“The functionality of the rural water systems is a challenge and while updated data on functionality is not available, it is estimated that more than 20 percent of the water systems are not operational. Sanitation services are mainly provided by pit latrines and approximately 45 percent of the rural population is using improved latrines. The DRWS is subsidising the construction of VIP in the communities where water projects are implemented while many households invest on their own in latrines of varied standards,” Mr Tšoele said.
He said it was government policy to devolve the provision of water supply and sanitation services to the relevant institutions at national, district and community councils and the same policy seeks to empower district and community councils in the effective implementation of water supply and sanitation programmes, including the development of all relevant by-laws.
“The long-term Water and Sanitation Strategy (LWSS) of 2014 states that local councils will be capacitated to play a constructive role in water, sanitation and hygiene services and it is against this background that we are training 40 councilors from Motanesela and Senekane and tomorrow we will train the remaining group from Qiloane, Mohlakeng and Manonyane,” Mr Tšoele said yesterday.
He added: “The LWSS further states that the urban councils and community councils will be formally established as water service authorities responsible for planning and overseeing water and sanitation within their jurisdiction and it is important for councilors to be capacitated so that they can effectively discharge their duties”.
The trainings came just a day after Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro informed the National Assembly that 25 new water supply systems serving about 10 227 people and 2 437 ventilated improved pit latrines (VIP) will be constructed during the 2019/20 financial year. Dr Majoro said this during his 2019/2020 budget presentation on Tuesday.
“Mr Speaker, local government service began with local government elections in 2005. Fourteen years later, decentralisation remains fragile with central government still performing most of the functions that are better performed by councils.
“Delivery of services to far reaching places by the central government is inefficient at two levels: first, the prioritisation of needs is not done by the people who need the service, and secondly, the central government is far from every community in land. Over and above this, paying councilors without allocating them responsibilities is not only inefficient; it duplicates costs government incurs in the delivery of services,” Dr Majoro said.
He said that the 2014 Decentralisation Policy should therefore be implemented in earnest with requisite legislation brought to the House soonest, adding that during FY2019/20, government will formulate and conclude a fiscal decentralisation roadmap, which shall set standards for the use of national financial resources.