THE Orange-Senqu River Commission (ORASECOM) in partnership with the Ministries of Water Affairs; and Forestry and Land Reclamation launched the Protection of the Khubelu Sponges Project in Mapholaneng, Mokhotlong district last week.
ORASECOM was formed by four-member states of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), namely: Lesotho, Botswana, South Africa and Namibia with objectives to consolidate the existing tradition of good neighbourliness between the member states through the promotion of well- coordinated collaboration in the development of the Orange-Senqu River System.
A Memorandum of Understanding between these countries was signed in Windhoek, Namibia in 2000.
Speaking at the event, the Head of the Project from the Ministry of Water Affairs Mr Fanana Makomoreng said a total M17 million was injected by the Governments of Germany, United Kingdom and Australia to support two-phased conservation works at the Khubelu wetlands.
Although the project started in February 2013 and initially planned to run through September 2016, the project timeframe had to be extended to November 2017 due to some challenges.
“We agreed with the donors to extend the implementation timeframe to five years, to enable proper implementation and achievement of the desired results,” Mr Makomoreng said.
On his part, the Minister of Water Affairs, Mr Samonyane Ntsekele thanked the donors for their financial and technical support, which made the initiative a success.
“We wish for your continued support in future projects of a similar nature. This will go a long way to support Government’s efforts in promoting projects aiming to protect our wetlands,” Mr Ntsekele said.
Mr Ntsekele said that the project was aimed at protecting the water catchment areas in an effort to preserve clean water for the Mokhotlong community and the neighbouring countries benefitting from the Lesotho water.
In his remarks, the Minister of Forestry and Land Reclamation, Mr Motlohi Maliehe applauded the proper management of the funds, which ensured the success of the project.
“The Khubelu Sponges implementation was long and challenging. It is therefore our duty to make sure that we make efforts to protect the sponges (wetlands) through sustainable conservation practices in order for the local communities and those beyond Lesotho to continue benefitting from this initiative,” Mr Maliehe said.