The World Bank has approved US$15.435 million (M135 million) for Lesotho’s Water Sector Improvement Project Phase Two.
The project will further support the long-term sustainability of the Metolong Dam and Water Supply Programme, advance preparation for the hydropower component under Phase Two of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP2), and assist government in preparing a comprehensive investment programme for the expansion of water service in the lowlands districts.
An estimated 30 000 people are set to benefit from the delivery of water services by 2016.
“More than 40 percent of Lesotho’s population, and especially the poorer households, do not have adequate access to water and sanitation services, and roughly 75 percent of the population lives in rural areas where water service is scarce,” said Asad Alam, World Bank Country Director for Lesotho in a statement.
“Today’s funding (released on 20 June) will boost access to clean water for 30 000 people,” Mr Alam said
Added the World Bank Task Team Leader for this Project, Marcus Wishart: “Water is one of Lesotho’s most important renewable assets and is central to the country’s long-term growth prospects.
“Today’s project will combine efforts to further develop renewable energy through the preparation of the hydropower component under the LHWP2 and to increase water supply services through further development of the Lowlands Water Supply Scheme throughout the country, both of which are central to the Lesotho government’s efforts to eradicate extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity.”
Meanwhile, the President of the Senate, Letapata Makhaola, has commended the Youth Leagues Forum for mustering the courage to challenge how the LHWP2 was to be implemented.
The Forum, which comprises the youth leagues of different political parties, submitted a petition to the Senate in March this year, requesting the house’s intervention in ensuring the project benefitted Lesotho and South Africa equally.
The LHWP is a multiphase project established by a 1986 treaty between Lesotho and South Africa, and involves the construction of dams and tunnels in the two neighbouring nations, and the generation of hydroelectric power in Lesotho.
Phase One of the project consisted the construction of Katse and Mohale dams, Muela hydropower station and associated tunnels, and was inaugurated in 2004, with Phase Two processes initiated in 2010.
The LHWP2 would, among others, see Polihali Dam being constructed at the confluence of Khubelu and Senqu rivers starting 2017, with the project earmarked for completion in 2022. However, the youths had argued terms of the project’s agreement favoured South Africa, leading to the Senate petition.
In an interview this week following the completion of a report on the mediation by the Senate Petitions Committee, Mr Makhaola commended the youths for voicing their concerns.
“The initial report on the mediation by the Senate Petitions Committee has been released and it is now waiting to be tabled and discussed by the whole Senate.
“I took part in one of the meetings of the mediation by the Committee and I really came to appreciate the courage by the youths to have raised their concerns and
grievances over the Polihali agreement.
“I realised the youths have brought some developments and fresh perspective on how the Ministry of Energy, Meteorology and Water Affairs was looking at this project and their contribution and courage to step forward is really commendable,” he said.
“During the meeting, I also realised that the youths were well-informed and had researched about issues that had not been taken into consideration by the ministry.
“All the parties now have a common understanding and they would be working together when need arises and the Senate Petitions Committee would always be available to bring harmony in the implementation of the project.”