World Bank approves grant for water project

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Bereng Mpaki

THE World Bank has approved a $78 million (about M1, 092 million) financing for the second phase of Lesotho’s Lowlands Water Development Project (LLWDP II) which will benefit 115 000 people.

Part of the funding towards the water project is financed by the European Union (EU) through the European Investment Bank (EIB) loan amounting to €41 million (about M615 million) and a €41 million (about M615 million) EU grant.

According to a statement by the bank, the grant which will be channeled through the bank’s International Development Association (IDA), will build on the work done under the first phase of the project. Phase I included the completion of the Metolong Dam and Water Supply Programme, which provides water for domestic and industrial water requirements for the capital, Maseru and surrounding settlements.

The LLWDP II aims to finance activities to improve access to reliable domestic and industrial water supply services in Maputsoe and Hlotse, as well as settlements and villages along the transmission pipeline route. About 115 000 inhabitants and the industrial sector are expected to benefit from the developments.

The project will also support the enhancement of WASCO’s performance by incentivising the delivery of measurable operational improvements facilitated by change management support. These improvements include: improving the quality of its technical and financial data to facilitate decision making and delivering on technical and financial performance against annual targets set by the Lesotho Electricity and Water Authority.

“The project will also assist in improving the technical and financial performance of Lesotho’s Water and Sewage Company (WASCO) for better sanitation infrastructure and services,” the World Bank said.

Said Paul Noumba Um, the World Bank Country Director for Lesotho, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe: “Through this project, the World Bank will assist Lesotho provide a reliable water supply, which is critical to improving the quality of life of Basotho and to the industrial areas including the textile sector for improved productivity and job creation. This is in line with the World Bank’s twin goals to reduce poverty and promote shared prosperity”.

The statement further says water is one of Lesotho’s most valuable natural assets and it is central to the country’s long-term growth prospects.

Lesotho’s access to water supply services is relatively high compared to other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, however, the reliability and quality of water supply services remains a challenge in both rural and urban areas.

“The project will help reduce the time and effort needed, especially for women and children, to collect water. It will also help reduce the incidence of waterborne diseases caused by consumption of contaminated water and the associated costs of accessing treatment.

“The project is also expected to promote economic growth and jobs by providing reliable water services to the industrial sector in the Maputsoe area which has been severely affected by the water crisis in the past few years,” Catherine Signe Tovey, World Bank Global Practice Manager for Water said.

Established in 1960, IDA helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for project and programmes that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 77 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa.

Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1, 3 billion people who live in IDA countries. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 112 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $19 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent going to Africa.

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