The governments of Botswana, South Africa, Lesotho and Namibia have signed an agreement that allows Botswana to import water from Lesotho using a 600 km-long pipeline that will run across South Africa to the capital Gaborone.
Late last week, water portfolio ministers from the 4 countries met in Kasane, Botswana, and signed the agreement under the auspices of the Orange-Sengu River Commission (ORASECOM).
Botswana Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services Prince Maele told a post-ceremony press conference that the project is anchored on the construction of a dam in Lesotho. The dam will feed into a pipeline that is set to supply water to the various towns and communities it passes through in both South Africa and Botswana.
However, Maele said the size and cost of the dam will be determined by a feasibility study, which is being funded to the tune of US$2.3 million by the African Development Bank (AfDB).
The study is due to be completed within the next 24 months. An office to coordinate the project will be set up in Lesotho.
Botswana has been hit by successive droughts that kept Gaborone Dam dry for three full years until it was filled up by the excessive 2016/’17 rains.
Throughout the drought, Gaborone’s water supply was imported from the North West Province of South Africa. Key among the interventions to alleviate the water shortage in the South and South-East Districts, Botswana has started drawing water from the newly-resuscitated Masama West aquifer.
The government also plans to revive the construction of the North-South Carrier (NSC) Water Project which entails the construction of a 360 km-long pipeline to ferry raw water from the north east to Gaborone.
Through the Water Utilities Corporation (WUC), the government also plans to replace aged pipeline infrastructure which is blamed for the leakage of nearly 40% of water distributed across the country.
Maele said Botswana’s options out of the water crisis are limited because the country has no more space for construction of new large dams while financial institutions increasingly preferred to fund multinational projects as opposed to individual-country initiatives.