Close to half a million Batswana will benefit from various water projects to be undertaken by government using funds acquired from the World Bank’s $145.5 million (P1.5 billion) Emergency Water Security and Efficiency Project.
According to the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, the projects are estimated to benefit at least 460,000 people in 66 villages and towns while at the same time connecting 177,000 people to improved wastewater treatment systems.
The first component will consist of a range of projects including Selebi-Phikwe to Serule water transfer scheme and Gantsi township water supply expansion. The second component will consist of rehabilitation of the Mambo and Lobatse wastewater treatment plants as well as expansion of the Letlhakane wastewater treatments ponds. The last component includes a series of studies and technical assistance activities to support stronger long-term planning and efficiency in the country’s water sector.
Speaking during the launch of the projects yesterday, the minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, Prince Maele said following the 2014 to 2016 water shortages, government decided to seek external assistance to bring the situation under control.
“Government then approached the World Bank for a loan facility of U$145.5 million. The loan was approved by Parliament during the winter session of 2017, specifically secured to address the emergency water security and efficiency situation in the country,” he said.
According to Maele, the loan would help in their efforts to integrate and manage both our surface and ground water resources. Through the facility the ministry is expected to develop water supply and wastewater management infrastructure and
“We must be able to realise proper upgrades on our water supply infrastructure and adequate policies to address the existing and emerging water related issues,” he said.
The ministry has established a coordination unit and structures that would monitor the implementation of the project. According to the minister, this effort would ensure that they attain water security, sustainable usage and further exploration of new and additional water resources in the country. He further said the demand for water keeps on increasing as studies have indicated that the global fresh water resources have in the recent years been greatly affected by the effects of climate change, particularly in quantity and quality.
He said water supply systems and conservation strategies continue to experience a series of operational and structural problems, which have led to increasing challenges in coping with the increasing demands in water supply and sanitation services. In addition, Maele said Botswana is a drought prone country and the periodic dry spells the country encounters impacts negatively on the optimisation of economic activities, which in the process also cause undesirable environmental concerns.
“The situation is further compounded by lack of efficient use and management of these limited water resources, part of which is accounted for by our poor and lack of proper infrastructure,” he said.