- Lesotho has signed a US$25 million financing agreement with the World Bank in its efforts to secure long-term reliable water supply for its people and industry.
The signing, made at the weekend, also includes an $8.5 million grant component.
“The government of Lesotho is committed to meeting the challenge of water security as an essential element of our sustainable development strategy,” said Dr Timothy Thahane, Lesotho’s Minister of Finance and Development Planning, at the signing ceremony. “Providing reliable water supply to our industries which account for about 40 percent of the gross domestic product will help us to secure economic growth. And as we know potable water is vital for reducing childhood illnesses,” he added.
According to the World Bank, Lesotho has achieved strong results in the water sector, and over 80 percent of its population has access to safe drinking water.
“The provision of 75,000 cubic meters (m3) per day of additional treated water will enable Lesotho to meet domestic and industrial requirement in the medium-term,” said Ruth Kagia, World Bank Country Director for Lesotho, speaking at the signing ceremony. “The World Bank is pleased to support Lesotho’s efforts to harness this critical resource through a multi-donor programme.”
The project will support the country's efforts to improve water supplies and expand coverage, both in the capital, Maseru, and other fast-growing urban centers such as Mazenod, Morija, Roma, and Teyateyaneng. When the project is completed in 2013, water supply coverage in Maseru is expected to reach 90 percent, and sanitation coverage is expected to increase from the low level of 15 percent in Maseru and six percent in the centers to 20 percent and 10 percent respectively.
“The project financing agreement signed today is testimony to the excellent spirit of cooperation that exists between the government of Lesotho and its development partners,” said Marcus J. Wishart, World Bank Water Resource Specialist and project leader. “We look forward to speedy and effective implementation so that the project can deliver its development outcomes for the benefit of people and the environment.”
The project is led by Lesotho’s Metolong Authority, with the World Bank providing technical support including in the areas of operational and fiduciary safeguards. The bulk of financing is being contributed by Lesotho’s development partners such as the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), Kuwait Fund, Millennium Challenge Corporation, OPEC Fund for International Development, and Saudi Fund for Development. The European Development Fund supported project preparation, and the government of South Africa is finalising its support for the project.
The project is part of the larger, $284 million Metolong Dam and Water Supply Programme (MDWSP) which is the government of Lesotho’s strategic effort to achieve water security in the 21st Century.
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