Botswana signs MoU to get water from Lesotho
Botswana signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) over the weekend to explore the possibility of getting water from Lesotho. The MoU was signed by ministers responsible for water in Botswana, Lesotho and South Africa. Speaking during the signing ceremony in Gaborone, the South African Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa said that the collaboration was an effort to assist Botswana with water for socio-economic development.
Botswana and the two countries are member states of the Orange-Senqu River Commission (ORASECOM) and can benefit from the utilisation of the river. The three countries have signed a SADC protocol, which provides a forum for consultation and coordination between the states to promote integrated water resources management and development.
"We share rivers and water courses so we should all ensure that there is sharing of water for economic growth but also ensuring that there is no pollution," asserted Molewa. She said that the commission, or the collaboration by the countries sharing the river (ORASECOM) is one of the best in Africa. She assured the gathering that a study of the possibility of Botswana sourcing water from the river with minimal pollution is ongoing and that they are expecting progress in a year.
Meanwhile, a representative from the Lesotho Ministry of Water Affairs said that sharing among the three countries is more of a custom. He said each of the countries had previously helped the other in one way or the other. The countries have shared both good and bad times, he said.
"Thousands of people from both Lesotho and Botswana previously flocked South Africa to seek jobs. Also, many of Lesotho people came to Botswana for protection during difficult political times in Lesotho. So we are very happy to be given an opportunity to help Botswana," he said. "This project will reinforce the relationship that these countries have had from many years ago and going forward."
The Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources Kitso Mokaila signed the MoU on behalf of Botswana. A representative from Namibia, which is also a member state of ORASECOM, was present to witness the signing and to monitor the progress of the study until the next meeting hosted by his country next year.