Three countries to benefit from Lesotho Water Transfer scheme

Three countries – Botswana, Namibia and South Africa – will benefit from the much-anticipated Lesotho Water Transfer scheme.

Lesotho water projectThe Lesotho Highlands Water Project involved the construction of five dams and over 200km (124 miles) of tunnels. Image credit:

Under the Orange-Senqu River Commission (ORASECOM) the countries will draw water from the plentiful Lesotho water supply to meet each of their demands.

"For now we can only say it will be a very large dam considering the demand of water we want to meet in both Namibia and Botswana.” 
Prince Maele, Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, Lesotho.


The small land-locked kingdom’s mountainous terrain serves as an efficient catchment area, trapping water from the Senqu River, Vaal and Orange rivers, among other water streams.

Kasane recently hosted ministers responsible for water supply from the four countries at a gathering to approve the start of a feasibility study that will influence the design, engineering and construction of one of Africa’s largest dams in Lesotho.

Included in the project is a pipeline running from the Kingdom of Lesotho through South Africa into Botswana.

The four countries agreed to source funds from the African Development Bank (AfDB) for the study.

According to the Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services Prince Maele, the feasibility study will determine the dam size, while considering the environmental assessment and the quantity of water to supplied.

LHWPLesotho Highlands Water Project.
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The study will also determine the budget of the actual dam construction and the transfer pipeline.The aim of the study is also to assess the viability of water resource development options for the entire water transfer, within the framework of assessing engineering, costing, social, legal, environmental, economic and financial information.

Maele comments, “For now we can only say it will be a very large dam considering the demand of water we want to meet in both Namibia and Botswana.”

The feasibility study is expected to cost about USD2.3-million with a 24-month window for completion.
The potential impacts associated with climate change in the Orange-Senqu River basin will form part of the study and the findings will provide important input in support of the broader assessment and analysis of this phenomenon.

diagram MMNext phase of Lesotho Highlands water project.
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The water transfer undertaking is expected to commence immediately after the feasibility study and, once completed, is also expected to alleviate water-scarce Botswana’s shortages.

The Masama East and Masama West wells are reported to be complete and will pump water into the North-South Water Carrier to supply the Greater Gaborone by next year, while the Chobe-Zambezi Stampriet Aquifer, which will supply the Kgalagadi North, is expected to be complete by 2020.

South Africa currently receives water from Lesotho under the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP). The LHWP is an ongoing water supply projectwith a hydropower component, developed in partnership between the governments of Lesotho and South Africa.



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