Water in Crisis - Lesotho

Lindsay Boyce, Guest Writer

In the Southern tip of Africa rests a little nation called Lesotho; it is a country landlocked by South Africa. In 1966 Lesotho declared independence from the United Kingdom. Through the years there has been some civil unrest, however at this time it is a peaceful nation. It is about the size of Maryland and is made up of highlands, plateaus and hills. Periodic droughts often occur, however the nation relies heavily on the foreign exchange of its water supply in order to stay financially stable.

Economically, Lesotho depends on it' water resources to create revenue for the country. This is mostly seen through The Highlands Water Project. This project raises millions of dollars each year for this poor country through the sale of water to neighboring countries, particularly South Africa. One of the issues however, is that many of Lesotho's rural and urban citizens do not have access to safe and clean drinking water and often have to walk for hours just to reach water access points that may or may not be working. Many citizen are aware of what the Highlands Water Project does for their country and are aware that another project; the Metolong Dam Project will make water easily accessible. However, this project is not expected to be finished until 2020. Due to this problem many low land districts of Lesotho have reoccurring serious water shortages. Once this project is finished it is estimated that the water supply will reach 90 percent of the urban district of Maseru and sanitation coverage is expected to increase from 15 percent to 20 percent. Until then, citizen will continue to have to walk miles each day to access clean water, while the majority of their water supply is being sold to South Africa.

Overall, unlike other African nations it is not the lack of water that is posing the problem in Lesotho. It is the lack of knowledge and the technology to create access to the lowland and rural populations. Interestingly enough, water is Lesotho's largest single source of foreign exchange. Even so, the focus needs to be on the nations citizens. The educations and technology needs to be set in place by the national government in order to finish projects such as the Metolong Dam Project so that citizens will have the necessary access to clean and safe drinking water.