Gaborone — Botswana Emergency Water Security and Efficiency Project launched in Gaborone on Tuesday will enable government to improve the supply and management of water; a key resource.
Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Service (MLWS), Mr Prince Maele said during the launch of the project, which is a partnership between government and World Bank, that in recent years, Botswana had experienced a serious water stress situation, particularly between the years 2014 and 2016, which had forced government to seek external assistance through which the project was being implemented.
"We approached the World Bank for a loan facility of over P1 billion. The loan was approved by Parliament during the winter session of 2017 specifically to address the emergency water security and efficiency situation in the country," Mr Maele said.
He said the loan would help government's efforts to integrate and manage both surface and ground water resources and online water supply systems set to benefit around 466 000 people in 66 selected villages, while connecting 177 000 people to improved wastewater and sludge management systems.
"Through this facility, we are expected to develop our water supply and wastewater infrastructure and also to strengthen our institutional capacity to enable us to better manage this vital resource," Mr Maele said.
The minister further said this would enable government to realise proper upgrades on the national water supply infrastructure and adequate policies to address existing and emerging water-related issues.
MLWS permanent secretary, Mr Thato Raphaka said the project incorporated improving water supply and efficiency, improving wastewater management as well as sector reform and institutional strengthening.
"The first component will consist of a range of projects including Selebi Phikwe to Serule water transfer scheme and Ghanzi township water supply expansion, while the second component will include the rehabilitation of the Mambo and Lobatse wastewater treatment ponds," Mr Raphaka said.
The third aspect of the project, Mr Raphaka added, would include a series of studies and technical assistance activities to support stronger long-term planning and efficiency in Botswana's water sector.
Delivering his remarks, the World Bank Country Director for Southern Africa, Mr Paul Noumba-Um said both his institution and government were committed to addressing the water scarcity problem in the country.
He added that the country's eleventh national development plan stresses water as essential to Botswana's industrial development.
Mr Noumba-Um said instances such as the 2015 drought, which he described as the worst in decades, underlined the need for having efficient water systems in place.