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Lesotho and EU launch transformative water initiative

Business

Seabata Mahao

In a groundbreaking move to enhance water access and sanitation, the government, in partnership with the European Union (EU), launched the ‘Metsi a Lesotho’ initiative this week.

This multi-million maloti Team Europe’s transformative project aims to improve water, sanitation, and hygiene for over 125,000 people across 250 rural communities, 125 schools, and 15 clinics.

Funded with an impressive M540 million, the initiative also emphasises the sustainable management of Lesotho’s water and land resources to benefit both present and future generations.

The project aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 6, which focuses on clean water and sanitation for all, and Lesotho’s National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP II) as extended.

The government and its relevant ministries have collaborated with Team Europe, comprising the European Union Delegation to Lesotho, the European Investment Bank (EIB), the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on this initiative.

UNICEF is also a crucial partner in the broader mission to extend access to water and sanitation services.

The Metsi a Lesotho project will, according to the EU, utilise various tools, including the development and rehabilitation of water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities in the targeted areas.

This includes systems for the collection, treatment, storage, and distribution of water, as well as the construction of toilets and handwashing stations.

At the launch event, the head of the EU delegation to Lesotho, Ambassador Paola Amadei, highlighted the initiative’s alignment with the global gateway, the European strategy to boost smart, clean, and secure links in various sectors across the world.

Metsi a Lesotho aims to ensure communities have access to clean water and sanitation services, while preserving water and land resources for present and future generations. Lesotho is often described as the water tower of Southern Africa and portrayed as a country rich in water, providing around one-third of the water in Gauteng and contributing 40 percent of the Senqu-Orange river basin,” Amadei said.

“At the same time, this image of abundance is still in contrast with the lived reality of many people in Lesotho who have to walk long distances to access water, who experience malfunctioning water service delivery, or who are faced with polluted water sources. For this reason, the number one priority in the European Union’s cooperation with Lesotho, through this new programme we launch today, is to ensure that everyone enjoys the right to safe drinking water and that no one is left behind,” she said.

Prime Minister Ntsokoane Sam Matekane, speaking at the same event, underscored the longstanding partnership between Lesotho and the EU. Matekane said since he became prime minister in 2022, he had witnessed significant financing agreements between the government and the EU.

“EU continues to be one of Lesotho’s leading development partners since the conception of the diplomatic corporation between Lesotho and the EU. The EU has surrendered to the kingdom of Lesotho greater afford in the areas of water, energy, and governance,” he stated.

Matekane highlighted the importance of the agreement in addressing climate change impacts. “This agreement testifies to the EU’s commitment to supporting our government’s efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change,” he said.

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