Matekane urges LHDA to expedite  access to water for remote communities

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MOSA MAOENG

MASERU – Prime Minister Ntsokoane Matekane has urged the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) to find ways to ensure that rural communities have access to water. Many remote communities in Lesotho face a huge paradox of lacking access to clean drinking water yet the country supplies large volumes of water to South Africa.

Matekane was speaking during the LHDA Stakeholder Conference and 10-year Strategy Launch yesterday. He said the Polihali Phase 2 project is a huge project for the country therefore Basotho want to see clear benefits from it as well as benefits for neighbouring South Africa which is a partner in the project. Matekane said although part of the water goes to South Africa, there are still some villages in the country with no access to water.

“It is high time that relevant stakeholders identify how the challenge of lack of water in the country, especially in communities can be addressed. I urge the LHDA and relevant stakeholders to touch on this subject as soon as possible to see to it that Basotho in those communities also have access to water. We heard that the LHDA will for a start see to it that communities affected have access to water but our plea is to see the whole country incorporated.

“This needs to happen so that next time when we present ourselves as a country that has plenty of water, we should demonstrate proof of that. I urge relevant stakeholders especially in issues related to water affairs to see to it that this happens soon. It is important to sit down with the government to tackle this issue in all areas. We are expecting to see the lives of Basotho and those involved in the project changed for the better,” he said.

Matekane also said it is important that there is a good relationship between workers and contractors at the Polihali project to ease work and that it is LHDA’s responsibility to see to it that such a relationship is kept. He said issues of complaints and fights between the workers and contractors should be addressed soon and not kept for another day.

Matekane said they are looking forward to working together with South Africa for the benefit of Basotho and Lesotho. Minister of Natural Resources Mohlomi Moleko during the launch also said LHDA has this time around done the work the right way as from the beginning they engaged the public on the launch of their strategy. He said they have applied their mind in the sense that looking at the objectives the first one was to reconnect with the communities and set a platform where they could account to them.

“They included making this a yearly occurrence where they come back to the public and account to them in terms of what they are doing. The second one was actually about the accountability where they were now giving a progress report on phase 2 implementation about how far they are and the challenges they encounter. The third objective was after they went back to look at the phase 1 project checking the lessons learnt there in order to fit into what they are doing currently.

“The last one was actually telling the public about this new strategy and I believe that this strategy has gone back to the basics as it understands the mandate of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) and the various institutions that fall under it,” he said.

LHDA Chief Executive Tente Tente said as much as there is a lot of talk about royalties coming in for the LHDA, they do not come into the LHDA account. Instead, the funds go into the consolidated fund and just like any other government entity of organisation they go and request from it.

He said from around 2016 they started having challenges of having a ceiling amount that does not match what they require to be able to accomplish their mandate. On presenting on the Strategy, Tente said their new strategic approach is that they do not grow when things are easy but they grow when they face challenges.

He said their vision of where they want to be in the next 10 years is that their vision is driven by purpose which also entails creating sustainable socio-economic beneficiation through the development of water resources and electricity generation.

“Our strategic goals and core programmes are based on five goals which are: inclusive access to water resource and electricity, conservation and restoration of ecosystems, improved livelihoods, maximization of commercial opportunities and management accountability, and good corporate governance and accountability. The monitoring and evaluation of the strategic goals, especially in the inclusive access to water and electricity, the outcomes will be economic growth where jobs will be created, revenue increase, infrastructure and access to electricity and water.

“Goal number two which is protection of ecosystems outcomes will be improved ecosystem services where there will be productivity of wetlands, land cover, flood attenuation, water quantity and quality and biodiversity.

“The third goal being livelihoods improvement outcomes include improved food security, household income security and improved health, goal four maximization of commercial opportunities outcomes are financial sustainability, reduced reliance on government funding, sustainable tourism sector and sustainable fisheries sector,” he said.

Tente highlighted that the last goal which is management capacity, good corporate governance and accountability outcomes includes a conducive working environment of which there will be good performance, effective control environment and ethical culture. He also said every strategy has risks and those that they have identified include financial sustainability, governance, political will, management capacity, environmental pollution, biodiversity and ecosystem damage as well as infrastructure failure.  

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