Solar-power brings water to rural Lesotho

IRENE SEME

QUTHING – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in partnership with the United Kingdom Aid (UK Aid) continues to support installation of operational water supply systems in rural Lesotho.

This week, communities of Ha Lelinyane in Mafeteng, Alwyn’s Kop in Quthing and Makhaleng Primary School in Mohale’s Hoek received solar-powered water supply system pumps from the two international organisations. UNICEF, UK Aid and the Ministry of Water visited residents of these villages during handover ceremonies where jubilant villagers narrated decades-long challenges they had faced without a reliable supply of clean water in their villages.

The British High Commissioner to Lesotho, Anne Macro, revealed during the tour that the British government has approved a programme worth M125 million to provide assistance to Southern African countries in the areas of water, sanitation, child protection, nutrition food and livelihoods. Macro said this is “in response to climate induced food calamities worsened by the effects of Covid-19 lockdowns.”

Macro added that this programme is delivered by UNICEF, International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the Red Cross. She expressed gratitude that Lesotho had received a bigger chunk of the funds which will enable UNICEF to work in areas of water and sanitation. The UNICEF representative, Anurita Bains, thanked the British government for the funding, and said she was proud to formally hand over one of the 79 water systems that have been rehabilitated in seven of the country’s districts.

Bains said: “With this support and with the Department of Rural Water Supply, the Ministry of Water has constructed or rehabilitated 79 rural water supply systems, including 12 newly drilled boreholes.” She clarified that through this programme about 22 communities, approximately 70 schools and 12 healthcare facilities have benefitted. Further, over 100 000 people, including nearly 15 000 learners in schools now have access to safe water.

The villagers acknowledged the Ministry of Water, which was present through its deputy minister, Mankoe Maime, who pleaded with the villagers to take care of the equipment given to them. He emphasized that they take ownership of the equipment. Speaking at the handover ceremony in Alwyn’s Kop at Askop Primary School, Maime said it is his ministry’s mandate to restore water supply to communities across the country which is why the UK Aid and UNICEF assisted in that respect.

Maime pleaded with the residents to police each other to ensure that no one steals the equipment. He outlined that the seven districts on the plan are: Mokhotlong, Botha-Bothe, Thaba-Tseka, Mafeteng, Mohale’s Hoek, Qacha’s Nek and Quthing. Maime noted that schools were a primary focus in water restoration, therefore, a large number of schools will benefit more than other sectors.

To the community of Ha Lelinyane, Maime pointed out that the residents of Kolo constituency, which Ha Lelinyane is part of, have been struggling with water supply for years because the boreholes in the area are too few to adequately supply all villagers. He said the current water tank is only temporary and a bigger one which will supply many villages is yet to be built. Maime then thanked the development partners for the assistance and pleaded that they should extend further support to the three remaining districts of the country as communities in those areas also struggle with water supply.

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