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Countries Cooperating to Bring Clean Water to Lesotho

16 January 2014
Rocky banks overlooking parked trucks and muddy paths (MCC)

When completed, the Metolong Dam in Lesotho will provide a reliable source of water to nearly 125,000 people.

Washington — Governments and organizations from the United States, Africa, Europe and the Middle East are working hand-in-hand to provide clean water to homes and businesses in Lesotho.

The Metolong Dam Water Supply Program, one of Lesotho’s largest infrastructure programs since the country’s independence in 1966, aims to provide a reliable source of water to nearly 125,000 people. The roughly $400 million project is “a prime example of donor coordination that will ultimately benefit the Basotho people,” the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) says.

According to the MCC, rapid growth in Lesotho’s capital of Maseru has strained the region’s water supply. Both residential and industrial customers suffer water shortages during the dry season, stifling economic growth in the country’s commercial hub.

International donors have committed funds to build different parts of the water supply system:

• As part of the MCC’s recently completed $363 million compact with Lesotho, the U.S. agency funded construction of the water-treatment facility, command reservoir and associated pipelines for the Metolong Dam Water Supply Program. Funding also went toward project design and the project-management unit.

• The dam itself is being built with financing from the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, the Saudi Fund for Development, the OPEC Fund for International Development and the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa.

• The European Investment Bank is financing a major pipeline connecting the dam to a reservoir above Maseru, as well as secondary pipelines.

• The World Bank is financing secondary lines and other infrastructure.

• South Africa’s government is constructing a visitor center and housing for the system’s operators.

• Lesotho’s government will spend almost $33 million on infrastructure.

When completed in 2014, the new dam along the Phuthiatsana River will stand 73 meters high and 210 meters long. It is projected to provide enough water for the region’s growing population into the next decade.

“The Metolong Dam represents both the future of water security in Lesotho as well as a model of coordination on large-scale development projects. And, ultimately, it is the people of Lesotho who will most benefit from such coordinated efforts,” the MCC says.