‘Min­istry not just about wa­ter’

Lesotho Times - - Big Interview -

When the cur­rent seven-party govern­ment came to power af­ter the 28 Fe­bru­ary 2015 snap elec­tions, it de­cided to es­tab­lish three more min­istries, among them that of Wa­ter headed by hon­ourable Ralechate Mokose.

The move to es­tab­lish this crit­i­cal min­istry was wel­comed by the pop­u­lace as a great ac­com­plish­ment and step in the right di­rec­tion since easy ac­cess to clean wa­ter re­mains one of the great­est chal­lenges fac­ing many de­vel­op­ing na­tions, with Le­sotho be­ing no ex­cep­tion. In this wide-rang­ing in­ter­view, Mr Mokose tells Le­sotho Times (LT) re­porter, Retha­bile Pitso, why govern­ment saw it nec­es­sary to cre­ate this min­istry.

LT: You are head of a new min­istry whose ti­tle ap­pears self-ex­plana­tory. But what ex­actly is your man­date as the Min­istry of Wa­ter?

‘Mokose: The man­date of the Min­istry of Wa­ter is “The PRO­VI­SION OF WA­TER SUP­PLY AND SAN­I­TA­TION SER­VICES AND WA­TER RESOUCES MAN­AGE­MENT FOR SO­CIO ECO­NOMIC DE­VEL­OP­MENT OF The PEO­PLE OF LE­SOTHO ( Ho Se­beletsa Hore Ba­sotho Ba Fu­mantsoe Metsi Le Lit­se­beletso Tsa Likho­erekho­ere Met­seng Ea Bona Moo Ba Phe­leng Teng, Le Hore Metsi A Naha A Fu­mantse Ba­sotho Me­se­betsi)”.

This man­date was de­vel­oped fol­low­ing the for­mu­la­tion of the Coali­tion Agree­ment of April 2015, par­tic­u­larly with ref­er­ence to Spe­cific Com­mit­ment B2 that says “en­hanc­ing the strate­gic man­age­ment of nat­u­ral re­sources through cre­at­ing a Min­istry of Wa­ter”.

We have there­fore, agreed to pro­duce a doc­u­ment de­tail­ing our ob­jec­tives for the next five years which would an­swer the needs of the peo­ple. My Min­istry has adopted key de­tails of the Coali­tion Agree­ment as well as the ‘Speech from the Throne’ (by his Majesty King Let­sie III) to­wards pro­duc­ing a five-year strate­gic work-plan.

LT: But what are the key ob­jec­tives of the min­istry? ‘Mokose: This min­istry seeks to en­sure that Ba­sotho have wa­ter in their vil­lages and that jobs are cre­ated through op­por­tu­ni­ties avail­able in the wa­ter sec­tor. This will be achieved through the fol­low­ing min­is­te­rial ob­jec­tive: “To achieve wa­ter se­cu­rity through proper man­age­ment of wa­ter re­sources, col­lec­tion, de­liv­ery and us­age of wa­ter, and pro­vi­sion of sew­er­age ser­vices”.

Our ut­most fo­cus is to pro­vide safe and clean drink­ing wa­ter de­void of germs nor­mally found in in­for­mal sources of wa­ter such as rivers, dams and un­pro­tected springs which many ru­ral vil­lagers are still us­ing.

We are striv­ing to put-up proper fa­cil­i­ties such as pit-la­trines in vil­lages where they are mostly needed in or­der to move away from un­san­i­tary meth­ods of re­lief usu­ally prac­ticed by peo­ple with­out these es­tab­lish­ments, where they were er­ro­neously placed within the vicin­ity of in­for­mal tra­di­tional drink­ing wa­ter sources.

This was prob­lem­atic be­cause when it rained, the sewage would be washed into these wa­ter sources. We want to im­prove san­i­ta­tion and there­fore the health of the peo­ple of Le­sotho.

LT: What are the pro­jec­tions the min­istry hopes to un­der­take with re­gard to the bud­get al­lo­ca­tion for the 2015/16 fis­cal year?

‘Mokose: We have been al­lo­cated a re­cur­rent bud­get of M93 134 774.00 to be used to­wards cov­er­ing min­is­te­rial ex­penses such as man­power, travel and op­er­at­ing costs to sup­port the im­ple­men­ta­tion of cap­i­tal/de­vel­op­ment projects. We have also been al­lo­cated a cap­i­tal bud­get which will be steered to­wards cap­i­tal projects such as in­stalling wa­ter taps and toi­lets in re­mote ar­eas, putting fin­ish­ing touches on Me­to­long Dam which is at its com­ple­tion stages. The cap­i­tal bud­get com­prises of funds from govern­ment and de­vel­op­ment part­ners to­talling M1 140 253 843.00. Me­to­long Dam will sup­ply Maseru city, TY, Roma and Morija with wa­ter. The funds will largely be used for com­plet­ing the re­main­ing ac­tiv­i­ties in the Me­to­long Dam and Waterr Sup­ply Pro­gramme (MDWSP) at M 875,565,110.00,5,110.00, and the main­te­nance and con­struc­tionon of new ur­ban and ru­ral wa­ter sup­ply and san­i­ta­tio­nani­ta­tion fa­cil­i­ties, in­clud­ing the In­te­gratedd Wa­ter Re­sources Man­age­ment.

In ru­ral ar­eas of Le­sotho, wa­terer sup­ply and san­i­ta­tion ser­vices will be pro­vided to all the 10 dis­tricts in 82 vil­lages.s. The cov­er­age of wa­ter sup­ply in vil­lages s per district will be in the fol­low­ing man­ner:ner: Butha-buthe (7), Leribe (10), Berea (4), Maseru (15), Mafeteng (5), Mo­hale’s hoek (8), Quthing (10), Qacha’s nek (6), Mokhot­long (9), and Thaba-tseka (8). The to­tal num­ber of peo­ple to be served with clean wa­ter will be 33 620. In all the ten dis­tricts of Le­sotho, a to­tal of 9218 pit-la­trines will be erected.

There are also a num­ber of projects we have em­barked on in ur­ban ar­eas. In Maseru, there is an on­go­ing project called Maseru Ur­ban and Peri-ur­ban Wa­ter Sup­ply Project aimed at re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing old wa­ter-pipe sys­tems in the vil­lages of Maseru West, ha hoohlo, Florida, Polo Ground, Old eu­ropa, eu­ropa, happy Villa, Maseru CBD and Masianokeng.

The other one is the Greater Maseru Wa­ter Sup­ply Fea­si­bil­ity study that has been com­pleted. We are at a de­tailed design stage now. The vil­lages that are cov­ered un­der this project are Mazenod, ha Luka, ha ‘Masana, ha Tsi­ame, ha Makhoathi, ha Lenono, ha Bosofo, Ha ‘Ne­lese, Ha Foso, Marabeng, Berea and Maqhaka. “The Five Towns Wa­ter Sup­ply” project en­com­passes pro­vi­sion of wa­ter in five dis­tricts of Butha-buthe, hlotse, Mafeteng, Mo­hale’s hoek and Qacha. The Ma­put­soe In­dus­trial Wa­ter Sup­ply Aug­men­ta­tion Project will be im­ple­mented whereby wa­ter will be ex­tracted from Mo­hokare River. This is to cater for in­dus­trial wa­ter needs. A to­tal of 12 776 peo­ple are set to ben­e­fit from these projects.

The projects that are aimed at pro­vid­ing san­i­ta­tion ser­vices in ur­ban towns slightly dif­fer from those in ru­ral ar­eas whereby pit­la­trines are built. In ur­ban ar­eas, we im­prove sew­er­age tech­nolo­gies that trans­port wa­ter from houses to man­aged sewage fa­cil­i­ties. We are un­der­tak­ing the Maseru Waste Wa­ter Project that in­volves trans­port­ing retic­u­lated sewage from vil­lages such as Ma­sowe I, II and IV, Thet­sane, Khu­bet­soana, Mabote, naleli, Makoanyane, nhtc and Fil­ter clin­ics of Mabote Qoal­ing and Likotsi.

The Maseru South West Waste Wa­ter project will be im­ple­mented in the ar­eas of ha Pena Pena, Ma­sowe I and other parts of ha Abia. Un­der Four Towns waste wa­ter project, Butha-buthe, Hlotse, Ma­put­soe and Tey­ateya­neng will be cov­ered.

LT: How do you plan to tackle con­cerns raised by Ba­sotho who feel the coun­try is build­ing dams at their ex­pense yet there are no ben­e­fits ac­crued from projects such as the Le­sotho High­lands Wa­ter Projects?

‘Mokose: The con­cerns raised by Ba­sotho about the Le­sotho high­lands Wa­ter Project are prompted by the fact that we,as govern­ment have prob­a­bly not done enough to con­sci­en­tize peo­ple about the im­por­tance of the project in both Le­sotho and South Africa. We there­fore, in this coali­tion govern­ment, have to make Ba­sotho aware that from in­cep­tion, the project was the creation of the two coun­tries’ dou­ble co­in­ci­dence of needs.

These needs, on the Le­sotho side, are that Le­sotho uses her abun­dant, har­nessed wa­ter to earn ex­ter­nal rev­enue and to re­duce her en­ergy im­ports while the needs on the RSA side are to meet her in­dus­trial wa­ter needs and to sat­isfy the house­hold needs of her cit­i­zens. We will make Ba­sotho aware that in the cur­rent Phase II of the project, we will en­sure that Ba­sotho de­rive max­i­mum ben­e­fits from the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the projects as well as spin offs aris­ing thereof.

The coali­tion govern­ment, through this Min­istry of Wa­ter, will en­sure that the project is used as one of the ve­hi­cles by which Le­sotho’s pri­vate sec­tor should be de­vel­oped in or­der for it to de­rive eco­nomic growth and that the project should, in the end, leave tan­gi­ble and sus­tain­able eco­nomic ben­e­fits to Le­sotho.

We will make Ba­sotho aware that the project will con­trib­ute the an­nual rev­enue of M765,309,254.00 from wa­ter roy­al­ties and M68,600,000.00 from elec­tric­ity sales, to the over­all bud­get of the coun­try in the cur­rent fi­nan­cial year (2015/16).

It is also im­por­tant to high­light that the LHWP does and will con­trib­ute tremen­dously to the de­vel­op­ment of the high­lands of Le­sotho through a net­work of roads, telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions and elec­tric­ity trans­mis­sion lines in­fra­struc­ture brought about by the pri­mary project ob­jec­tive of wa­ter trans­fer and elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion.

The com­mu­ni­ties within the af­fected ar­eas are ben­e­fit­ing from the wa­ter sup­ply and san­i­ta­tion works un­der­taken through the project. The Katse dam is al­ready pro­duc­ing trout fish har­vested from fish farms within the reser­voir, which is be­ing con­sumed within Le­sotho and abroad. We will as the two par­ties (Gov­ern­ments of Le­sotho and South Africa) en­sure that the pro­cure­ment pol­icy of the project caters for the needs of women, youth and the dis­abled. The sec­tors of the com­mu­ni­ties will be en­cour­aged to join the wa­ter and san­i­ta­tion space.

LT: Le­sotho has signed up for the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity Pro­to­col on Shared Wa­ter Cour­ses which calls for joint­man­age­ment of wa­ter be­tween coun­tries shar­ing trans­bound­ary re­sources. How­ever, many Ba­sotho have not un­der­stood this con­cept and con­tin­u­ously be­lieve that they should be the sole ben­e­fi­cia­ries where projects such as LHWP are tak­ing place. What is your re­ac­tion to this per­cep­tion?

‘Mokose: In­deed, we are bound by the SADC Pro­to­col on Shared Wa­ter Cour­ses of 1998 that was re­vised in 2000 through which, as Sadc-mem­bers, we strive to build our economies through nat­u­ral wa­ter that runs through most of our coun­tries.

We have mu­tual needs re­gard­ing wa­ter as SADC states with South Africa, for ex­am­ple, need­ing the re­source to sup­port its in­dus­trial ac­tiv­i­ties while we need it for gen­er­at­ing power. This com­bi­na­tion of needs makes us in­ter­de­pen­dent on one another and these are some of the lessons we need to dis­sem­i­nate to Ba­sotho who still lack an un­der­stand­ing of this co­op­er­a­tion.

LT: Your min­istry in­cor­po­rates many sec­tors. So how are you go­ing to achieve co­or­di­nated ef­forts with other min­istries to­wards en­sur­ing a seam­less and ef­fec­tive ex­e­cu­tion of func­tions?

‘Mokose: We have es­tab­lished a sub­com­mit­tee un­der the Min­istry of Wa­ter where re­spec­tive min­is­ters of Trade and In­dus­try, Tourism, en­vi­ron­ment and Cul­ture, home Af­fairs, en­ergy and Me­te­o­rol­ogy, For­eign Af­fairs and In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions and Small Busi­nesses, Co­op­er­a­tives and Mar­ket­ing dis­cuss is­sues of con­certed ef­forts to link ac­tiv­i­ties with other min­istries.

To­gether as a team, we try to fill in the loop­holes that may crop up when deal­ing with, for in­stance, the tourism sec­tor and trade and in­dus­try as they are im­por­tant to link up to­wards en­sur­ing tourists who visit the coun­try through the wa­ter sec­tor spend money in the coun­try and not else­where. We are work­ing to­gether to­wards a sta­ble econ­omy.

Min­is­ter of Wa­ter ralechate ‘Mokose.

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