Thousands of people in Lesotho who already face chronic food insecurity risk losing access to water, due to the prolonged drought, IRIN, reported on 4 July 2008.
“According to the Lesotho Department of Rural Water Supplies (DRWS), 30 percent of water points – boreholes, wells and springs – in rural areas have dried up. In both the highlands and the lowlands, thousands now depend solely on limited surface water, where and when it is available.
A 2007 assessment of water and sanitation needs in schools, undertaken by the Ministry of Education and Training, indicated that more than 60 percent of boreholes in the lowland districts had already dried up as the water table dropped.”
DRWS figures indicate that up to 30% of households nationwide now lack access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation facilities, up from 21% in 2006
Water scarcity “is likely to lead to increased incidents of water-borne diseases, such as cholera, diarrhoea and dysentery”, UNICEF Education Specialist, Bernard Batidzirai, said.
“An internal MoSW survey found that approximately 60 percent of the country’s health centres did not have access to clean, safe water”.
“In response to the crisis, the UK’s Department for International Development has made available some US$1 million, with which UNICEF has provided 310 hand pumps and rehabilitated 345 more, constructed 40 boreholes and erected 50 water tanks, providing safe drinking water to nearly 200,000 people and 81,000 school children”.
Ironically Lesotho exports large amounts of water to South Africa as part of the controversial Lesotho Highlands Water Project. To tackle the increasing domestic, industrial and institutional water needs in Lesotho, the government has initiated the European Union financed Lesotho Lowlands Water Supply Scheme.