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Second phase of Lesotho Highlands Water Project launched

The second phase of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project has been launched. (Image source: Damien du Toit/Flickr)

South Africa and Lesotho have launched the second phase of the US$1.3bn Lesotho Highlands Water Project

The second phase will include the construction of a 155-metre-high Polihali Dam and tunnels. The first phase of the project supplies South Africa with about 10bn cubic metres (cu m) of water per year, and the amount will increase to 17mn cu m upon completion of the second phase, according to the South African Water and Environmental Affairs department.

Jacob Zuma, president of South Africa, said, "This is a good opportunity for the people of Lesotho and South Africa- not only will many people get jobs but our relationship as countries continue to be strengthened through projects such as these."

According to the president, this is a win-win project as South Africa will get the water and Lesotho, the revenue. South Africa has scarce reserves of water, whereas poverty is entrenched in rural areas of Lesotho where nearly 70 per cent of the population resides, according to a study by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

The landlocked nation of Lesotho has benefitted from infrastructure development, road linkages and upgrades since the inception of the project in 1998 and generates hydropower from the dams built so far.

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