To secure Lesotho’s future, we must secure our water, the country’s “white gold”.
Disturbing news that some villagers in Quthing have resorted to using unclean water that has been used for bathing or laundry, to water their domestic animals due to drought are a wake-up call.
The use of such water is however nothing new, although some studies have shown it can be harmful to the animals.
What should really concern us is: What other water management systems will we resort to by the next generation, by which time experts project demand for water would have far outstripped resources?
Although this used water may contain grease, chemicals from detergents, food particles, hair, and any number of other impurities, it may still be suitable for reuse.
Given that safe usage of recycled water takes a lot of capital investment and expertise, what does it mean for a household that domestic animals such as cats, dogs, pigs and chicken use greywater without any expert intervention to make it safe for both human and animal consumption?
Is there no danger of a fresh round of problems where government will need money to treat people and animals infected by one fresh disease outbreak or other?
It does not help to argue that authorities could not have foreseen that there was going to be a drought because it won’t quench the thirst of man and beast in the suffering communities.
Neither will it solve the immediate problem for district authorities to say they are aware of the problem of lack of clean water at Tele and that the department is currently repairing engines that pump water to the villages and that the repair is taking long because some spare parts have to be imported from abroad.
The buck should stop at someone’s office door.
Peak oil generated headlines in recent years, but the real threat to our future is peak water.
There are substitutes for oil, but not for water.
We can produce food without oil, but not without water.
Water today is cheap but poorly managed and becoming increasingly scarce.
Similar to the challenges facing us with climate change, action on water scarcity is torturously slow.
But unlike climate change, water shortages are life-or-death situations.
It has always been said that the next wars between nations will be fought over water and water rights.
This looked far-fetched until we heard Egypt a few months ago taking Ethiopia to task over the latter’s massive water project upstream on the Nile.
For Lesotho, after the fate of history saw greedy colonisers in the Free State taking away large swathes of land from Basotho, condemning the nation to confinement in the mountains, nature was kind enough to grant the land the distinction of having “white gold” in abundance.
This has ensured our giant neighbour will not take us for granted.
The country should invest a lot more energy and resources in the natural resource, well into the far future.
With climate change visibly drying up many nations; add to this the exponential growth of population, Lesotho’s future is secured but only if we invest time and money in managing water.
Water today is cheap right now, relatively speaking but it’s not going to stay that way.
It’s not plentiful; it is not going to become more plentiful.
Wise investments in managing and developing Lesotho’s water resources are essential to future growth and prosperity.
Foremost, this is a policy choice, but it must also be seen as an imperative. These investments are a necessary part of a country’s future development, but need to be conditioned effectively within overall infrastructure improvements.
All investments made in water infrastructure in any country should integrate three security approaches by including human aspects, economic aspects and environmental aspects.
But the key issue in protecting supplies and ensuring water quality that we should underline is effective adaptation to climate change.