Friday, January 15, 2021

Botswana seeks to borrow P1.5bn to improve water provision

Acting Minister of Finance and Economic Development Nonofo Molefhi this week presented, on urgent basis, the Emergency Water Security and Efficiency Project by International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) (Loan Authorisation) Bill, 2017 (No. 5 of 2017). 

The Bill seeks to approve a loan application of P1.5 billion from the development bank by Botswana. 

“The tender process will be international competitive bidding. However, it was agreed with IBRD that at the time bidding documents are prepared, consideration will be given to split tenders for the benefit of local companies,” Molefhi said on Thursday.

In early March 2017, the World Bank Board approved a loan amounting to a total sum of $145.5 million to Botswana .The loan approval that took place last week is for the emergency water security and efficiency project.

The World Bank Country Director, Paul Noumba, said at the time of the approval that the project would help Botswana cope with increased water stress arising from numerous factors such as chronic draught.

 “The proposed measure is therefore critical for the sustainable development of the country, particularly given current climate change projects,” he said.

The project is said to have been prepared in response to the El-Nino-related drought that was from 2015-2016 as it was rated to be a severe one in the last 34 years.

Though the droughts are said to be chronic, the 2015-17 drought worsened the situation further as the fragile water balance tremendously decreased.

Until recently, the infrastructural faults of North South Carrier (NSC) pipeline coupled with the prolonged dry season caused a significant decline in the water levels of dams. 

However, recent rains, have since restored water levels of most of the dams to over 100 percent. 

The World Bank task team leader, Mukami Kariuki said: “While the recent rains have alleviated the dry condition faced over the past three years, due to low recharge rates, ground water levels will take several years to recover.” Kariuki said the project is to facilitate the government’s ongoing efforts to combine and manage surface and ground water resource more effectively

Sunday Standard has been informed that the aim of the upcoming project is to improve the availability of water supply in most affected areas as well as to strength waste management in certain systems.

 The loan facility is also expected to better the operational efficiency of the Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) which is reportedly cash-strapped.

It is said that an estimate of 460 000 people in selected settlements are to benefit from the rehabilitation of the existing water supply system and 177 000 people roughly will benefit from the improved waste water treatment management system.

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