Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Government counts water costs associated with pandemic

Government’s operational costs due to water bowsing have increased to P13 million per month from P6 million per month before the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services put in measures such as reconnection of all owing customers, suspension of disconnections country-wide which resulted in declining revenue collections, decreased financial input and unsustainable water supply. 

Minister for Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, Kefentse Mzwinila told Parliament that an emerging issue such as the COVID-19 pandemic poses serious challenges as the control of the virus requires reliable water supply. He said as an effort to mitigate the challenge, the Ministry is undertaking extensive bowsing throughout the country which included the provision of additional capacity for supplementary bowsing to areas with pervasive water shortages, plus an additional 41 un-gazetted settlements. 

“A great need exists for refurbishment and expansion of reticulation networks to at least minimise the leakages and water losses,” said Mzwinila.

He stated that it is the responsibility of the Ministry to make sure all the available water resources together with existing infrastructure are kept safe from any form of damage, misuse and pollution. He said it is therefore crucial to manage their water in an integrated approach, invest in inclusive sanitation management and monitor the water from resources to the tap and vice versa.  

He believes that international cooperation on water also remains a key role of the Ministry to create a friendly environment with other riparian states in order to promote proper management and access to transboundary water resources for the common goal of all member states.

“Our future water security is dependent on getting access to water resources which are outside the country,” he stated.

Mzwinila also stated that Botswana is already challenged by scarcity of naturally occurring water resources due to the aridity of the country. He said together with the challenges caused by climate variability and uncertainty, growing demand due to population and economic growth, the natural water scarcity creates persistent water shortages. He stated that the sparse population distribution together with spatial mismatch between water resources and water demand centres requires expensive inter-basin transfer schemes and conveyance pipelines. He said the schemes also require construction of numerous pump stations, treatment plants and storage tanks across the country.

“Through the support of the World Bank Loan the Ministry is implementing various initiatives under the Botswana Emergency Water Security and Efficiency (BEWSE) project,” said Mzwinila.

He further stated: The most notable are the National Integrated Water Resources Management and Water Efficiency Plan of 2013 and the institutional strengthening and capacity building of the water sector. He added that the Ministry has also commenced procurement of groundwater and surface water monitoring equipment. He said the equipment will be used to enhance the reliability and coverage of hydro-meteorological monitoring network. 

Mzwinila stated that the network is meant to facilitate knowledge-based decision making in the planning and management of water resources.

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