Although government is trying very hard to sensitize Batswana to use water prudently, such efforts seem to be bearing very little fruit as Batswana continue to mismanage their limited water resources.
This revelation was made by Minister of Minerals Water and Energy Resources (MEWR), Kitso Mokaila when officially opening the Water Pitso in Francistown last week. He called for active stakeholder participation in addressing misuse of the dwindling water resources.
“Batswana continue to waste water despite the fact that they are continuously sensitized on the declining water resources in our country. It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that the limited water resources that we have are used prudently. Perhaps we need to enhance our stakeholder participation in implementation of our water management initiatives,” he said.
Mokaila said there is need for all stakeholders to re-strategize and find more innovative solutions to tackle these challenges. He said the country is faced with a number of water challenges amongst others, absence of suitable dam sites, climate change effects and spatial mismatch between water demands and availability, a situation which is a serious threat to the country. He also said the situation is worsened by increasing pollution risks to water resources due to poor sanitation.
“At the current rates of abstraction, and under limited recharge conditions groundwater resources are being depleted unless sustainable interventions such as artificial recharge are put in place, a project which my ministry is currently embarking on,” he said.
On a positive note, Mokaila said during NDP 10, the water sector embarked on various strategies aimed at providing good quality water in an equitable and sustainable manner for different purposes. He said in recognizing that water represents one of the key constraints to future sustained growth, government has developed a draft National Water Policy which provides policy direction for water resources planning, development and management of water resources in the country.
“This policy has been approved by cabinet and is now awaiting debate by parliament for endorsement. Another development is the Botswana Energy and Water Regulator, which is still going through various stages of governance review,” Mokaila said.
Taking into consideration the declining water resources and increasing demand for water, the Minister said there is an urgent need to judiciously account for every drop of water that is available in Botswana. He said in that regard, his Ministry is implementing a project in Wealth Accounting and Evaluation of Ecosystems (WAVES) partnership programme on water accounts; and to date a report on phase one and two has been completed. He said the output from the project will help government to better manage its scarce water resource.
“The water sector has also identified the need to develop robust infrastructure to enable effective and effective use of our scarce water resources. Some of the notable projects include construction of three new dams namely Dikgatlhong, Lotsane and Thune; construction of water transfer schemes like NSC2, Chobe Zambezi transfer scheme, Lesotho Highlands Feasibility Study and development or rehabilitation of some well fields such as Masama and Ramotswa,” he said.
In an endeavour to improve water and waste water services, Mokaila said efforts are being made in expanding and rehabilitating water networks, installation of disinfection systems to improve water quality, increment of storage capacities, and construction of wastewater treatment facilities and major refurbishment of existing ones. He also said in this respect, the government is committed to providing funding to ongoing water supply projects amounting to P430 million during the plan period 2015/2016 as part of the National Water Supply Bridging Gap Programme.
“The water sector continues to exploit alternative water resources, such as effluent utilization, grey water recycling, rain water harvesting to name but a few. This will intensify the promotion of water conservation and water demand management measures and practices and hence close the water loop,” said Mokaila Among other important issues, he said Botswana has made strides in making collaborations or partnerships that exist within the water sector, such as the Botswana Gourds Association, for educational awareness on water resources management through arts in the Limpopo region. This year’s Water Pitso was held under the theme, “Sustainable interventions to address Botswana water challenges: In partnership with stake holders.”