October 28, 2004

World Bank funding to mitigate water shortages

Lesotho is to receive a US$ 14.1 million loan from the World Bank for the extension of water and sanitation services to peri-urban and underserved urban neighbourhoods. As the Bank said in a statement, the Lesotho Water Sector Improvement project aims to "ensure adequate supply of clean water and sanitation services for consumers living in the Lowlands. It will finance needed infrastructure for increasing urban water supply in the capital, Maseru, paying particular attention to fast-growing peri-urban and industrial areas". One component of the project will focus on policy implementation and capacity building in the Ministry of Natural Resources, another on the extension of Maseru's water supply, including selected civil works to increase water treatment and expand the distribution system. Lesotho's public water utility, the Water and Sanitation Authority, will also sign a performance agreement with the government. "This agreement is aimed at strengthening the commercial, financial and technical operations of this public utility agency, as well as its autonomy and accountability," the Bank commented.
Access to water is a critical part of Lesotho's Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), and the Bank noted that the current "unreliability of urban potable water supply presents a disproportionate burden on the poor, who are more likely to pay higher rates for water through informal markets." (IRIN)

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