The African Water Facility promotes sustainable growth through climate resilient water resources development in Southern Africa

29/11/2016
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The African Water Facility (AWF) approved a grant of about €2 million to support a multinational transboundary project to prepare a Climate Resilient Water Resources Investment Strategy and Multipurpose Project for the Orange-Senqu River Basin, serving the population of Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa. The main goal of this project is to promote sustainable socio-economic growth in the basin riparian countries through climate resilient water resources development in the framework of basin wide cooperation led by the Orange Senqu River Basin Commission (ORASECOM). The project will foster enhanced sustainable water resources management of the basin, increased investments based on better planning allowing more multipurpose projects to address the livelihood needs of the communities living in rural and urban areas.

Ensuring Water Security in Southern Africa. The Orange-Senqu River basin originates in the highlands of Lesotho and runs for over 2,300 kilometres to its mouth on the Atlantic Ocean in Namibia/South Africa. The river system is one of the largest river basins in Africa and encompasses all of the Lesotho, a significant portion of South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. The basin poses complex water management challenges for safeguarding future water security. The central theme of ensuring water security under increased hydrological variability compounded by climate change impact remains the key water resources management issue. The objectives of the project are to prepare an optimised water resources investment strategy and plan and select a priority transboundary project to be prepared at feasibility level. Ensuring climate resilience will be key in planning and developing water infrastructure. The project, amounting about €3.5 million including the AWF grant of about €2 million and US $1.2 million from the NEPAD-IPPF, also promotes ORASECOM’s capacity building and institutional development.

“There are multiple challenges related to deteriorating environmental conditions and increasing competitive uses of a scarce water resource in the Orange-Senqu River basin. Tackling poverty alleviation and environmental preservation requires an integrated management of the water resource and the development of climate resilient infrastructure. The AWF project promotes these approaches,” said Jean Michel Ossete, AWF Acting Coordinator.

Major Economic Impacts on 19 million people. The Orange-Senqu River basin is of major economic importance to South Africa and Lesotho as it contributes to respectively 26% and 100% of their GDP. The beneficiaries of the AWF investment strategy project will be the 14 million people living in the riparian communities in the basin as well as 5 additional million inhabitants in South Africa located outside the basin but benefitting from its water resource through water transfer schemes. The development of the basin water resources resilience to climate change will greatly improve livelihoods and engender sustainable socio-economic growth in the region.