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Lesotho’s Water Supply Report: Executive Summary: Conclusions and Recommendations
The Environmental Monitoring Group
Environmental Monitoring Group
PO Box 18977
South Africa, 7824
Tel: +27 +21 7610549/788 2473
Fax: 762 2238
Group for Environmental Monitoring
Tel:011 403 7666
Fax:011 403 7563
International Rivers Network
PO Box 2723
Tel: +267–353–337, Fax: 359–337
Water conservation and demand management (WC/DM) holds tremendous
potential to help the region to meet its water needs. Urban and
agricultural water use in southern Africa is highly inefficient.
In South Africa, for example, it is estimated that nearly half
of urban water is wasted through water loss or inefficiency.
Similarly, irrigation in Southern Africa, which represents 69
percent of total consumption, is estimated to be less than 50
percent efficient. If irrigation practices could be made only
10 percent more efficient across the region, 2.5 billion cubic
meters would be saved each year. If urban water use across the
region could be made only 10 percent more efficient, more than
600 million cubic meters would be saved each year. Together these
savings would provide enough water to supply every person in
the region who is currently unserved by water services with more
than 100 litres per day. Clearly, effective implementation of
water conservation and demand management practices could go a
long way toward solving the region’s water troubles.
Very few WC/DM measures have been implemented in southern
Africa to date. Research conducted for this report suggests that
fewer than one–third of the 40 million urban water users who
are served by developed supply systems are encouraged to use
water efficiently by any measure other than escalating block
tariffs. Although this economic tool can be effective, without
other components of a comprehensive WC/DM campaign such as public
education it will have little effect. In the agricultural sector,
nearly half of all irrigated land is watered by highly inefficient
flood irrigation methods, while more efficient methods such as
micro jet and drip irrigation are applied on less than 10 percent
of irrigated farmland. See Table 1 below for summary of the status
of WC/DM implementation in certain southern African countries.
1. Status of WC/DM Planning and Implementation in Selected SADC
Strategy or Programme
Policy/ Legislation to follow.
reviewing 05/99 Draft Strategy.
tariffs, leak detection.
Policy/ Legislation to follow.
program to follow revised Water Act
Water Bill ‘98 not yet enacted.
No. ‘98 Water Bill will est. Water Auth to devel. Water Master Plan.
strategy in development. Urban providers developing programs.
program in Hermanus; limited in Durban, Johannesburg, and Cape
application. Research ongoing, few projects ongoing, eg Blyde
tariffs only in Harare; new program in Bulawayo.
In the past WC/DM initiatives have been considered only as
strategies associated with environmental or drought response
which often led to inefficient water supply planning. The key
challenge for the WC/DM approach is its integration into the
water resource planning process.
Southern Africa faces a serious water supply challenge driven
by scarce and unevenly distributed water resources, rapid population
growth and urbanisation, and imperatives of development and social
Water use in the urban and agricultural sectors is generally
highly inefficient, with waste/inefficiencies of up to 50 percent
and 60 percent respectively.
Although the policy and legal framework for implementing
WC/DM has been established in many southern African countries,
very few measures have been put in place.
Fewer than one–third of all urban water users are encouraged
to conserve water by any measure other than escalating block
tariffs, and only two cities in the entire region have implemented
comprehensive WC/DM programmes (the population of these two cities
represents less than one percent of the regional urban population).
Flood irrigation, which achieves only 55 percent efficiency,
is used on more than half of all irrigated land in the region.
An increase in efficiency of only 20 percent in urban and
agricultural water use would save 9000 million m3
each year – more than the combined use of Namibia, Botswana,
Swaziland and Zimbabwe, and more than 10 times the combined yield
of Katse and Mohale dams of the LHWP.
Water "produced" through WC/DM can be 65 to 80
percent less expensive than water developed through new infrastructure.
Water providers in Gauteng could delay the construction of
the next water supply dam by 12 years through an effective WC/DM
programme, and save R2 billion/US$325 million each year.
WC/DM principles should be integrated fully into water supply
planning, i.e., water potentially produced through increased
efficiency and decreased losses should be considered along side
other options at the beginning of supply planning processes.
Water management entities should establish specific targets/standards
for water use efficiency and allowable loss for each water sector
and develop strategies to achieve those targets.
Mechanisms for financing WC/DM approaches should be developed,
including traditional methods enjoyed by the dam building industry
as well as new innovative mechanisms.