The World Bank last week approved a $145.5 million loan to Botswana for the Emergency Water Security and Efficiency Project. This will be used to improve water availability in drought vulnerable areas, according to the Bank.
“The Project will help Botswana cope with increased water stress, arising from a number of factors including chronic drought,” said Paul Noumba Um, the World Bank Country Director. “The proposed measures are therefore critical for the sustainable development of the country, particularly given current climate change projections.” The Project was prepared in response to the 2015-2016 El-Nino related drought which was rated extremely severe - the worst in the last 34 years.
Although droughts in Botswana are chronic, acute events such as the 2015-2017 drought further aggravate the fragile water balance. In 2015, overall dam levels fell below 20 percent of their design capacity and ground water sources in several water supply schemes dried up or became saline. The Project will improve the availability of water supply in drought vulnerable areas, strengthen wastewater management in selected systems and improve the operational efficiency of the Water Utilities Corporation.
“While the recent rains have alleviated the dry conditions faced over the past three years, due to low recharge rates, groundwater levels will take several years to recover,” said Mukami Kariuki, World Bank Task Team Leader. “The Project will also support the Government’s ongoing efforts to integrate and manage surface and ground water resources more effectively.”
Around 460,000 people in select settlements will benefit from augmentation or rehabilitation of existing water supply systems and about 177,000 people will benefit from improved wastewater treatment and sludge management systems. In addition, targeted measures to interlink, protect and secure surface and groundwater resource will be undertaken, and support for institutional strengthening and capacity development provided, in order to improve the efficiency of services and sustainability of water resources in Botswana.