U.S. Provides Drought Relief to Hardest Hit Areas

The United States Government will provide $50,000 (approximately M768,000) to improve access to safe drinking water and provide hygiene education in two of the districts hardest hit by the ongoing drought, Mafeteng and Mohale’s Hoek. The donation comes in response to a State of Emergency declared by the Government of Lesotho requesting international support. These funds are provided in friendship by the American people and will be administered by World Vision Lesotho. Among the projects funded will be the purchase of sixteen 5,000-liter tanks to provide improved water storage capacity at key sites, the acquisition and distribution of water treatment supplies, the rehabilitation of 10 hand pumps at boreholes, and hygiene and sanitation training for affected residents.

The current drought in Lesotho is one of the most severe in the country’s history. It has widely affected water supplies and food production. As a result of the drought, community water points and boreholes have failed to meet demand, leading many Basotho to resort to using unprotected water sources. In some parts of the country, water shortages have resulted in rationing and tight water restrictions.

While recent rains have offered some relief in parts of the country, the worst affected areas in Mafeteng and Mohale’s Hoek continue to suffer severe water shortages. In response to the extreme need in these two districts, the United States Government is providing this immediate support to ensure access to safe drinking water for Basotho living in those affected areas as well as training on best practices related to hygiene and sanitation.

This assistance complements several earlier U.S.–supported activities to improve resilience and enhance access to potable water. In 2013, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) completed a five-year compact with the Government of Lesotho to increase economic growth and reduce poverty. Under that agreement, the United States provided $150 million (approximately M2.3 billion) to support projects in the water sector. Those projects aimed to improve access to a secure and clean water supply and sanitation services, including support for one of the largest infrastructure improvement projects in Lesotho’s history, Metolong Dam. The dam, which came online at the end of last year, has been critical in ensuring a regular supply of water to the urban centers of Maseru, Roma, and Teyateyaneng, even during the recent severe drought conditions. Other successes of the MCC water sector project included construction of 13 water reservoirs and the rehabilitation of five additional reservoirs, the upgrading of five pumping stations, construction of nearly 30,000 latrines throughout the country, and completion of 208 water retention structures in wetlands activity areas.

For further information, please contact the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy at 2231-2666 or email TsiameST@state.gov.