Ahead of the 2019 General Elections one of the trump card for political parties was the supply of potable water to all communities in Botswana as well provision of waste water management.
Two years after the elections, most major villages in Botswana are still struggling to have sustainable water supply and many believe hydro politics will play a pivotal role in the 2024 elections.
In 2013 Botswana came up with Emergency Water Security and Efficiency Project ((WSRP) which has been funded by the World Bank by a $145.5, and was meant to address water crisis by 2021.
One of the issues that were highlighted in the report was that the Botswana Integrated Water Resources Management and Water Efficiency Plan (IWRMͲWE) needs to address gaps and weakness in Botswana’s water resources management. “These include the lack of clear targets that can guide and accelerate IWRM implementation; government domination in water management with limited participation of other stakeholders; slow pace of putting IWRM in practice after the 2006 NWMPR; slow progress with the water sector reforms,” reads the report.
Specific IWRM gaps and challenges include approval of the 2012 Water Policy and an outdated legislative environment, inadequate attention for allocative efficiency and inadequate attention for water quality.
Though WSRP is ending this year, most major water projects are yet to be implemented leaving the communities thirsty and hampering on developments.
Barbara Schreiner, executive director at Water Integrity Network believes that water sector is very vulnerable to corruption and blaming the sector’s fragmented institutions.
In Botswana awarding of the most high capital water projects have been embroiled in controversy with political leadership allegedly involved on who gets the project.
Marumo Omotoye in his Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis (BIDPA) 2020 paper on “Whistleblowing-in-Botswanas-Construction-Industry” highlighted that construction industry is the most corrupt in Botswana. “According to the DCEC, during the year 2018, sixteen construction cases were classified for investigations. Of these sixteen cases, thirteen have an estimated value of P1, 437,096,050.00 (approximately US$117,359,500.00), while one infrastructure project worth about P152 million was put on hold pending an investigation,” reads the report.
Some of the projects that were halted include mostly water projects like Mmamashia Water treatment plant and Maun Water and Sanitation project which were all stopped by the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).
Construction of the Gamononyane pump station-
Molepolole NSC connection pipeline
One of the major villages that has been severely affected by lack of water is Molepolole which has for time immemorial has been struggling with getting portable water.
Despite being one of the densely-populated places in Botswana, the capital village of Bakwena is yet to get quality potable water.
Presenting the recurrent and development budget for his ministry before the Committee of Supply, Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Kefentse Mzwinila said the leg to connect Molepolole to the NSC Connection is at procurement stage and is expeted to be awarded for construction in 2021.
“The scheme will also provide water to villages of Mmanoko, Gakuto, Mmatseta and Kopong,” he informed parliament.
In an interview Member of Parliament for Molepolole North Oabile Regoeng said that he has been informed that the project is at adjudication stage.
“I spoke to Minister Muzwnila just last week to enquire about the progress of the project and assured me that it is on the right track,” he said.
Regoeng admitted that the water crisis is not sitting well with Bakwena and said that he understand their situation but will put pressure on government to deliver on its promise.
According to a research in the American journal of Human Ecology titled, “Socio- Economic Factors in Rural Water Scarcity: A Case Study of Molepolole Village in Botswana by Wapula Raditloaneng, he argues that the capacity to act rationally by those with power to provide public goods and services is under siege if reason cannot prevail in ensuring continued access to safe drinking water in Molepolole, one of the biggest villages with a high population.
Kanye pipeline network
Though Kanye was connected to the North-South Water Carrier through water flow via the Gamononyane-Mmamashia pipeline in 2021 the villagers are yet to see the water coming from their taps.
Briefing parliament recently Mzwinila said the Mmamashia- Kanye water project which connects Kanye,Moshupa and Thamaga to the NSC scheme has been completed in December 2019.
Though he informed parliament that the scheme has improved water in localities of Thamaga, Moshupa and Kanye, the situation on the ground is different as the taps are dry in Kanye.
“The problem is the water distribution network which needs to be replaced and the tender is yet to be awarded,” revealed a source at Water Utilities Corporation (WUC).
The pipeline network is said to be old and most cases leaking leading to water being lost to the ground.
Though it is the prime tourist area in Botswana, Maun has gone for decades with shortage of potable water and in most cases the water is not drinkable.
Currently the tourist town which has been hard hit by Covid-19 pandemic is currently in crippling shortage of six million litres a day.
The North West headquarters needs around 14 million liters of water per day only gets around 9 million litres of water per day.
Though two projects which meant to alleviate the situation being the 6 000 cubic metres per day potable surface water treatment plant at Borolong ward which was completed in in February 2014 at a cost of P65 million and Maun water supply remedial works and a pipeline from Kubung to Wenela Pump Station at a cost of P77 million, the situation has not improved.
After prolonged litigations, the implementation of the Maun Water supply and waste water projects have commenced though they are expected to take some time.
Briefing parliament on his ministry’s recurrent and development budget, Mzwinila said that the implementation of Maun Water Supply and Sanitation Phase II Project has commenced.
“The project is packaged into four (4) contracts and the progress is as follows: Contract 1 commenced in October 2019. The contract will run for a period of 36 months,” he informed parliament.
He added that the contract involves extension and upgrading of Maun water distribution network and sanitation reticulation including telemetry instrumentation and control.
In 2018 the people danced with joy and jubilation as one of their own ascended to the seat of Vice presidency, becoming the first ‘Monoka’ to become the second citizen of Botswana in the country’s political history.
To them they thought it will be the end of their water woes which has worsened recently and posing health hazards as the water have a very strange smell which is not friendly to the nostrils.
Early this year Acting Senior District Officer Development Keitumetse Kewagamang informed leadership in Boteti that construction of Boteti Southern and Central Rural Water Supply Project is expected to start in April 2021.
This is not the first time the project was announced as it happened in 2013 and failed to kick start and in 2014 government promised to build Reverse Osmosis Plants (ROP) at Diphuduhudu and Motopi to treat the smelly water before it is supplied to the villages. The project has since been halted.