Securing Botswana's water supply for the next 100 years

Genesis Analytics has been appointed the economics and financial specialist on a feasibility project to secure water from Orange River to Botswana, without which Gaborone will run out of water by 2025.

The Orange River basin is one of the largest south of the Zambezi with a catchment area of about one million square kilometres. It encompasses all of Lesotho, and significant parts of South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. The Orange River originates in the Lesotho Highlands and flows in a westerly direction about 2 200km to the west coast where the river discharges into the Atlantic Ocean.

To enhance the objectives of integrated water resources development and management in the region, the Orange–Senqu River Basin Commission (ORASECOM) was established in November 2000.

Water scarcity is a major challenge in the basin. ORASECOM commissioned a basin-level Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) plan was adopted in 2015 by the ORASECOM member states. The IWRM plan recommends strategies and measures to promote sustainable management of the water resources of the basin. It defines strategic actions to ensure and enhance water security, considering the long-term socio-economic and environmental demand on the water resources of the basin. The Lesotho-to-Botswana Water-Transfer scheme (L-BWT) was not included in the IWRM plan as one of the strategic actions.

The south-eastern urban complex of Botswana, centred on the capital city Gaborone, has experienced rapidly increased growth over the past few decades and this is expected to continue. Despite efforts to alleviate the water-shortage challenges, indications are that the water sources will not meet the demand by early 2025.

The governments of Botswana, Lesotho and South Africa signed a memorandum of agreement to undertake a reconnaissance study of the L-BWT.  The scheme will also supply consumers in Lesotho and South Africa along the way.

The project team is led by WRP Consulting Engineers, which was instrumental in drafting the 2014 IWRM plan. It will investigate the feasibility of supplying water to Gaborone from a more sustainable source - a dam in Lesotho - and transferring the water to Gaborone via a 600-700km pipeline.