The following is an executive summary of a report by the World Bank on the implications of climate change on water security in Lesotho.
Abundant water, along with high altitude and geographic proximity to major demand centers in southern Africa, is one of Lesotho’s most valuable renewable and sustainable natural assets. In a country characterised by high levels of poverty and income inequality, water contributes roughly 10 percent to overall gross domestic product (GDP). A large portion of this benefit comes from revenues associated with the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP), a multistage infrastructure project that enables the transfer of water from the water-rich highlands of Lesotho to the economic engine of the African continent in Gauteng and contributes to the development of hydropower resources in Lesotho. Balancing the opportunities afforded by the LHWP with the need to enhance national water resources infrastructure and increase water security against potential future vulnerabilities is central to the government’s long-term vision for development and to sustainable economic growth.
This analysis conducts the first systematic examination of the vulnerabilities of Lesotho’s water management system to climate change by exploring a set of adaptation strategies across a wide range of potential future conditions.
Given the importance of water to long-term sustainable economic growth in Lesotho, extensive quantitative and qualitative analyses have been used to identify strategies that demonstrate successful system performance over a wide range of plausible future scenarios. The analysis looks specifically at the need to ensure continued development of water resources within Lesotho to increase security around the nexus of water, food, and energy along with sustained economic development, while also ensuring that Lesotho is able to meet its obligations under the Treaty with South Africa governing the LHWP.
The analysis does not prescribe a water management strategy for Lesotho based on a single prediction of the future, but quantifies the range of possible future conditions to empower stakeholders and demonstrate the benefits that can be realized over a broad range of possible future outcomes.
Developing a System Model for Lesotho.
The analysis is based on a water resource decision support model developed specifically for Lesotho. The Water Evaluation and Planning (WEAP) model couples climate, hydrologic, and water management systems to facilitate an evaluation of the uncertainties and strategies of impacts on specified management metrics. The WEAP model has been developed over the past 20 years by the Stockholm Environment Institute working in partnership with a number of agencies (including the World Bank) and has been applied in numerous research and consultative projects around the world. The WEAP model is designed to evaluate the performance of water supply reliability for different water use sectors (such as domestic and industrial water users, rainfed and irrigated agriculture, hydropower, instream flow requirements, and water transfers to South Africa) across a range of future climate conditions. The model lays a foundation for a national system to monitor the development and use of water resources in Lesotho. The Lesotho WEAP model was developed through an iterative series of workshops with key stakeholders from various governmental departments.
The first step in the development process focused on developing the rainfall and runoff routines and calibrating these to observed historical streamflow time series. The second step focused on adding representations of the existing and planned water management infrastructure to the model to facilitate scenario planning.
Assessing Climate Change Scenarios for Lesotho.
The WEAP model was used to simulate the historic climate based on data from the national government archives and global datasets available in the public domain. These included 121 downscaled Global Climate Model (GCM) projections of future climate over two possible water demand scenarios, for a total of 244 scenarios up to the year 2050. This large collection of future climate projections is based on a bias-correction and spatial downscaling (BCSD) procedure that applies a four-step process to generate monthly climate on a 0.5° grid for the world’s landmasses. The grid cells corresponding to the river basins of Lesotho are extracted, and an averaging procedure estimates average monthly precipitation and temperature for each catchment in the WEAP model.
Robust Decision Making.
Although WEAP is a powerful modeling tool, models applied in isolation do not necessarily provide guidance to support decision making and policy setting. To play this role, models must be embedded within decision analytic frameworks that guide the development of experimental designs and the evaluation of the results that the models produce.
In this study, a robust decision-making (RDM) framework was applied to frame the analysis and help interpret the results. The analysis examines which strategies demonstrate robust performance across the range of future scenarios to show positive performance over a broad range of circumstances.
Because individual future scenarios cannot be assigned a probability of occurrence, the use of broadly applicable robust strategies reframes the management dilemma for climate adaptation.
Demonstrations of robustness can empower decision makers to implement interventions even under highly uncertain conditions.
The project worked with national experts, stakeholders, and policy makers in an iterative process to identify key uncertainties that could compromise
Lesotho’s water management strategy. These include climate change, domestic and industrial water demand, agricultural production, and changes in water transfer opportunities. The stakeholder process was also used to identify a range of potential adaptation strategies. These included new infrastructure, such as the Lowlands Bulk Water Supply Scheme, which could provide additional water to communities across the lowlands of Lesotho, the allocation of water for further development of irrigated agriculture, and development of future phases of the LHWP. To evaluate the performance of these strategies, stakeholders specified the key management metrics of the water supply system, including the reliability of water for agriculture, domestic and industrial demands for Lesotho, as well as water transfers.
Recognizing that adapting to future challenges, including climate change, is a long-term process, the approach to model development and application of the analytical tools focused on capacity enhancement for resource managers. The aim was to provide the necessary background and experience needed to use the models and analytical tools in support of forward-looking decision-making processes. A number of training sessions were held with managers and professionals to (1) improve the development and use of the WEAP-based water management model; (2) understand and apply the statistical programming language, R, for climate data analysis; and (3) apply the interactive visualization software, Tableau. Proficiency in WEAP will allow planners to continue to use, improve, and interrogate the WEAP model, while the R language is crucial for climate analyses and GCM processing for future climate investigations. The Tableau software facilitates the interpretation of large quantities of results that often characterize climate change investigations. Opportunities remain in Lesotho for further capacity building in these tools to examine and evaluate climate projects for use in the WEAP model. This experience in Lesotho suggests also that similar capacity building efforts could be extended to other countries and water management authorities within the Southern African Development Community as a means of supporting vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning.
Climate Change Projections.
Key vulnerabilities within the current system have been identified with respect to water supply for domestic and industrial water demand, irrigation, and water transfers. A summary of projected future surface air temperatures from the ensemble of GCM datasets analyzed for this study suggests warmer conditions for the period from 2030 through 2050. The projected increase in air temperature derived from the GCMs ranges from a low of about 0.8°C to a high of 2.9°C above the historical average of 12.7°C. In contrast, there was no strong consensus among the climate models for projections of future precipitation for the same period.
Some GCM-modeled future projections, on average, are wetter while others are drier. For the twenty-year period, more future projections are drier (64 GCM projections) on average than wetter (57 GCM projections). The range of projected future precipitation includes both an increase and decrease of about 20 percent or 160 mm annually. The historical annual average precipitation over Lesotho is about 760 mm. These climate projections for precipitation and temperature are shown in figure ES.1.
Climate change scenarios suggest diminishing capacity to meet the future growth in demand for domestic and industrial water in Lesotho. Over half of the future scenarios evaluated predict unmet domestic demand of more than 20 percent for the 2041–50 period. The analysis shows that development of the Lesotho Lowlands Water Supply Scheme (LLWSS) would reduce the vulnerability to unmet demand and improve overall water security for the continued economic development of the industrial sector, meet increasing domestic demand, and provide for further development of irrigation potential. The Metolong Dam and Water Supply Program, the first project to be implemented under LLWSS, has increased security of supply to Maseru, Teyateyanang, Roma, Morija, and other surrounding towns. The study recommends the implementation of further phases of LLWSS as an adaptive measure to mitigate the potential effects of future climate change and current variability.
Lesotho’s agricultural sector is predominantly rainfed, thus susceptible to climatic variations and vulnerable to projected increases in climate variability.
Rising temperatures will increase the amount of water required for crops, exacerbating water stress during dry periods. Without irrigation schemes, any shift toward drier precipitation patterns could reduce agricultural yields. Coupled with projected increases in population, Lesotho’s dependence on food imports will likely increase. Developing additional irrigation capacity and expanding existing schemes could increase food security. The increased allocation of water required to expand from the 1,000 hectares currently under irrigation to the 12,000 hectares that have been identified as potentially irrigable could be met without reducing transfers of water to South Africa under all future scenarios.
Water transfers to South Africa will be increasingly vulnerable in the coming decades (see figure ES.2). Specifically, the analysis finds that in 10 percent of the climate scenarios (indicated as the points outside the shaded area in figure ES.2) the average amount of unmet water transfers increases from about 500 million m3 in the 2016–20 period to almost 2 billion m3 in the 2046–50 period in the absence of implementation of the additional phases envisaged. Delays in implementing the LHWP could undermine water security in South Africa and limit the economic and development benefits that accrue to Lesotho. The analysis then finds that various adaptation strategies, including full construction of the proposed Polihali Dam and the full buildout of all five phases of the LHWP infrastructure, both increase the amount of transfers to South Africa and increase their reliability over a wider range of climatic conditions (see figure ES.3). For each of the strategies evaluated, the analysis identifies the key climate conditions for which the deliveries to
South Africa (and other performance metrics) are unacceptable. For example, the analysis confirmed that the system with the Polihali dam is highly reliable under most climate futures and that deficits occur only in the very driest of futures (16 of the 122 cases, in which precipitation is less than 725 millimeters per year).
The development of the water transfer and hydropower components under Phase 2 of the LHWP are projected to bring additional benefits to Lesotho.
In addition to increasing the potential delivery of water in response to growing demand in South Africa, the projects are expected to contribute about
11,000 jobs annually during the construction period. Approximately half of these jobs will be in construction, with the rest in such indirect activities as agriculture, transport, and services. The majority of these jobs will be temporary and so the challenge will be to transfer skills and leverage income for sustainable employment after major civil works are completed.
However, improved road access and reduced travel times and transport costs will have substantial longer-term benefits through better access to and from agricultural markets and will boost tourism and other local development opportunities.
Implementing the lowlands scheme and expanding irrigation through the diversion of a portion of water captured by the LHWP would not jeopardize the reliability of the water transfers to South Africa. The analysis identified both a Plus Polihali, Lowlands, and Irrigation strategy and a Plus All Highlands,
Lowlands, and Irrigation strategy. These two strategies both dramatically increase the amount of water exported to South Africa and divert enough water to the lowlands to significantly reduce the projected shortages and increase food production in future decades (see figure ES.4).
The assessment indicates that transfers to both South Africa and Botswana could be reliably met under future scenarios in which the climate is about the same, or wetter, than as shown by historical trends. Under drier climates, there would be a tradeoff between meeting the transfer targets for Botswana and South Africa. The percentage impact on the transfers to South Africa would be much lower than that on the transfers to Botswana. When the transfers to Botswana are prioritized, they are very reliable, with shortfalls in only
4 of the 122 climates examined. With the development of the Polihali Dam, the South African transfer targets can be met under most, but not all, plausible future climates.
Conclusions and Recommended Next Steps.
The analysis outlines a range of possible scenarios for Lesotho based on a comprehensive assessment of the potential changes associated with climate change from 2030–50. The analysis does not prescribe a water management strategy for Lesotho based on a single prediction of the future, but quantifies the range of possible future conditions as characterized by the latest GCM results and stakeholder assessments of internal demand predictions and future water transfers. This quantification empowers stakeholders to act with more confidence by demonstrating that the implementation strategies can provide benefits to water resources management and provision over a broad range of scenarios.
Implementing a series of the adaptive interventions identified can improve overall system performance across the range of future scenarios and enhance the overall water security for Lesotho. Specifically the analysis draws the following conclusions:
- Climate change will create important determinants for the future, long-term sustainable macroeconomic development of Lesotho. All future scenarios consistently demonstrate an increase in temperature, while changes in patterns of precipitation vary among the different scenarios. This will have implications for long-term domestic and industrial water security, patterns of agricultural production, and opportunities afforded through the further development of water transfer infrastructure.
- • Domestic and industrial water security is highly vulnerable under historical and current climate conditions, as well as under the full range of climate future scenarios. These results are driven by the current configuration of the water management infrastructure system, which does not provide interconnections between the developed water sources used to support the LHWP with domestic and industrial demand in the lowlands.
- Agriculture production will remain vulnerable to inter-annual variability over the coming decades, particularly with continued reliance on rainfed agriculture. Irrigation schemes can be supported without significant reductions in transfer reliability to South Africa. Investing in monitoring and enhanced data acquisition would help improve future adaptive capacity and on-farm responses to changes in climate patterns and levels of variability.
- The LHWP will continue to reliably meet transfers to South Africa over the coming decades unless climate conditions are about 5 percent drier or more than the historical record. Construction of the Polihali Dam, and associated infrastructure, will increase transfers and reliability. Build-out of the full LHWP increases the transfer capacity and can also support the development of water supply schemes in the lowlands along with irrigation development. Adapting to future challenges, including climate change, is a long-term process that affords time and opportunity for strategically positioned and driven enhancements. The analysis clearly points to a number of areas for further development.
Improve Data Monitoring and Management.
Data limitations will undermine Lesotho’s ability to monitor predictions and respond to changes in climate.
Design and implementation of an optimized hydrometeorological network would enhance the capacity of Lesotho to prepare for and respond to potential future changes in climate. Detailed agricultural data and information about the economic uses and value of water were not readily available.
These limitations led to a more cursory evaluation of the agricultural sector and the omission of a more formal economic analysis.
Continued Capacity Enhancement.
The tools and analysis required to support the planning for robust climate adaptation necessitate sustained capacity development. The nature of the analysis here provided support to the first iteration of an interactive participatory process. The time required to develop the tools and capacity needed provides a foundation, but should be further developed and integrated into government planning processes.
The climate modeling and RDM framework illustrates important decision pathways for future development in Lesotho. The cost and valuation data required to support a cost-benefit analysis across the wide range of climate conditions would also support an important economic evaluation of different adaptation options. These data could be incorporated into the current RDM analysis to evaluate the economic robustness of the different adaptations.
Extending Adaptation Analysis.
Using the existing data and tools to undertake additional iterations of the vulnerability and adaptation analysis up to the end of the 21st century would increase the scientific rigor. The analysis would enhance the capacity to evaluate climate risks and weigh different tradeoffs. Further adaptation of the WEAP model to a shorter time step, such as one day, would enable the evaluation of operational strategies for water allocation among competing uses, such as water deliveries and timing for domestic and agricultural use, as well as hydropower generation. Extending the geographic scope of the model to demand areas in South Africa that rely on water imported from Lesotho would also produce a more complete understanding of vulnerabilities and tradeoffs.
Lowlands Water Supply Scheme.
Continued development of the LLWSS is critical to improving the reliability and resilience of the domestic and industrial sectors. Exploring interconnections between the developed water resources through LHWP and linking these to address domestic and industrial demands in the lowlands could help improve the resilience of the existing system. Such integrated planning could also help to manage the associated political economy between perceived national benefits and the development of water transfer projects.
Agricultural Sector Assessment.
The results highlight the need for a more thorough assessment of the risks and opportunities for Lesotho’s agricultural sector of potential changes in climate. An evaluation of the implications of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations, together with rising temperatures and water stress on agricultural productivity, should be further elaborated. A better understanding of these dynamics could help develop agricultural strategies suited for the unique climatic changes underway in Lesotho. This information could help direct a program to incorporate the traits of such plans into desirable crop production cultivars to improve yield.
Using a deliberate, inclusive process with Lesotho managers, this project incorporated Lesotho’s most pressing needs to demonstrate the vulnerabilities, challenges, and opportunities in the Lesotho water management system.
With a new quantification of options for improving system robustness, managers can move forward with plans that are most aptly positioned to support their objectives.
MP defies party, backs opposition
MOHLOMINYANE Tota, the only MP for the United for Change (UFC), has defied the party’s order to stop voting with the opposition in parliament.
Tota, the UFC’s deputy leader, told thepost this week that he will vote, guided by his own conscience, and not the party’s instructions.
His defiance comes after the party publicly chastised him for voting with the opposition in parliament.
A fightnight ago, Tota angered his party when he sided with the opposition to vote against the government’s motion to continue discussing the reforms’ Omnibus Bill despite that it was being challenged in the Constitutional Court.
The government however won with 57 votes against the opposition’s 50.
The UFC issued a statement reprimanding Tota for defying its decision to always vote with the government.
But Tota told thepost this week that he was unfazed by the party’s warning.
“I will continue to vote with the opposition where need be, and I will also vote with the government where need be,” Tota said.
He said he respects the party’s position but “I also have a right to follow my conscience”.
This, he added, is because “it is not mandatory for an MP to toe the party line even when his conscience does not allow it”.
He said whether he will vote with the government or the opposition will depend “on the issue on the table”.
He said his conscience would not allow him to vote with the government on the Omnibus Bill motion.
“It was wrong,” Tota said.
“I will do the same again given another chance.”
Tota’s response comes three days after the UFC issued a statement distancing itself from his stance in parliament.
The party said its national executive committee had an urgent meeting over the weekend to discuss Tota’s behaviour.
It said its position is to always support Prime Minister Sam Matekane’s coalition government.
“‘The issue has caused a lot of confusion in the party and among Basotho at large,” the statement reads.
The party also said Tota did not bother to inform the national executive committee about his decision so that he could get a new mandate.
“He did not even inform the committee before voting,” the statement reads.
“The national executive committee held an intensive meeting with Tota about the matter because the purpose of the party is to support the government,” it reads.
The UFC said where the government goes wrong “the party will continue to confront it with peace and not with a fight” (sic).
“We have confidence in the current government because it was voted in by Basotho.”
The UFC’s statement makes it clear that the party “will not support anything against the government”.
Inside plot to oust Matekane
THE plot to topple Prime Minister Sam Matekane thickened this week amid allegations of brazen vote-buying ahead of the opposition’s planned vote of no-confidence.
The opposition is said to be ready to push out Matekane when parliament reopens sometime in September. They accuse Matekane’s government of incompetence, nepotism, corruption and using the security forces to harass opposition MPs.
But as the lobbying and touting of MPs reaches fever pitch, there are now allegations of each side using bribes to secure votes crucial in the vote to remove the government.
Democratic Congress leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu, this week accused the government of bribing its MPs to defeat the motion against Matekane.
Mokhothu, who made the allegations at the opposition’s press conference yesterdday, did not give further details or names of those bribed and those bribing.
But on Monday, the Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) MP, Puseletso Lejone, told thepost that Mokhothu offered him a M2.2 million bribe to support the opposition’s motion to upend the government.
Lejone said Mokhothu made the offer at a secret meeting, attended by almost all opposition leaders on August 14, at Monyane Moleleki’s house in Qoatsaneng.
The Thaba Moea MP said the leaders claimed that 60 MPs were supporting the motion against Matekane and wanted his vote to make it 61.
“The money was to come directly from Mokhothu,” Lejone said.
“They asked me to provide them with my bank account so that they could transfer the money.”
Mokhuthu denied the allegations, saying he wondered if Lejone “was smoking socks”.
Lejone repeated the same allegations on the sidelines of yesterday’s press conference where Matekane assured Basotho that his government has enough numbers to fend off the opposition’s attempt to push him out.
He said apart from Moleleki and Mokhothu, other political leaders who attended the meeting were Lekhetho Rakuoane, Machesetsa Mofomobe, Nkaku Kabi, Professor Nqosa Mahao, Teboho Mojapela, Tefo Mapesela and Tšepo Lipholo.
He said the leaders gave him a document showing that six RFP MPs had pledged to support the vote of no confidence. Lejone however refused to name the RFP MPs, saying he still wants them to remain in the ruling party.
He said four MPs from parties in the RFP-led coalition had signed.
They are Mohlominyane Tota (UFC), Reverend Paul Masiu (BAENA), Mokoto Hloaele (AD) and Motlalepula Khahloe (MEC).
The deal, Lejone said, was that Mokhutho would become prime minister and be deputised by Dr Mahali Phamotse.
He said the RFP’s faction was going to be rewarded with 10 ministerial seats for their role in toppling Matekane.
Nearly all the political leaders mentioned by Lejone denied attending the meeting at Moleleki’s house.
“By the living God, I have never been in a meeting with that man (Lejone),” Mokhothu said, adding that Lejone’s allegations are “defamatory”.
Mahao said he last visited Moleleki’s house, which is up the road from his, 22 years ago. Mofomobe said Lejone is lying about the meeting because he wants to curry favour with Matekane, whom he had been criticising for months.
Mofomobe said all his meetings with Lejone were at the BNP Centre and their agenda was toppling Matekane.
“We were discussing his (Matekane) incapability to rule this country,” Mofomobe said.
Rakuoane and Mapesela said they have never been to Moleleki’s house.
So did Kabi who implied that Lejone could have smoked something intoxicating “to talk about a meeting that never happened”.
Lipholo, Rev Masiu, and Tota said they were not at that meeting while Moleleki said he had “no comment”.
Matekane abusing state agencies, says opposition
THE opposition has accused the government of weaponising security agencies to harass and intimidate their MPs.
The accusations come as the opposition plots to push a vote of no confidence against Prime Minister Sam Matekane when parliament re-opens in September.
Opposition leaders told a press conference yesterday that the government has resorted to using the army and the police against its MPs because it is afraid of the motion.
Democratic Congress (DC) leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu, said the security bosses have been willing tools for the government because their bosses are desperate for Matekane to renew their employment contracts.
He was talking about Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli, army boss Lieutenant General Mojalefa Letsoela and National Security Service (NSS) boss Pheello Ralenkoane.
“Employment contracts for the security agencies’ bosses are the ones causing these problems because the commanders end up working towards pleasing the government for their contract extension,” Mokhothu said.
He said the army has also started setting up roadblocks closer to parliament to search MPs. Mokhothu said the army searched Nkaku Kabi and Advocate Lebohang Maema KC at the parliament premises last week.
“The government is now bringing back the security agencies into party politics,” Mokhothu said.
“This was the first time the army entered the parliament premises to search members and other people there. It is an embarrassment.”
“The responsibility of our soldiers is to guard the borders and ensure security, not to enter politics or set up roadblocks on the parliament roads.”
“They are now running the country like a shop or a company.”
Basotho National Party leader, Machesetsa Mofomobe, alleged that Matekane had a meeting with the security bosses in Teya-teyaneng to discuss how they could use their institutions to clip the opposition’s wings.
“The LDF, LMPS and NSS boss’s contracts have expired, and now they are using the institution to get extensions,” Mofomobe said.
“The LDF and LMPS are doing this deliberately to protect the government.”
thepost could not independently verify this allegation.
Tefo Mapesela, the Basotho Progressive Party leader, said Matekane’s government is taking Lesotho back to 2014 when the army was wooed into politics.
He warned that officers who allow themselves to be used as pawns in political fights might find themselves in jail while their political handlers enjoy freedom.
He referred to Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli who has been in remand prison for seven years as he faces charges of murder, attempted murder and treason.
Mapesela however said the opposition will not be intimidated because it is their democratic right to bring a motion of no confidence against the government.
“When there is time to enter a motion of no confidence it is time, it is written in the law, there is nothing wrong there,” Mapesela said.
“I once launched a motion of no confidence in the previous parliament, but I was never arrested or threatened.”
“We do not owe Matekane anything. When the time has come he has to go. We will lobby others as it is not a crime.”
The Basotho Action Party’s Nqosa Mahao criticised the police for issuing a press statement with political undertones.
In a controversial statement last week, Commissioner Molibeli said the police were aware that some MPs were coercing their colleagues to support their plot to topple the government.
Molibeli also said they were aware that such MPs were surrounding themselves with armed groups.
“Police warn those perpetrating these acts to stop immediately to avoid action that could be taken to protect the country,” Molibeli said.
Matekane made the same allegations at his press conference yesterday.
Professor Mahao said the statement shows that the police have now been entangled in politics.
“Every time parties experience internal problems the leaders conspire with the security agencies,” he said.
“The opposition leaders are now being harassed because the government wants to stop them from exercising their rights.”
The opposition’s charge sheet against Matekane
- Filling of statutory positions despite the reforms aiming to change the system.
- Using security agencies to deter MPs from ousting Matekane.
- Job losses.
- Lack of job creation.
- Failure to fulfil campaign promises.
- Protecting mining companies’ interests at the expense of Basotho.
- Incompetence and lack of communication skills.
- Arrest of MPs by the police.
- Cherry-picking reforms that insulate his government.
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