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Lesotho Highlands Water Project

Published: 11th Apr, 2024


The main water supply to South Africa’s economic hub, greater Johannesburg in the Gauteng province, and to the country’s breadbasket in the Free State, is scheduled to be cut off for six months.

What is the Lesotho Highlands Water Project?

  • It is a large-scale water supply scheme in which water is diverted from the highlands of Lesotho to South Africa’s Free State and the greater Johannesburg area.
  • The project is designed to transfer over 1.27 billion cubic metres of water annually from Lesotho to South Africa, providing a vital water supply to the Gauteng region’s cities and industries.
  • Launched in 1998, it was developed in partnership with the governments of Lesotho and South Africa. It involved the construction of a series of dams, reservoirs and tunnels throughout Lesotho.
  • These all deliver water to the Vaal River system in South Africa.
  • The Lesotho Highlands Water Project is a lifeline to millions of South Africans. For example, it:
    • satisfies 60% of Gauteng’s water demand
    • supplies the irrigation water for commercial farms
    • supplies water to regions with irregular rainfall patterns and frequent drought
    • plays a role in public health by delivering clean water to millions of people
    • contributes to environmental conservation
  • The influx of fresh water helps reduce the acidity of the Vaal River reservoir, which has long been pollutedby industrial activity, sewage and gold mines.

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