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Lesotho has through the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) joined the entire globe in celebrating the World Water Day that is marked annually on March 22.

In Lesotho, the day was marked on Monday where LHDA mounted a banner at the main entrance of their offices with a theme: ‘Networking two nations, Lesotho Highlands Water Project is a catalyst for sustainable development’.

As part of the celebrations, LHDA sensitised the media about its readiness to implement Phase II of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) and also informed them of the successes, challenges and experiences of Phase I of the project.

Briefing the media on the celebration, LHDA- Acting Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Masilo Phakoe said water is a precious and essential resource that needs to be preserved and to be used wisely to meet people's needs.

Mr. Phakoe noted that water is used for various purposes like domestic and industrial use, however saying that it is scarce throughout the world hence countries should unite and share it to avoid conflicts.

He indicated that it is the world's concern to find ways in which water can be used peacefully without conflicts as reports show that for the past 60 years, where over 200 international water agreements had been signed, only 37 had reports of violence between and among concerned states.

He however indicated that LHDA is proud that in its 23 years of existence, Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) has successfully implemented water resources development and management agreements with no reports of conflict or violence.

Also speaking, the Lesotho Highlands Water Commission's (LHWC) Chief Delegate, Mr. Sixtus Tohlang announced that LHWP is ready to begin the construction of Phase II, which comprises construction of Polihali Dam at Tlokoeng in the Mokhotlong district.

Polihali Dam which will be 165 metres high will be constructed at the confluence of the Khubelu and Senqu rivers.

Mr. Tohlang said the construction work will begin in 2012 and will be completed around 2017, adding that water will begin to be delivered to the Republic of South Africa in 2018.

The project will cost about M7. 3 billion that will include infrastructure and compensation of estimated 13,000 families to be re-located from their areas.

He said, "Thousands of Basotho nationals will be recruited in the project,” further saying that unskilled work will be dedicated for villagers surrounding the project, while semi-skilled and skilled ones will be sourced from locally and outside the country.

Construction of Phase II follows a completion of feasibility studies, which started in October 2005 and were completed in May 2008.

Phase I of the LHWP comprised of the construction of Katse and Mohale dams as well as 'Muela hydro power station.

Source: LENA 23/03/2009

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