Credit: B Dodane

Cooperation in International Waters in Africa: Annual Report FY2018

Results by Project or Basin – Orange-Senqu


Effective regional and national institutions enable riparian states to manage shared risks and harness net benefits of cooperation.

OUTCOME AREA 1. Strengthened, adaptable, institutional structures enable robust water management amidst growing uncertainty due to climate change and competing demands for water.

Options Analysis: The Lesotho Highlands-Botswana Water Transfer Study considered options to carry forward this regional investment for water security in southern Africa. Three of the riparian states in the Orange-Senqu River Basin – Botswana, Lesotho, and South Africa – established a Joint Study Management Committee to oversee the recently completed study in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding between the three countries. This strategic analysis covered technical, institutional, and financial options to implement and operate such a transfer. The studies have been completed and technical options have been endorsed by the ministers from the riparian states. The African Development Bank is now financing pre-feasibility studies for the scheme under the auspices of the Orange-Senqu River Commission (ORASECOM).

Financing Options: A range of possible institutional options for the regional development of water resources have been developed in parallel to inform options that could be used to carry forward and develop the project. These are related to possible financial mechanisms linked to the various institutional models to stimulate debate and discussion among the riparian states around options for development. These transboundary models of infrastructure development are based on a typology of six models that are based on different ownership and revenue streams. An accompanying financial model has been developed to pilot the application of the models within the context of the proposed options for the transfer of water from the Highlands of Lesotho to Botswana. CRIDF and SIWI are now working with ORASECOM to support follow-up work.


Regionally beneficial investments generate socioeconomic benefits and gender-inclusive poverty reduction.

OUTCOME AREA 1. Improved technical and resource mobilization capacity enhances investment quality and advances preparation of regional projects.

Technical Assessment: The Lesotho Highlands-Botswana Water Transfer Study was completed in 2017, confirming the viability of a range of technical options for transferring water from the Highlands of Lesotho to Botswana and South Africa. The analysis considered the extent and timing of transferring water from the Highlands of Lesotho, the institutional framework under which such a project could be implemented, and possible financial mechanisms for storage and transfer of water. The reconnaissance study assessed engineering, social, environmental, economic, and financial information related to the water transfer. The results were presented at a meeting of the Joint Steering Management Committee and Senior Officials in Gaborone in October 2015 and endorsed by the relevant ministers in November 2016. The three parties resolved to proceed to the subsequent phases of the study as envisaged in the original Memorandum of Understanding.

A parallel World Bank-executed activity around the development of a Water Evaluation and Planning (WEAP) model for Lesotho was used to simulate major hydrologic flows, represent demographic trends, and evaluate the effects of water management responses including the proposed transfer, and confirmed the availability of sufficient water under a range of future climate scenarios. By evaluating the regional trade-offs of potential water transfers in the region, the study has helped delineate options for future investments, informed a range of institutional options among the countries, and highlighted a number of financing considerations, thereby diminishing risks and improving opportunities for the best shared return on investments.

The Orange-Senqu River Commission (ORASECOM) is supervising the next phase which will produce formal pre-feasibility studies for the scheme as well as a feasibility study for the dam in Lesotho, which would be the source of the water for the transfer. These studies are being financed by the African Development Bank through the African Water Facility and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility. The Climate Resilient Infrastructure Development Facility (CRIDF) and the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) are working on complementary institutional studies.