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King Letsie III of Lesotho urges stronger ties among world leaders to raise water investments for Africa

As SADC convenes a multi-stakeholder dialogue on Water, Energy and Food Security in Lesotho.

His Majesty King Letsie III of Lesotho, was among several high-level world leaders that graced the just-ended World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden where he made a clarion call for delegates to make the issue of water and water investments a top priority for the world’s development agenda.

The King’s presence at the international gathering of water resource management, development experts, technocrats, and captains of industry, was key, considering the prowess of the small mountainous Kingdom in the provision of water to a number of countries in Southern African through the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP).

The LHWP involves an intricate network of tunnels and dams which divert water from the mountains of Lesotho to its neighbours South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana, earning the Kingdom financial resources and hydroelectricity for its citizens.

In a recorded video message to the High-Level Panel (HLP) meeting of Conveners for the mobilisation of water investments in Africa, held at a side event in the Swedish Capital, King Letsie II said that it is critical for world leaders to make a concerted effort to preserve water and mitigate all factors be they man-made, natural, or otherwise, that jeopardise water and its sources.

Said the King; “I would like to make a plea to the international community, philanthropic establishments, developments organizations and all participants who have the means, to seize the opportunity presented by the High-Level Panel on Water Investment in Africa to support efforts that elevate the issue of water and investments in water to the highest level possible of the world’s development agenda.”

The HLP meetings – August 29 to 31 – were organised by the Global Water Partnership Southern Africa (GWPSAF) and its umbrella body GWP Organisation headquartered in Sweden, in partnership with other stakeholders. Discussions brought together development partners to discuss the road mark of the High-Level Panel for Water Investments for Africa, comprised of current and former Heads of State, designated to mobilise $30 billion dollars a year by 2030.

With only eight years to go before the deadline to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, (SDGs) the momentum has picked up with the international community working hard to galvanise public and private resources, policy shift and partnerships, to enable the attainment of the Goals. Ensuring adequate resources to achieve SDG 6 on universal access to clean water and decent sanitation was top on the agenda in Stockholm. Key milestones were shared, on developing the Investment Action Plan and potential pathways for mobilising US$30 billion a year by 2030 to close the water security and sanitation investment gap in Africa.

In commending the work of the High-Level Panel, King Letsie III said: “It is our hope that the HLP will provide the necessary political leadership and impetus to create a well-coordinated plan of action, creative partnerships, and secure financing mechanisms for restoration of eco-systems. We would therefore like to make a clarion call to development partners to pledge and fulfil their pledges to increase the level of investments for water resources in Africa”.

King Letsie III said that the ever-deteriorating state of water sources in Africa calls for urgent and immediate action from all stakeholders, adding that to remedy this situation, water investment gap estimates between $11-$19 billion a year has to be reduced or even eliminated, meaning that all partners have to come forward to erase this gap to ensure that the initiative to mobilise $30 billion a year becomes success,

He made reference to the challenges of land degradation and soil erosion as well as drying up of water catchments areas in his Kingdom, that pose a serious threat to the security of clean and fresh water to Lesotho and other southern African countries which benefit from the 40% water supply run off from the Kingdom.

In Stockholm, the High-Level Panel Technical Expert Advisory Group held its first meeting on 28 August 2022 prior to its being formally inaugurated two days later on 30 August. The Expert Advisory Group meeting was a unique opportunity to formally establish coordination roles and responsibilities for invited experts to collectively join African Heads of States and global leaders in transforming the investment outlook for water security and sanitation in Africa.

Led by the African Union Commission, AUDA-NEPAD, and Sherpas of the Panel Co Chairs which include Senegal, Namibia, Netherlands, and the Alternate Co-Chair former President of Tanzania H.E. Jakaya Kikwete, the Road Map Vision towards the UN 2023 Water Conference was presented to delegates at the meeting.

This week, the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) will hold a three-day multi stakeholder Dialogue in the capital of Lesotho, Maseru, aimed at bolstering capacities for water energy, food security and eco-systems resilience and sustainability in the SADC region.

The Dialogue will deal with topics such as enhancing productive resources from water, energy, and food (WEF) security; share lessons learned in the WEF Nexus approach; and the key issue of mobilising resources and entrepreneurial capacities to bolster WEF and eco-systems in the SADC region.