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Area: 5888268 km2
Brazil; Peru; Suriname; France; Colombia; Guyana; Bolivia; Venezuela; Ecuador
Santa Cruz; Manaus; La Paz
HydroBasin Level:
Baseline Water Stress:
Water Quality Stress:
Sanitation Access Stress:
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City & Country

Water-Related Challenge Costs

Total annual estimated cost to address all water-related challenges: $213,007,359.00

Share of total annual estimated cost to address each individual challenge (2015 $USD):

  • Access to Drinking Water: $108,302,595.00 - [51%]
  • Access to Sanitation: $51,769,510.00 - [24%]
  • Industrial Pollution: $7,207,766.00 - [3%]
  • Agricultural Pollution: $1,432,364.00 - [1%]
  • Water Scarcity: $8,793,897.00 - [4%]
  • Water Management: $35,501,226.00 - [17%]

For more about this data, see information on WRI’s Achieving Abundance dataset here.

Water Challenges

As reported by organizations on the Hub.

Local Water Resource Governance
Upstream Water Issues

Country Overview

1.1.1.WATER RESOURCES Lesotho is located entirely within the Orange River Basin. The major sub-basin river systems in Lesotho are: -The Senqu (Orange), which drains two-thirds of Lesotho (24,485km2), originates in the extreme north of the country and leaves Lesotho near Quthing. In its catchment area, four large dams will be constructed under the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP). -The Makhaleng, with a catchment area of 2,911km2, originates in the vicinity of Mount Machache and leaves the country near Mohales Hoek. -The Mohokare (or Caladon) marks the border with South Africa and has a catchment area of 6,890km2. It springs from Mount Aux Sources, and leaves Lesotho near Wepener. All its major tributaries are located in Lesotho. The Lets’eng-la-Letsie wetland in the Quthing district was tentatively designated as a RAMSAR site by the government as part of its accession to the RAMSAR Convention. Lesotho’s natural renewable water resources are estimated at 5.23km3/yr, by far exceeding its water demand. Due to Lesotho’s commitments in the framework of the LHWP, its actual water resources will have decreased to 3.03km3/yr by 2020. Groundwater resources are estimated at 0.5km3/yr. Aquifer yields are low: of a sample of 818 wells, only 12 per cent yielded above 1l/s; average well depth was 65m in intrusive, sedimentary or volcanic rock, and 28m in alluvial rock. In 1995, about 3300 wells, equipped with hand-pumps, served the rural population in the lowlands, while 10 per cent of the urban municipal production originated from groundwater. Except for the area around Maputsoe (aquifer yield 50l/s), the potential for irrigation with groundwater in Lesotho is low. Major dams have been constructed in the framework of Phase I of LHWP: -Katse Dam in the Central Maluti Mountains was completed in May 1997. It is a concrete arch dam, 185m high, with 710m crest length and a storage capacity of 1.95km3. It impounds the Malibamatso River catchment (1,866km2); -Mohale Dam is a concrete faced rockfill dam, 145m high, with 540m crest length. It impounds the Senqunyane River catchment (938km2) and has a storage capacity of 0.86km3; -Muela Dam, a 55m high, 6 million m3 capacity dam acts as the tailpond of the Muela hydropower station. Phases II, III and IV of the project foresee the construction of Mashai Dam (3.3km3), Tsoelike Dam (2.22km3) and Ntoahae Dam.

1.1.2.WATER USE In 2000, the total water withdrawal was estimated at 43.6 million m3. Industry is the main water user with 22 million m3 (51 per cent) followed by municipalities with 21 million m3 (48 per cent) and agriculture with only 0.6 million m3 (1 per cent).

1.2.WATER QUALITY, ECOSYSTEMS AND HUMAN HEALTH Lesotho’s ecology is fragile because of the mountainous topography, the thin soil layer and the limited vegetative cover. Population pressure has forced settlement in marginal areas, resulting in overgrazing, severe soil erosion, soil exhaustion and desertification. Poor management practices and infrastructure improvements have had serious negative impacts on water resources, through the destruction of wetlands and their hydrological functions, changes in water regimes due to overgrazing and inappropriate cropping practices, and increased sediment production caused by mining and road construction. Water pollution by slurry from diamond mines is recognized as an environmental problem.

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Country Water Profile

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Organizations in Lesotho

HYDROC is an association of independent consultants, -scientists and -engineers, providing water-related services through a network of national and international experts. Our concept uses the synergies of our combined expertise for the successful implementation of a variety of projects. Our … Learn More

Our focus is on designing, manufacturing and supplying sanitation solutions that impact positively on the enviornment and thereby contributing to SDG 6 directly, but indirectly on SDG 3. Our toilet products are designed to operate without water for flushing, and … Learn More

A research and advocacy charity working for equitable and sustainable water resource management. We work with all water users to support objective understanding of opportunities and barriers to progress, and to galvanise action based on reliable evidence, transperancy and accountability. Learn More

Projects in Lesotho

In recent years, the WWF-Mondi WSP has broadened its focus convening stakeholders on a catchment basis to collectively better manage water resources, through an innovative social learning approach.This is critical, as isolated good practice by a single player cannot address … Learn More

WaterAid is an international NGO focused exclusively on ensuring equitable access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene education (WASH) for the world’s poorest communities. Formed in 1981 we have been working in water, sanitation and hygiene for over 30 years. … Learn More

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