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Global Ideas

Lesotho, South Africa team up to tackle water woes

Lesotho transports water to neighboring South Africa, generating energy and income along the way.

Project goal: Supplying water to dry regions in South African and generating clean energy through hydropower

Project size: More than 40 million liters of water each day for South Africa and 72 megawatts of electricity for Lesotho over a year

Project volume:So far the Lesotho Highland Water Project has involved almost two billion Euros

Lesotho may be small, but it boasts a complex system of embankments and underwater pipelines. The kingdom supplies water to the next-door South African province of Gauteng, home to more than 12 million people. At the same time, the Lesotho water system includes hydroelectricity plants that generate enough power to supply most of the kingdom’s energy needs.

Now, the “Lesotho Highland Water Project” is being expanded with a view to the future. The construction of new dams will help pool more water while a new, larger hydroelectric plant is expected to address the growing demand for energy. The project is crucial for the people of Gauteng and for the densely-populated metropolis of Johannesburg, the largest city in the world not connected to a river. With rising temperatures and droughts taking their toll, the region is growing increasingly dry – especially because the gold mining industry there has strained the available groundwater resources. Gauteng’s water infrastructure is also in bad shape with leaky pipes rampant.

The German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) is now helping to renovate the water network in an initial community. The aim is to help conserve water and energy. That is especially important because large amounts of energy are needed to pump water from the lowest dam in the Vaal river up to Gauteng’s plateau.

The Lesotho Highland Water Project not only serves as a crucial source of clean energy for Lesotho, but it’s also the poor country’s largest money-maker, providing funds for important infrastructure projects. Over in South Africa, the project is helping the province of Guateng to adapt to climate change and ensure water supplies for millions of residents.

A film by Jürgen Schneider

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