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Lesotho: Tackling water insecurity in a changing climate

This policy brief summarizes the findings of an assessment that evaluated the performance of Lesotho’s water management system and explored adaptation strategies across a range of potential future climate conditions.

Marion Davis, Annette Huber-Lee, Stephanie Galaitsi / Published on 13 September 2016

Huber-Lee, A., M. Wishart, I. Emenanjo, S. Galaitsi and M. Davis (2016). Lesotho: Tackling water insecurity in a changing climate. SEI and World Bank policy brief.

Water is one of Lesotho’s most valuable resources, so an increasingly unpredictable and variable climate has profound implications for the structure of the economy and future development. The water sector contributes about 8–10% to overall GDP, with the Lesotho Highlands Water Project alone having facilitated investments of more than US$3 billion and providing sustained revenues that amount to nearly 800 million USD since 1996.

Lesotho already experiences large natural climatic variations, and the lack of adequate infrastructure exposes the economy and households to a high degree of water insecurity. Future climate change is likely to have important implications for water security. All the climate models indicate that average mean surface temperatures will rise, but precipitation projections vary greatly.

Ensuring the continued sustainable development of Lesotho’s water resources requires an integrated and strategic long-term approach to water resources and climate change adaptation. Integration of targeted investments, such as those envisaged under the Lowlands Bulk Water Supply Scheme, can increase water security, improve irrigation potential and enhance food security, while sustaining hydropower production without significant reductions in the reliability of water transfers.

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