A team of water experts from the United Nations, which are in Lesotho, have called on the country to prioritise water, sanitation and hygiene. Although the country has plenty of water, access remains a problem. Studies show that even where water is accessible, many struggle to pay for it and are often disconnected.
The team concluded a two week fact-finding mission visiting six out of the ten districts in the Mountain Kingdom.
UN Human Rights’ Water expert Professor Low Heller says Lesotho water and sewage company WASCO, is not protecting poor populations.
“There are issues related to access to water and sanitation in towns, and I am discussing some matters related to tariffs with WASCO, on which they are not protecting the poorest populations.
Internationally, the disconnections due to inability to pay, is considered a human rights violation so it is important that the government gradually abolishes this practice of disconnection due to inability to pay and find another way for access to the very poor populations.”
The Metolong dam was designed to provide a lowlands water scheme, concentrating mainly on urban areas. It by-passes small villages, but residents say some of the pipes are diverted.
“It was painful, you can imagine all the villages in the vicinity of Metelong dam which could not be supplied with water yet they own the same water sources.”
The villagers intercepted the water and designed make-shift taps so they could access it.
“This is probably the third time now this tap is being installed, Basotho simply could not afford to pay for that public water scheme tariffs.”
While construction of large-scale dams remains an economic fabric of Lesotho’s fiscus, Professor Heller insists that people’s rights in the vicinity should be prioritised.
“I could see a bucket of water and the water is absolutely brownish and very unsafe for drinking; and the person told me ‘why water is not here. I know that water is going to another country and we are not being provided,’ so I think it is an unjust situation.”
Making water and sanitation a human right for Basotho would mean better quality water which was freely available to those who cannot pay for it.