Lesotho is a small, mountainous country surrounded by South Africa. In recent years, the country has become a prominent player in regional water trading. Exports to South Africa and surrounding nations have provided a major revenue source, accounting for 10% of the country’s GDP. Despite this, clean drinking water is hard to access due to high levels of poverty. A lack of infrastructure and water purification in Lesotho means that the country’s most impoverished people struggle to obtain this critical resource. However, three companies, WASCO, Pure Aqua and World Vision, are working to solve this problem.
Water Purification in Lesotho
The United Nations reports that “In Lesotho, water, sanitation and hygiene lie at the center of the poverty cycle in which almost two out of every three Basotho live in poverty.” According to the World Bank, water is linked to the development of a country and is connected to almost every Sustainable Development Goal. Access to water is imperative for “protecting human health during infectious disease outbreaks” such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Explaining how water supports economic growth, the World Bank states that “water is a vital factor of production, so diminishing water supplies translates into slower growth.” As such, increasing access to clean and safe water directly correlates with global poverty reduction.
Hence, improving water purification in Lesotho as well as distribution and infrastructure are key to improving living conditions and fighting widespread poverty.
WASCO: Clean Water
Lesotho’s government is invested in improving water access for its citizens. In the year 1992, the Lesotho government created the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA). WASA’s goal was to provide water access and sewer services to the cities of Lesotho.
In 2010, the Water and Sewerage Company (WASCO) replaced WASA. According to the Lesotho Ministry of Water, WASCO provides safe drinking water to 300,000 city dwellers. Additionally, almost 50% of city locations have water connections manned by WASCO and another 13% connect to sewer systems maintained by WASCO.
WASCO’s work has primarily targeted urban centers. However, a large portion of Lesotho’s population lives in rural locations where infrastructure is nearly nonexistent. Moreover, “80% of the rural population” obtains their drinking water from unfiltered and unprotected water sources in these rural regions. The next step for WASCO is improving water purification in Lesotho’s countryside. Providing clean water access to those living in rural Lesotho will help end the ongoing poverty cycle in the nation.
Pure Aqua: Filtration and Cleaning Systems
Given that Lesotho’s water supply is larger than the country’s demand, providing water to those in poverty, especially in rural areas, is a matter of economically affordable innovation. Pure Aqua is a company headquartered in California that aims to provide “efficient, high-grade water treatment solutions for people and places all over the world.”
The company has more than 20 years of experience providing water purification systems to nations around the world. The company uses different technologies depending on the water source in a local area. For example, Pure Aqua treats surface water with its Ultrafiltration System, while brackish groundwater can be put through reverse osmosis or UV treatment, among other methods.
World Vision: Water for Children and Families
Lastly, World Vision is a global humanitarian organization that works to improve the welfare of children. One of World Vision’s main goals is providing access to clean water and improving sanitation standards. World Vision seeks to improve water purification in Lesotho by drilling new boreholes where people can draw water from the ground. These untapped sources are likely to be cleaner than surface water or previously available groundwater.
On top of this, World Vision performs repairs, upgrades and maintenance to existing infrastructure. With this support, the organization also aims to provide hygiene and sanitation education to children and adults. As a result of its work, World Vision reports that, in Lesotho, “33,874 people [have] gained access to clean water sources” and “18,780 people are benefiting from improved sanitation facilities.”
The Future of Water Purification in Lesotho
Fortunately, these technologies and approaches to water purification show that it is possible to improve the lives of those living in poverty with relatively inexpensive filtration systems, repairs, education programs and more. Overall, this work is certainly making a difference in Lesotho while upholding the fundamental human right to water.
– Julia Welp