NEXT week, Lesotho will join the rest of the world in celebrating World Water Day, after the United Nations General Assembly designated 22 March as World Water Day in 1993.
According to the United Nations, the day is commemorated annually to take action to tackle the global water crisis. It is a day to prepare for how water is managed in the future. With over 663 million people living without safe water supply close to home, we seriously need to address water issues now.
Working now to ensure that millions of people have access to clean water is the only way for countries to prepare for future sustainable water management.
World leaders need to know that with millions of people still spending countless hours queuing or trekking to distant water sources and coping with the health impacts of using contaminated water; the world will not be able to manage water in future.
Good water management starts now. It starts with preserving and protecting water catchment areas. It starts with ensuring that every single global inhabitant has access to clean and safe water.
With thousands of Basotho included in these millions of people having no access to clean water, all stakeholders need to step up efforts to ensure that all citizens have access to the precious liquid given that the country is blessed with abundant water.
We need not to be naive and think that we can achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) without getting a grip on proper and sustainable water management.
Lesotho needs to take a leaf from the former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon who said the world needs to take a bold action to address water inequality as part of efforts to realise the ambitious 2030 Agenda because without addressing water inequality, achieving the 2030 agenda is but a farfetched dream.
Making efforts to ensure all persons have access to clean and safe water is not sufficient. Lesotho, like any country, needs to invest quite a substantial amount of money in sustainable water management.
You see, it is not only about drinking safe and clean water. Water is vital for creating jobs and supporting economic, social and human developments.
For instance, in terms of creating jobs, thousands of Basotho have found employment under the multi-billion Lesotho Highland Water Project, Metolong Water Project; not to mention employment in the Ministry of Water.
Job creation is not only happening in the water sector but many like the health sector as clinicians cannot do their life-saving jobs without adhering to hygienically-sound principles.
Without water, the more than 35000 textile factory workers and other thousands indirect beneficiaries of the sector would not have managed to finance their basic needs like shelter, food and clothing.
I would not be penning this piece without water, though it might not be the primary need for me to write an article.
Without sustainable water management, Lesotho will never be out of the woods when it comes to food security. The 2015/16 El Nino-induced drought, which left over 600 000 Basotho food insecure, should be a lesson that water is life; a resource that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
This episode taught us that good rains and flowing rivers alone are not sufficient to ensure that every single Mosotho is food secure. For me, this episode taught me that we need a sustainable and well-managed environment to preserve water. A well-managed environment is like an overly protective brooding hen. It makes water catchment areas’ work to collect and preserve water during rainy days much easier.
If our environment is well taken care of, wetlands’ sponge-like capacity to collect and store more water during rainy days increases and when dry spells like the 2015/16 drought hit us, the wetlands are able to release the precious liquid into our rivers, dams and wells.
But if the situation is left unattended with a degraded environment, Lesotho is predicted by 2040 to literally have no top soil, with wetlands unable to fully perform their duties.
I must say that I am happy with efforts by different stakeholders, including government, to rehabilitate our wetlands like that of Khubelu, Mokhotlong as this is the right step towards sustainable water management.
But it remains everyone’s responsibility to take care of the environment we life in, protect the wetlands and save every single drop from your taps because every drop counts.
It is with this single drop that we will help Lesotho achieve the 17 SDGs; starting with ensuring that every one of the two million Basotho has access to clean water and do not travel more than five minutes to access that water.
Let us all remember that achieving the 2030 SDGs starts with you personally. Remember that without water, you will not be able to create the Lesotho, Africa and world you want for your children.
The 2063 African agenda will not be achievable without water. Water is a primary ingredient for the 2063 recipe of Africa we want.