Parastatal organization mandated to manage a single project for the supply and distribution of water in the country Water Utilities says it still continues to face challenges in underground water due to natural factors such as high salinity, low rates of replenishment due to low rainfall and the deep-seated nature of their aquifers.
Other challenges facing underground water resources, according to the group’s 2018 Annual Report, are old boreholes infrastructure and high leakages, vandalism and theft of equipment, illegal abstraction and uncoordinated developments in the well fields leading to groundwater pollution and over-abstraction and ever-increasing water demands. The report indicates that groundwater accounts for about 60 per cent of water supply.
Further, the report indicated that some operational areas continued facing water shortages, saying that normal water supply to the areas require significant funding. The Corporation demonstrated that well fields in Kanye, Maitengwe, Dukwi, Letlhakane, Molepolole and Ghanzi were experiencing declining water levels and low recharge rate and some well fields failed as a result.
The Corporation’s parent Ministry, the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, responded to some of these problems through extension of North South Carrier to connect villages such as Kanye, Thamaga and Molepolole. The impact is yet to be felt as construction is still on-going. Other challenges such as declining borehole water levels and high leakages due to dilapidated infrastructure continue to pose a challenge. Management centres such as Letlhakane, Molepolole, Tsabong and Ghanzi are wholly dependent on groundwater supplies.
However, there have been no major groundwater resources development projects implemented in these areas in a very long time despite the design life of boreholes. The report accentuated that Molepolole Management Centre is the only centre to have seen a major groundwater development project in the recent past; the development of Malwelwe and Sorilatholo well fields.
It underscored that most of the boreholes in the Malwelwe well field were drilled in 1991 and were only rehabilitated during the 2008 Botlhapatlou groundwater development project. Furthermore, it was said that the Nata cluster continues to experience water supply problems because of increased demand and leakages owing to aged infrastructure as well as destruction of water supply networks by elephants.
To address the problems in the cluster, the Ministry identified four monitoring boreholes within Dukwi well field for conversion to production boreholes to augment the supply as a short-term solution; however the envisaged plan by the Corporation has a potential risk of subsequently aggravating deterioration in water supply.
Statistics show that, of the 846 analysed boreholes, 654 were drilled before the year 2000 indicating that well over 75% of boreholes have long gone past their design life. The report stressed that the borehole conditions are aggravated by high salinity in areas such as Tsabong, Letlhakane and Masunga Management Centres whilst in other areas such as Molepolole, Pallaroad, Masama and Serowe, incrustation from formation of iron bacterial colonies has contributed significantly to the accelerated dilapidation of boreholes infrastructure.
The observations are not recent as they were previously identified through a Borehole Rehabilitation Project. A detailed analysis of the Corporation’s water supply boreholes is required as current analysis are limited by the absence of groundwater monitoring data and information, the report said. Nevertheless, the Corporation’s in-house programme to rehabilitate its water supply boreholes continues. A 2017 World Bank study concluded that the Corporation’s transition in role and responsibility set against unaltered management and operation structure and personnel complement compromises the Corporation’s ability to fulfil all the responsibilities and activities placed upon it.
Despite all the challenges, efforts are being made to improve the Corporations groundwater monitoring activities. The World Bank funded Emergency Water Security and Efficiency Project is intended to interlay address chronic drought in Botswana that continues to affect boreholes by saline intrusion, drying up and collapsing. To this end the proposed investment are aimed at reducing stress on groundwater sources by developing alternative and more sustainable sources.
According to the report, the Cleaning and Fishing Rig has been able to rehabilitate over 42 boreholes countrywide in five management centres, Kanye, Molepolole, Mahalapye, Masunga and Tsabong. This represented an average of 3.5 boreholes against the target of 4 boreholes per month. The Corporation indicated that it drilled two boreholes, one at Bray and another at Ramotlabaki during the period under review. These two villages had no source of supply after their boreholes suffered collapse and therefore necessitated the drilling of replacement boreholes.
The success completion of the boreholes and their subsequent connection to the network has alleviated the acute water shortage the villages have been facing. The North South Carrier scheme operated satisfactorily during the period under review. Pump Stations showed good availability over the year except for Pump Station No:2 which had only one out of the three pumps available during the first quarter. There was a spike in the downtime of the scheme arising from maintenance works required to connect new components to the scheme. The overall availability of the scheme stood at 87.5%, the report indicated.
With increased incidents of vandalism, the report underlined that the Corporation equipped the new pump stations and reservoirs with surveillance cameras that are controlled remotely from Mmamashia Command Centre. Water losses were mainly registered in areas with high incidences of infrastructure failure owing to dilapidated networks, unmetered standpipes, inefficient meters and physical losses.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.
In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.
“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.
“We will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,“ he said.
However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the “Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.”
Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.
“SADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,” the statement says.
Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.
Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.
State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.
The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.
Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.
“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” Ookeditse said.
However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.
Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.
“Yesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,” said the State prosecutor.
While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.
He told the court that on the 12th of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.
According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Aston’s children) are staying.
“Thato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,” said Zhalamonto.
Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.
“I have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,” Zhalamonto told the court.
He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.
“Phillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.
He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.
Furthermore, the fourth accused, Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.
Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6th of next month
Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.
Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.
To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.
“We spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine – that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,” said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.
Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herder’s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.
“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,” said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).