The Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho is the water tower for the Southern African region. Water is Lesotho’s principal natural resource. It is a vital resource for a wide range of sectors and critical infrastructure services, such as energy, agriculture, and economic production (i.e., textile industry). The Metolong Dam and reservoir play a key role in making sustainable use of Lesotho’s water resources. The purpose of the Metolong dam is to increase access to water and improve the reliability of water supply to urban and peri-urban areas in Maseru, and the neighboring towns as well as to support continued economic growth.
Erratic weather patterns and drought, unsustainable land-use methods, increased demand due to growing population and unplanned urbanization patterns, as well as insufficient access to alternative livelihoods lead to overgrazing, erosion, and desertification. This is further driven and compounded by climate change, which is expected to push Lesotho into a period of water stress by 2030. It is therefore crucial to understand how to increase the resilience of critical water infrastructure and its interdependent systems to ensure resilient and sustainable water supply. Managing water infrastructure and supply from a systemic, transboundary, and risk-based perspective is thus critical.
The Government of Lesotho in cooperation with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH has launched a process under the umbrella of the national Integrated Catchment Management (ICM) programme – RENOKA – to assess the vulnerability of the Metolong Dam Infrastructure system and relevant upstream and downstream components. Together with the Climate Risk Institute (CRI), the Global Initiative on Disaster Risk Management (GIDRM) and ICM are advancing the use of the Public Infrastructure Engineering Vulnerability Committee (PIEVC) Protocol for the assessment of climate change risks associated with infrastructure assets in the water sector in Lesotho. This will provide a better insight of the service reliability of the dam system, identify potential consequences of varying water service levels, and enable an understanding for risk-informed and sustainable development in Lesotho. To arrive at the expected results the risk assessment is carried out as a multi-stakeholder decision making process to allow maximum transparency, ownership and collective accountability.
PIEVC Protocol Inception Workshop
The climate risk assessment was kick-started during an inception workshop from 24-25th August 2022 in Maseru, Lesotho. Participants were introduced to climate change, systemic risks and the application of the PIEVC Protocol focusing on a holistic understanding of the dam infrastructure and related systems. As various relevant stakeholder came together, different perspectives and dynamics around the Metolong Dam were examined. All participants agreed that the dam is under threat of diminishing capacity in the coming years resulting in the inability to meet the needs of communities. This is gravely concerning and calls for urgent environmental, social, and economic interventions up and downstream to ensure sustainable water provision. Economic and ecological issues of the dam need to be considered in an integrated manner while drawing municipal actors in as part of the assessment team. The relationship with the local communities needs to be improved to facilitate the coordination of efforts. To meet current and future needs of the Basotho nation and beyond, a risk-informed development (RID) perspective is critical for the assessment and the implementation of measures to ensure sustainable water supply by Metolong Dam.
The process is supported by the Global Initiative on Disaster Risk Management (GIDRM) commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The risk assessment itself is being carried out in partnership with the Climate Risk Institute (CRI) in Canada together with their specialized associates using the assessment protocol of the Public Infrastructure Engineering Vulnerability Committee (PIEVC). PIEVC is hosted and promoted by an alliance of CRI, GIZ and ICLR, the Institute for Catastrophic Risk Reduction.