South Africa - Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP), Phase II (AFDB-P-ZA-EA0-004)

  • South Africa
Geographic location where the impacts of the investment may be experienced.
Financial Institutions
  • African Development Bank (AFDB)
International, regional and national development finance institutions. Many of these banks have a public interest mission, such as poverty reduction.
Project Status
Stage of the project cycle. Stages vary by development bank and can include: pending, approval, implementation, and closed or completed.
Bank Risk Rating
Environmental and social categorization assessed by the development bank as a measure of the planned project’s environmental and social impacts. A higher risk rating may require more due diligence to limit or avoid harm to people and the environment. For example, "A" or "B" are risk categories where "A" represents the highest amount of risk. Results will include projects that specifically recorded a rating, all other projects are marked ‘U’ for "Undisclosed."
Voting Date
Oct 6, 2021
Date when project documentation and funding is reviewed by the Board for consideration and approval. Some development banks will state a "board date" or "decision date." When funding approval is obtained, the legal documents are accepted and signed, the implementation phase begins.
*Borrower information not provided at the time of disclosure*
A public entity (government or state-owned) provided with funds or financial support to manage and/or implement a project.
  • Water and Sanitation
The service or industry focus of the investment. A project can have several sectors.
Investment Type(s)
The categories of the bank investment: loan, grant, guarantee, technical assistance, advisory services, equity and fund.
Investment Amount (USD)
$ 89.56 million
Value listed on project documents at time of disclosure. If necessary, this amount is converted to USD ($) on the date of disclosure. Please review updated project documents for more information.
Primary Source

Original disclosure @ AFDB website

Updated in EWS Sep 6, 2022

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Project Description
If provided by the financial institution, the Early Warning System Team writes a short summary describing the purported development objective of the project and project components. Review the complete project documentation for a detailed description.

According to bank provided information, the proposed project fits with the objective to deepen regional integration and promote industrialization in South Africa. It also realizes the GoKL's aspiration to boost benefits from its natural resources and develop its infrastructure to create the necessary enabling conditions for private sector development. Both South Africa and Lesotho are inextricably linked socially and economically, and the project is further cementing their relationship for mutual development. The Project is one of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) priority water infrastructure projects for promoting regional integration. The Project is estimated to cost ZAR 32.562 billion (UA 1.576 billion), net of taxes and duties. The AfDB loan of ZAR 1.3 billion and NDB loan of ZAR 3.2 billion will finance, on pari-pasu basis, part of component B - Main works covering Polihali Dam and Polihali Transfer Tunnel works. The Project will provide secure and sustainable water sources to the population living in the Gauteng Region covering five provinces (Guateng, Freestate, Mpumalanga, North West and Northern Cape Provinces) of South Africa with a combined population of 26 million and 60% of South Africa's economy. The water delivered and transferred to the Vaal River System will ensure water availability for domestic consumption, irrigation, industries and mining. On the Lesotho side, more than 85,000 people will benefit upon completion of the project, which is bound to impact positively on community development activities, private sector growth through improved infrastructure and contribute to Lesotho's socio-economic development.

The development objectives of the project are to ensure water security of the Gauteng Region of South Africa and improve the socio-economic development of Lesotho through improved infrastructure and potential for hydropower generation. The Project will specifically aim to increase the transfer of water from Lesotho to the Republic of South Africa from the current 780 million m3/year to 1260 million m3/year and to provide opportunity to generate additional hydroelectric power in Lesotho. Direct and indirect impacts on communities and cultural heritage are also extensive: almost 1000 households will have been resettled for Phase I and II. Many more people will be directly affected from the loss of fields and grazing, which are in increasingly short supply as the population grows and drought periods increase in frequency and duration, resulting in food insecurity for much of the population of Lesotho. Further, the indirect impacts of large-scale infrastructure development in remote rural areas of the Highlands and the associated influx of thousands of mainly single male workers over three-year periods is expected to have contributed to the increased incidence of HIV/AIDS in the region.

Investment Description
Here you can find a list of individual development financial institutions that finance the project.

U.A 62,683,227.9

Contact Information
This section aims to support the local communities and local CSO to get to know which stakeholders are involved in a project with their roles and responsibilities. If available, there may be a complaint office for the respective bank which operates independently to receive and determine violations in policy and practice. Independent Accountability Mechanisms receive and respond to complaints. Most Independent Accountability Mechanisms offer two functions for addressing complaints: dispute resolution and compliance review.

DEMISSIE Eskendir Alemseged 


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The Independent Review Mechanism (IRM), which is administered by the Compliance Review and Mediation Unit (CRMU), is the independent complaint mechanism and fact-finding body for people who have been or are likely to be adversely affected by an African Development Bank (AfDB)-financed project. If you submit a complaint to the IRM, it may assist you by either seeking to address your problems by facilitating a dispute resolution dialogue between you and those implementing the project and/or investigating whether the AfDB complied with its policies to prevent environmental and social harms. You can submit a complaint electronically by emailing,,, and/or You can learn more about the IRM and how to file a complaint at: 

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