Drought-stricken Botswana may ration water

Time of article published Jul 8, 2005

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Gaborone - Botswana is facing a "desperate" situation and may have to ration water and purify sewage after a drought that has left the capital's main dam at just over 20 percent of its normal capacity, officials say.

Water is always a scarce resource in Botswana, a country dominated by the Kalahari Desert where the currency is named the "pula" or "raindrop" because the commodity is so valuable, but officials say this year is one of the worst on record.

"We have never done this before because we have never had a reason to," deputy CEO of Water Utilities Godfrey Mudanga said on Thursday, adding the drought was the worst in a decade.

The Gaborone dam only contained enough water to last another four months, he said, but water would be piped in to the city of about 200 000 people from other dams as soon as pipeline problems were solved.

In the longer term, recycled water and sewage would be mixed with dam water, he said, and communities will be educated and trained in water conservation.

Botswana's handful of commercial farmers say they have seen their production slashed by the drought, which has also left crops struggling in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and parts of Mozambique.

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