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Embassy of the Kingdom of Lesotho

2511 Massachusetts
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Tel.: 1-202-797-5533
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Government Moves Swiftly to Address Recent Sewer Pipe Break

Washington DC, Embassy of the Kingdom of Lesotho, (August 14, 2009) The Government of Lesotho has noted, with great concern, recent reports regarding water pollution within the Lesotho garment industry at a mill and denim manufacturing unit in Maseru. The textile and garment industry in Lesotho plays a crucial role in reducing poverty through economic development and job creation. The industry supports the well-being of almost 200,000 Basotho people – not only in terms of income, but also through health care services provided at the factories for workers, many of whom have HIV/AIDS.

Lesotho is a beneficiary of special trade initiatives, thanks to its strong commitment to democratic and economic progress, investment in public health and education, as well as its keen interest in maintaining strong labor and environmental standards. The Lesotho Government is aggressively addressing recent environmental and public health concerns, and is actively engaging key stakeholders to resolve these issues.

The incident reported in the media involving water pollution is an isolated and unfortunate situation. The Government of Lesotho immediately established an ad hoc Cabinet sub-committee of relevant Ministers and officials to manage the incident urgently.

An investigation found that a break in a municipal sewer pipe at one of the plants lead to discharge. This was an operational problem, and an insolated incident. Both problems have been corrected, and a monitoring system that ensures the quality of water treatment has been implemented. Further, the Government can confirm that the mill and denim manufacturing units in Maseru have functioning wastewater treatment plants.

The Government has developed short, medium and long term programmes to address solid waste disposal sites. Immediately, security was put in place to prevent unauthorised entry into waste disposal facilities, and the Government has implemented short term measures to dispose of solid waste from the city. The Government has identified a landfill site at Tšoeneng as a long term and sustainable measure to ensure problems with discharge to not occur again. A feasibility study for this project is complete, and it is anticipated that the landfill site will be completed within approximately four years time.

Additional actions the Government would like to pursue include investigating the impacts these environmental issues might have had on the surrounding communities. This process will be a highly technical and costly exercise, and the Government envisions external technical and financial assistance from organizations and cooperating partners with experience and resources for these programs.

The Government of Lesotho would like to appeal to its partners and buyers of Lesotho products to continue sourcing from Lesotho. The Government has a number of ongoing projects aimed at improving public health and environmental enforcement, and is committed to working with all stakeholders to address these issues, and improve the well-being of the people of Lesotho.

For more information please contact Embassy of the Kingdom of Lesotho and direct any questions to:

His Excellency David Rantekoa, Ambassador of Lesotho to the United States
2511 Massachusetts Drive, NW
Washington, D.C. 20008

Media Contact:
Paul Fakes, The Whitaker Group

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