Construction Begins On Phase 2 Of The Lesotho Highlands Water Project

The joint project with South Africa will supply water to the Vaal River system.

By Chriselle Moraes on
25th May 2023

Dignitaries from Lesotho and South Africa have launched the construction of the long-delayed second phase of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project at Malingoaneng, Tlokoeng district. 

King Letsie III of Lesotho, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Lesotho’s Prime Minister, Samuel Ntsokoane Matekane joined ministers and community leaders at a sod-turning ceremony on 23 May. 
The Lesotho Highlands Water Project is a partnership between South Africa and Lesotho to supply water to the Vaal River system, ensuring water security for Gauteng, the Free State, the Northern Cape and the North West province.

The construction of a network of tunnels and dams will transfer water from the Orange-Senqu River in the Lesotho Highlands to South Africa and use the water delivery system to provide hydroelectric power to the Kingdom of Lesotho. 

Phase 1 of the project was completed in 2003.

Phase 2 entails the construction of a 165-metre-high concrete-faced rock-fill dam at Polihali, downstream from the confluence of the Khubelu and Senqu rivers. It also features a 38-kilometre, concrete-lined gravity tunnel connecting the Polihali reservoir to the Katse reservoir. 

Upon completion in 2027-8, phase 2 will enable more than 400 million cubic metres of water to flow every year from the upper reaches of the Senqu River in Lesotho through the existing conveyance infrastructure to the Vaal Dam, taking the total volume of water being transferred to South Africa to more than 1.27 billion cubic metres a year.
Speaking at the ceremony, Ramaphosa commented that the Trans Caledon Tunnel Authority will raise most of the approximately R40 billion (US$2.068 billion) in capital required for phase 2 in South Africa’s financial markets. 

He added that South Africa is working with Namibia to plan additional dam infrastructure on the Lower Orange River. This is to ensure that the Lesotho Highlands Water Project does not negatively impact the Lower Orange River system. 

Photo: Polihali dam site (

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