The implementation of large infrastructure projects like the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) can disrupt the lives of people in the project area. It is therefore inevitable that the implementation of Phase II will lead to involuntary resettlement resulting in physical and economic displacement, with potentially significant impacts on the livelihoods and socio-economic status of the local population.
The Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA), is mandated by the 1986 Treaty and the Phase II agreement to ensure that the risks associated with involuntary resettlement are addressed and that the livelihoods of affected people are restored, seeks not only to restore but to improve the livelihoods of the communities living in the LHWP II area through initiatives that will be sustainable beyond the construction period. Communities in the project area should become beneficiaries of the development long after the construction.
The mitigation measures include compensation for assets acquired by the project, resettlement of affected households and livelihood restoration programs to ensure that the standard of living of the affected households are improved or at least maintained to the pre-project levels.
A number of livelihood restoration initiatives have been designed for implementation in the short term. The interventions include livelihoods awareness programmes, technical skills training to facilitate employment based livelihoods and demonstration projects in the four community councils of Menoaneng, Mokhotlong Urban, Mphokojoane and Seate. The purpose of the projects is to illustrate viable projects that could be replicated by individual households and communities. These include village chickens, production of vegetables in tunnels and bee keeping.
In rural communities, most households raise chickens. They are a high source of protein and cash income and play a significant role in sociocultural life. LHDA has embarked on this project because chickens are already a part of rural life, and enhancing their income earning capacity is relatively inexpensive for households.
The chickens can thrive with an irregular supply of feed and water and require minimum care.
Farmers in many parts of the world are shifting to the use of vegetable tunnels for vegetable production due to the challenges brought by climate change, changing rainfall patterns and harsh weather conditions. In the mountain areas of Lesotho, this situation is worsened by increasing levels of poverty and land degradation.
Plastic covered tunnels are considered appropriate for independent small farmers. They ensure greater control over growing conditions and lengthen the growing season. They protect produce against hail storms, high temperatures, pests and diseases and they contribute to predictable, high quality yields, which lead to improved incomes.
The purpose of this pilot project is to train local communities in beekeeping and to support them to process their honey and beeswax. Beekeeping is a critical activity as it bees play an important role in the pollination of many flowering plants, thus increasing the yield of crops and contributing to improved food security, and the generation of income from the sale of honey and related products. Some of the villages in the Phase II area are rich in trees and other plants which make them suitable for bee keeping and honey production.
The activity requires intermittent labor and few input materials.
A social development master plan will be developed, in consultation with key stakeholders. It will describe development projects to be undertaken in the LHWP II project area. The LHDA is committed to partnering with the local communities, government entities, non- governmental organizations and academic institutions to deliver successful development projects that can self-sustain long after the construction of the LHWP II.