SOCIAL PROGRAMS

Construction of the Polihali Dam and reservoir, water transfer tunnel and the associated access roads, bridges, accommodation and telecommunications infrastructure, will impact on communities in Mokhotlong and adjoining districts. It is essential that measures are put in place to minimise and mitigate these impacts. The compensation of affected people is mandated by the Agreement between South Africa and Lesotho governing Phase II. Affected communities, local authorities and other stakeholders have been consulted on the development of the Phase II Compensation Policy which was approved by the Project authorities in August 2016. Compensation and resettlement programmes will be implemented to ensure that affected households are fairly compensated and that physically displaced households are properly relocated and re-established.

The implementation of Phase II requires the acquisition of land from local communities. This will be the approximately 5 000 hectares which will be flooded by the Polihali Dam and reservoir in the valleys and tributary catchments of the Senqu and Khubelu Rivers. This will lead to resettlement with potentially significant impacts on the livelihoods and socio-economic status of the local population as cultivation land, trees, grazing land and other natural resources will be inundated and access to resources and facilities impeded.

Permanent land acquisition will also be necessary for infrastructure developments such as access roads, power lines, office and residential accommodation, and some land will be occupied temporarily during the construction period.

The Treaty governing the Lesotho Highlands Water Project and the Phase II Agreement commit both parties to take “all reasonable measures to ensure that the implementation, operation and maintenance of the project are compatible with the protection and the existing quality of the environment and, in particular, shall pay due regard to the maintenance of the welfare of the persons and communities immediately affected by the Project”. The LHDA is therefore mandated to ensure that the risks associated with resettlement are addressed and that the livelihoods of affected people are restored. A Compensation Policy for Phase II, which defines the range of losses and specifies compensation and relocation entitlements, has been prepared in consultation with affected communities, local authorities in Mokhotlong District and other stakeholders. The Compensation Policy was approved by the Project authorities in August 2016.

Compensation and resettlement programmes will be implemented to ensure that physically displaced households are properly relocated and re-established, that compensation is paid for the loss of assets and productive capacity, that the livelihoods of affected people are restored, and that other impacts are mitigated in consultation with affected communities and households. A Phase II social development master plan will also be prepared to promote social, environmental and economic development in the project area that is both sustainable and in line with national development strategies and goals.

The LHDA has secured the services of experienced resettlement consultants to assist with the preparation and implementation of these programmes. These consultants will work closely with affected communities to:

  • identify and confirm all affected households;
  • register affected land and assets;
  • determine compensation entitlements; and
  • establish relocation and livelihood restoration preferences.

Once this participatory planning process has been completed and approved, the consultants will assist the LHDA with the implementation of the resettlement programme. The LHDA will maintain a community liaison function throughout the process to ensure effective involvement of affected communities in the resettlement programme.

By September 2017, significant progress in planning and asset registration and verification had been done by the consultants appointed to the project: Lima Rural Development-Thaha Joint Venture (a joint venture between the Lima Rural Development Foundation and Thaha Projects), and Makhetha Development Consultants, and the LHDA in-house team.

DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS

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.

Livelihood Restoration

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.

Village Chickens

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.

Vegetables Tunnels

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.

Apiculture

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.

Social Development

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.

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