A critical review of the quality of enviromental impact assessment reports in Lesotho
Environmental impact assessment (EIA) is one of the tools used by relevant authorities all over the world in an attempt to ensure that the principles of sustainable development are achieved. Since the Environment Act (EA) No. 15 of 2001 was passed in the parliament many EIAs have been conducted in Lesotho. This Act has been replaced with the EA No. 10 of 2008. Though it was not until June 2009 that the environmental law was promulgated, government institutions and environmental practitioners have been operating within the provisions of this Act. The preparation of high quality EIA reports is one component of an effective translation of EIA policy into practice. The Lee and Colley review package (Lee et al 1999) was used to assess the quality of 15 EIA reports submitted to the National Environment Secretariat which is now referred to as the Department of Environment (DoE). The reports comprised of the project briefs (PBs) and the environmental impact statements (EISs). Interviews with the EIA consultants, stakeholders and concerned government officials have also been conducted to underpin the root cause of poor quality of EIA reports. The analysis reveals that several key areas of EIA do not receive sufficient attention. The inadequacies are particularly in areas relating description of the development, identification, evaluation and mitigation of key impacts, consideration of alternatives, and consultation and participation of the public. The government institutions also show less interest in environmental matters and as a result matters relating to environment are given less priority. This leaves the effectiveness of the EIA process to be highly questionable. The study offers suggestions that would improve the EIA process in the country.