The socio-economic impact of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project resettlement programme at Makhoakhoeng
Kotelo-Molaoa, Mampho N.
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Large dams are constructed for irrigation, generation of hydroelectricity, consumption and so forth. In the case of Lesotho, the LHWP was constructed with the sole purpose of selling water to South Africa in order to earn royalties and to generate hydroelectricity. Although a number of factors are used to justify the construction of large dams, worldwide experience has shown that the consequences emanating from their construction are sometimes irreversible and painful like having to be resettled. This study therefore sought to establish the extent of the impacts emanating from the LHWP Resettlement Programme at Makhoakhoeng, whether the standard of living of resettlees as measured in terms of access to services has improved or not, the extent of their participation in the resettlement programme, and their perception on their standard of living. The specific study objectives were to: i) determine the socio-economic impacts of the resettlement on the resettled communities; ii) elicit the perceptions of the displaced people about their participation in resettlement programme decision making; iii) evaluate the adequacy of the compensation and resettlement packages; and iv) ascertain the level of satisfaction of the resettlees with the resettlement programme. A combination of research techniques was used to collect both the qualitative and the quantitative data. Data collection instruments employed were: i) A literature review was undertaken to provide background information to the problem statement, the design of the methodology, and also on the theories and other factors used to justify the construction of large dams. Perusal of the existing literature also led to a deeper understanding of the impacts of large dams, international experiences and reaction towards construction of large dams and Lesotho’s experience regarding the construction of large dams. ii) Key informants interviews were conducted with selected individuals who in one way or another were key in terms of implementing the resettlement programme at Makhoakhoeng. iii) A questionnaire survey was conducted with the households who came from Molika-Liko and were resettled at Makhoakhoeng. iv) A focus group discussion was held with some of the resettlees. Information collected through filling in the questionnaire was keyed into the microcomputer network system using Microsoft Excel to produce graphs and tables. The data collected through key informants, special cases and focus group discussions were collated and written into descriptive reports, i.e., summarised field discussion records. The LHWP Resettlement Programme at Makhoakhoeng has resulted in both positive and the negative impacts. Furthermore, the study has concluded that there is a need to: i) engage with all the stakeholders affected by involuntary resettlement through an open and transparent public participation process ii) pay attention to the identification of more sustainable means of livelihoods iii) conduct SIAs that can point to those intangible aspects of resettlement iv) put in place an appeal system that is affordable and accessible to people who are dissatisfied with the resettlement package v) present resettlees with information on each of the options so as to enable them to make informed decisions vi) honour promises in order to build trust with the resettlees. The following recommendations are being made for future resettlement programmes: i) Change the mindset of those charged with the management of resettlement programmes so that they are more empathetic towards resettlees ii) Reform institutions within the water sector iii) Adopt a multidisciplinary approach in resettlement programmes iv) Differentiate resettlees into subgroups v) Engage in an open and transparent public participation process vi) Conduct SIAs with a monitoring and evaluation component vii) Identify sustainable means of livelihoods for the resettlees viii) Compensate affected people for loss of access to common property.