Exploring the impacts of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project on the sustainable livelihoods of resettled communities

Liphoto, Mosili Jacqueline (2020-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2020.


ENGLISH SUMMARY : The controversies surrounding the construction of large dams around the world are well documented. The most talked about in recent times is the Chinese Three Gorges dam, which broke all-time records. On one hand, the Chinese government has projected it as the largest green power initiative, while on the other hand it displaced a whopping 1.13 million villagers in addition to other environmental issues. In Africa the narrative is very similar. While national governments prefer to highlight the potential economic benefits of such projects, the communities directly affected are invariably indignant during and after such projects are commissioned. Not only do they express dissatisfaction for little or no compensation for the direct losses occasioned by their displacement, they also do not benefit from the supposed economic benefits. When one reads such stories they are often presented by un-empathetic foreign researchers, who simply present the communities as faceless numbers. This is a study with a difference. It is about the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) and was undertaken by a researcher born and raised under similar socio-economic and cultural circumstances as the communities involved. The constructions of large dams serve a variety of purposes. Lesotho’s primary purpose is selling water to South Africa. A secondary purpose is provision of hydropower to Basotho. The study is aimed at exploring and understanding the socio-economic impacts experienced by Basotho who have been displaced by the LHWP. The area of interest fundamental to the research was to understand the livelihoods of project affected persons (PAP) during pre and post-resettlement. Discussed in the study were impacts of the resettlement and development implementation program (RDIP), as seen from the re-settlers’ perspective and the implementation of the compensation policy on PAPs as presented by the project implementers. The PAPs resettled in many host villages, but only two: Ha-Mosalla and Makhoakhoeng were selected for the purpose of this study. This explorative study adopted a qualitative approach where primary and secondary forms of data were collected. Literature review served as background information and provided foundational information to the problem statement, application of relevant theories and methodology design. The literature further sharpened the understanding of larger dam impacts. In-depth semi-structured interviews and focus groups were conducted during data collection. Informed by life history method of data collection, the life-changing events of participants were effectively captured. The study found that PAPs have experienced negative and positive impacts owing to compensation and the RDIP. However, due to inefficient implementation of programs, results indicate that the negatives outweigh the positives. The study uncovered an unexpected phenomenon. Those regarded as unaffected by the LHWP turned out to be inadvertent PAPs due to the socio-economic and cultural interdependency with PAPs. Finally, the study came up with recommendations from the lessons learnt. These included: (i) prioritization of livelihoods restoration; and (ii) comprehensive and inclusive community participation during inception and post implementation phases of dam projects.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : PAP’s het hulle in verskeie naburige dorpies hervestig, maar slegs twee dorpies is uitgekies vir die doel van hierdie studie: Ha-Mosalla en Makhoakhoeng. Hierdie verkennende studie gebruik ’n kwalitatiewe benadering, waar primêre en sekondêre datavorme versamel is. ’n Literatuuroorsig dien as agtergrond en verskaf grondliggende inligting vir die probleemstelling, die toepassing van tersaaklike teorieë en die metodologie-ontwerp. Die literatuur verskerp verder die insig oor die impak van groter damme. Diepgaande semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude en fokusgroepe is tydens die data-insameling gebruik. Die deelnemers se lewensveranderende ervarings, ingelig deur die lewensgeskiedenis-metode van data-insameling, is effektief vasgelê. Die studie het bevind dat PAP’s negatiewe en positiewe gevolge ervaar het na aanleiding van die vergoeding en die RDIP. Die resultate dui daarop dat vanweë die ondoeltreffende implementering van die program, die negatiewe aspekte ongelukkig die positiewe aspekte oortref. Die studie het verder ’n onverwagse verskynsel uitgewys. Diegene wat beskou is as persone wat nie deur die LHWP geraak is nie, het geblyk onbewustelik PAP’s te wees as gevolg van die sosio-ekonomiese en kulturele interafhanklikheid van die PAP’s. Uiteindelik kon die studie aanbevelings formuleer uit die lesse wat geleer is. Dit sluit in: (i) die prioritisering van die herstel van lewensbestaan; en (ii) omvattende en inklusiewe gemeenskapsdeelname tydens die aanvangs- en postimplementeringsfases van damprojekte.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/108199
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