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:
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.
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 programmes 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 labour 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 organisations and academic institutions to deliver successful development projects that can self-sustain long after the construction of the LHWP II.
Infrastructure projects of the magnitude of Phase II are informed by extensive research in order to fully understand and mitigate the impact of the project's implementation on the community and the natural environment in the area. Prior to the impoundment and flooding of the area upstream of the Polihali Dam, the LHDA undertook a baseline assessment of the existing ecological, cultural and social environments. These baseline studies included an assessment of the Instream Flow Requirements (IFR) encompassing water quality, flow and geomorphology aspects; the socio-economic conditions; fauna and flora; archaeology and public health.
The data collected in the Phase II baseline studies are the reference against which future changes can be measured in line with internationally recognised standards. The main objectives of these studies were to:
The study aimed to gain an understanding of livelihoods and quality of life of people in the project area. The study was made up of the following tasks:
The aim of the study was to determine the volume (magnitude), frequency, timing and duration of water flows that need to remain in the downstream river following the construction of the Polihali Dam. This is to afford suitable protection to the river ecosystem and to ensure the long-term and sustainable availability of the ecosystem services on which the downstream communities depend. This study comprised the following tasks:
The aim of the study was to establish the baseline conditions for the biological and archaeological aspects of Phase II and to provide appropriate management measures, as well as a monitoring plan. It included undertaking the following tasks:
The Phase II main components include the construction of a concrete-faced rockfill dam at Polihali and a gravity tunnel that will connect Polihali Reservoir to the Katse Reservoir. Phase II also includes the construction and establishment of associated infrastructure without which the main components (dam and tunnel) could not be built, i.e. the construction of access roads, bridges, bulk utilities (power, water supplies, wastewater treatment and communications), establishment of quarries and borrow pits, site camps, laydown areas, spoil areas, project housing and site offices.
In terms of the requirements of the Lesotho Environment Act (Act 10 of 2008), the Project must obtain environmental authorisation through completion of an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for development to proceed.
To date, an ESIA including a number of specialist studies and an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) has been completed for the Polihali Reservoir and Associated Infrastructure. A record of decision authorising construction of the two major components (Dam and Tunnel) was issued by Lesotho’s Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Culture on 24 August 2018.
An ESIA including a number of specialist studies and an EMP for the Polihali Western Access Corridor (PWAC) has also been completed. The PWAC is comprised of the Polihali Western Access Road (PWAR), a new, paved road that is 54.3 km long and runs between the A8 near Ha Seshote to the Polihali Reservoir near Tloha-re-Bue (and the Bulk Power Supply and Telecommunications (BPST) Infrastructure. The BPST Infrastructure entails a 35.4 km 132 kV transmission line and substations and telecommunications infrastructure. A record of decision authorising construction of the PWAC components was issued by Lesotho’s Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Culture on 23 March 2018.
In addition to the two ESIAs listed above, a number of EMPs have been prepared for smaller Phase II components, e.g. EMP for the upgrade of the Polihali North East Access Road (PNEAR), the Diversion Tunnels EMP and environmental authorisation has been granted. Construction activities relating to the upgrading of the PNEAR have commenced. Similarly, a construction contract for the Diversion Tunnel has been awarded.
In addition to the baseline studies and ESIAs, LHDA intends to implement a number of long-term environmental and social action plans under Phase II including an Integrated Catchment Management Plan, a Cultural Heritage Plan, Resettlement Action Plans, Social Development Plan, Biodiversity Management Plan, Livelihood Restoration Plan, Public Health Action Plan, etc. While some of these plans have already commenced, e.g. Resettlement Action Plans, Cultural Heritage Plan and Integrated Catchment Management Plan, others are still in the initial planning phases.
Health is integral to development and the LHDA is committed to ensuring that the impacts of the Project on the health of the affected population are identified and that measures to mitigate the expected negative impacts and enhance positive public health consequences are implemented. To ensure this, the LHDA has completed a public health baseline study and will develop and implement a public health action plan to address the impacts brought about by the Project.
A Public Health Baseline Study (PHBS) was commissioned in February 2014 and was concluded in June 2016. The study was based on a 20% sample of the households which were enumerated in the Socio-Economic Baseline Study (SEBS). The PHBS was intended to provide comprehensive information on the state of health of the population residing in the project area.
This study aimed to determine the baseline status of social determinants of health and the burden of disease amongst communities in the project area.
The study was made up of the following tasks:
The LHDA has appointed a public health team comprising a Public Health Specialist, and Public Health Nurse and a Data Management Officer to conduct a Health Impact Assessment (HIA).
Following the completion of the HIA and its approval by the LHDA and Ministry of Health (MoH), and before the start of the major construction works, the public health team will develop the Public Health Action Plan (PHAP) for the impacted populations. This will be done in close collaboration with the MoH and the local health authorities, so that the Ministry continues the ownership of health service delivery and that there is seamless continuation of the health services in the Project area after completion of the construction activities. A Memorandum of Understanding will be signed by the two institutions, to define the roles of the MoH, local health authorities, LHDA and the implementation team to facilitate the implementation phase in a collaborative manner.
Phase II of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project includes the construction of a dam at Polihali, the Polihali to Katse water transfer tunnel and a significant investment into ancillary infrastructure which will benefit the communities in the vicinity of the project in the long term. Much of this is advance infrastructure; that infrastructure which needs to be put in place before the dam and tunnel can be built. This includes power lines and telecommunications links; roads; offices, workshops and residential accommodation for people working on site.
The electrical infrastructure required for the Phase II development includes the construction of new substations, upgrading of existing Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC) substations, the construction of new power lines and the diversion of some of the existing distribution network.
A new power substation will be constructed at Polihali Dam and another will be built adjacent to the existing Matsoku diversion substation. Substations at the Katse tower intake and Ha Lejone will be upgraded. The protection and control systems of the Maputsoe, Pitseng and Matsoku diversion substations will be upgraded. Furthermore, all substations will be equipped for remote control from the LEC national control centre located at Mabote substation near Maseru.
The electrical infrastructure also includes the construction of a 38km transmission line between the existing LEC transmission networks in the Matsoku Valley, east of Katse Dam eastwards towards the construction site of the Polihali Dam. The existing 20km transmission line from Ha Lejone to Matsoku will also be upgraded from 66kV to 132kV, as will the 118km transmission line from the Maputsoe substation to the Katse Dam substation. After the construction of Polihali Dam and Polihali transfer tunnel, the infrastructure built in Phase II will be integrated into the LEC network which will improve the supply to local communities.
A temporary distribution power line of 2.2km will be constructed to supply the Polihali village during the Phase II construction period and the existing LEC network on the eastern side of the Polihali dam will be diverted.
The project will establish a communications network backbone which will be integrated with the existing LEC network through fibre optic and microwave radio links. A Network Management system (NMS) will also be established. Cyber security equipment, and IP based Video Conference System and other voice communication equipment will be installed to improve communication at the project area.
Construction of roads is one of the major components of the advance infrastructure under Phase II. A new road that leads to the dam site will be constructed while two existing roads will be upgraded.
The existing Polihali North East Access Road (PNEAR), a 16km long gravel road which starts in the town of Mapholaneng and runs towards the Polihali Dam site, will be upgraded to a Class A surfaced road. The road will provide access to the dam site for construction vehicles and improve ease of movement for communities in the surrounding areas. The works include a roundabout that links the PNEAR and the A1, sidewalks and drainage systems and other appurtenant works.
The Polihali Western Access Road (PWAR) is a new, 54.3km paved road linking the A8 in the vicinity of Ha Seshote in the west to Polihali in the east. It will join the PNEAR at Kosheteng. The works include two new bridges at Semenanyane and Makhoaba villages and associated infrastructure like storm water drainage and culverts.
The Northern Access Road (NAR) will be repaired and resealed with minor safety upgrades. The section that will be rehabilitated stretches for 98km from the Pitseng town up to the Malibamatšo River just below the Katse Dam wall. It provides access to the Katse Dam basin between Leribe and Katse village. The NAR will tie into the PWAR at Ha Seshote and will provide a further link to the Polihali basin.
The dam reservoir will inundate a large area which includes the existing roads. As a result of the impounding of the Polihali reservoir, a number of existing roads and tracks will become unusable and will need to be replaced. The restoration of roads requires construction of a number of new road sections leading to new bridge structures which are required to cross the reservoir. Three major bridges will be built along the Maseru to Mokhotlong A1 road. One bridge will be at Mabunyane River and the other at Khubelu. The biggest bridge will be at the Senqu River and will be approximately 580m long and 110m high.
Permanent housing will form a legacy estate for the project and as such is designed to the principles of energy efficiency and sustainability while at the same time fitting into the rural land scape of the site. The houses will be used by on-site personnel from the LHDA, dam and tunnel consultants and others including relevant Government of Lesotho (GoL) officials. In the post construction phase, the houses will be used by the LHDA Operations team and related GoL departments.
The operations centre will be a multifaceted building comprising an office building, exhibition hall, conference facilities and Visitors Information Centre. This building is located strategically on the water`s edge so that occupants are always presented with dam views. It is influenced by the terrain and blends into the shape and profile of the land. The building will be used by LHDA and dam consultants during the construction phase and LHDA Polihali Operations will take it over, post implementation.
This is retail centre which will focus on the provision of convenience shopping space for the day-to-day needs of consumers at Polihali village and the immediate neighbouring villages. It will be anchored by a small supermarket, will include speciality shops and has space to accommodate a small clinic and a police post.
Like the other buildings in the development, the commercial centre incorporates a number of sustainable initiatives into the design such as orientation and materials. As a response to the cold climate and to meet optimal energy efficiency requirements, the building has been designed to minimise excessive heat loss in winter and heat gains in summer.
The building is designed atop a strategic point in the Polihali village, allowing it to overlook the future dam. After construction, the Polihali Dam will become a primary tourism attraction in the Lesotho Highlands Project area hence the prominence accorded to the location of the lodge. The building design and layout is influenced by the local terrain and site orientation. The aim is to create a welcoming atmosphere to highlight the natural beauty and wonders of Polihali.
Buildings developments in the Phase II project also entail the construction of single quarter housing for LHDA operations staff at the Katse village and the upgrading of Katse Lodge. This is because the water transfer component of Phase II will increase the potential for tourism and more operations staff will be based at Katse due to the increased work load.
Katse Lodge is being upgraded to increase the floor area in some parts and to include staff change rooms, laundry area and workshop for improved convenience. The physical upgrades also include finishes, fittings, furniture and aesthetics with the aim of attaining a 4 Star Rating.
Larger windows and covered terraces will be provided to maximise exposure to the dam views. A multi-purpose fitness centre and conference facilities will also be built.
The Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) is a multi-billion Maloti/Rand bi-national project, which was established by the treaty of 1986 signed between the governments of the Kingdom of Lesotho and the Republic of South Africa.
The project’s main purpose is to harness the water resources of the highlands of Lesotho through the construction of a series of dams and tunnels to deliver water to South Africa and at the same time, to utilize the water transfer infrastructure to generate hydropower for Lesotho.
Like the majestic Mohale Dam, which was built during Phase I, both the Polihali Dam and the saddle dam will be concrete faced rockfill dams, also known as CFRD dams.
Mohale is a large dam, 145m high and the largest of its kind in Africa at the time it was built. Almost 8 million cubic metres of rock formed the embankment and the reservoir the Mohale Dam created has the capacity to hold 950 million cubic metres of water at its full supply level.
Polihali Dam will be bigger.
The embankment will stand 165m high, have a crest length of 921m and a crest width of 9m. At its base, the embankment will be 470m wide. Over 13 million cubic metres of rock which will be quarried locally within the dam basin will be compacted to form the embankment. The dam will create a reservoir on the Senqu and Khubelu rivers with a surface area of 5 053 hectares and a full supply storage capacity of 2 325 million cubic metres. The Polihali dam infrastructure includes a spillway, a compensation outlet structure, a small hydro power station and a transfer tunnel.
The saddle dam will be 45m high and will have a crest length of 603m and a crest width of 6.5m. Its function is to raise a low point on the reservoir margin to prevent water from by-passing the Polihali Dam.
Just as the water from the Mohale reservoir flows through the interconnecting Mohale Transfer Tunnel to the reservoir at Katse, so will water from the Polihali reservoir flow through the Polihali Transfer Tunnel on its way to Katse, increasing the supply of water to the Katse reservoir and the amount of water available for hydropower generation.
The current supply rate of water from Lesotho to Gauteng will increase at the rate of 780 million cubic metres per annum incrementally to more than 1 270 million metres per annum, as a result of the water volume increase brought about by the construction of the Polihali Dam.
Work on the dam design commenced in 2017 and tender design is expected to be completed during 2019. Construction is expected to start in 2020, with completion and commissioning expected in 2026.
The Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) is a multi-billion Maloti/Rand bi-national project, which was established by the treaty of 1986 signed between the governments of the Kingdom of Lesotho and the Republic of South Africa.
The project’s main purpose is to harness the water resources of the highlands of Lesotho through the construction of a series of dams and tunnels to deliver water to South Africa and at the same time, to utilise the water transfer infrastructure to provide hydropower to Lesotho.
The water transfer component of Phase II comprises a Concrete-Faced Rockfill Dam (CFRD) and saddle dam at Polihali, downstream of the confluence of the Khubelu and Senqu (Orange) Rivers, and a gravity tunnel that will connect the reservoir at Polihali to the Katse reservoir.
In addition, river diversion tunnels will be built prior to the construction of the Polihali Dam.
Just as water from Phase I’s Mohale reservoir flows through the interconnecting Mohale Tunnel to the reservoir at Katse, so will water from the Polihali reservoir flow by gravity through the Polihali Transfer Tunnel on its way to Katse.
The envisaged transfer tunnel will be approximately 38km long with a nominal bore of five metres. Both tunnel boring and drill and blast methods will be used to excavate the tunnel.
The Polihali Transfer Tunnel works also include the intake works and gate shaft at the Polihali reservoir; outlet works and gate shaft at the existing Katse reservoir, with underwater connection to the lake; access adits to the waterway and associated construction infrastructure. Training LHDA staff for the purposes of operating and maintaining the tunnel is part of the skills and technology transfer element of the tunnel project.
Work on the tunnel design commenced in mid-January 2018 and is expected to be completed during 2019. Tunnel construction starts in 2020, with completion and commissioning expected in 2026.
The diversion tunnels for the Polihali Dam are to be designed and excavated in advance of the construction of the Phase II main works – the Polihali Dam and Polihali Transfer Tunnel - as part of Phase II’s advance infrastructure.
Diversion tunnels divert water away from the natural river bed to create a dry foundation and work area needed for the construction of a dam. Their construction usually goes along with the building of cofferdam, one upstream and one downstream of the proposed dam, which together allow the river flow to bypass the dam foundation area.
In the case of the Polihali Dam, two diversion tunnels will be constructed to divert the waters of the Senqu River. Building two tunnels will increase the capacity to carry floods and will provide flexibility to work in one tunnel while the river flows in the other one.
The tunnels, one 7m in diameter and almost a kilometre in length, and the second, 9m in diameter and also almost a kilometre long, run parallel to each other from the intake point to the outlet downstream of the dam. The tunnels will be excavated by drill and blast method, and will be supported by rockbolts and shotcrete as required.
The Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) is a multi-billion Maloti bi-national project between the Governments of the Kingdom of Lesotho and the Republic of South Africa which was established by the Treaty of 1986. The Project harnesses the water resources of the Lesotho highlands through the construction of a series of dams and tunnels for the mutual benefit of Lesotho and South Africa, supplying water to the Gauteng region of South Africa and hydropower to Lesotho.
The first phase (Phase I) of the multi-phased project was completed in 2004 and the second phase (Phase II) is currently underway.
Article 8 of the Phase II Agreement determined that the hydropower generation component of Phase II would comprise a pumped storage scheme utilising the existing Katse Reservoir as the lower reservoir and a new upper reservoir in the Kobong valley, or any other scheme to generate hydropower. This determination was made following the initial hydropower feasibility studies which were conducted in 2008 and 2011.
The Agreement further stipulated that the implementation of the Kobong pumped storage scheme was subject to the outcome of further detailed feasibility studies. These further studies would include:
At the same time, these studies were to explore alternative viable hydropower generation schemes that will increase the electricity generation capacity in Lesotho to meet the country’s electricity requirements.
Following an open tender process, in late 2016 the LHDA appointed a Joint Venture comprising EDF (France), GIBB (RSA) and Multiconsult (UK) to undertake the feasibility studies.
The further feasibility studies are nearing completion. The pumped storage scheme option has been deferred due to the prevailing and unfavourable economic conditions and conventional hydropower has been recommended as the more feasible option to meet Lesotho’s energy needs. To this end, the decision was taken to advance the studies for two sites on the Senqu River and one at Oxbow to bankability stage. These studies are expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2019.