Georg Caspary of Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris which is the research institute of Groupe d'Economie Mondiale and also a leading French public policy economic think tank, has fielded a number of questions for the LHDA’s attention. The research focuses on the integration of social and environmental safeguards in the financing of large dam projects.
Question 5 : What were the
key socio-economic impacts from the operation (e.g. Risks to Public
Health; Loss of infrastructure; Total or partial destruction of
Answer 5 : Socio-economic impacts included as follows:
The major impact of greater significance was Sex Trade particularly in Phase IA. The congestion of a large labour force at one place in the various construction sites resulted in influx of sexual workers thereto and the trade flourished. There were even complaints in newspapers that the more professional city workers were taking the market from the local inexperienced sexual worker and tensions amongst the workers occurred.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) including HIV/AIDS consequently flourished during peak construction activities.
social family life:
The family social fabric was in serious danger of collapse as young women flocked to construction sites for money and a “good” life.
borne out normal family fabric
There were also a number of children borne out of either extra-marital relationships or out of wedlock.
The influx of people rushing to construction corridors for small business enterprises also resulted in overcrowding in nearby villages. This, in turn, led to unhealthy living conditions, as well as unsightly shack development along the corridors.
Sex Trade: There were messages presented on air and in the newspapers about the bad effects of the practice and the public was up in arms discouraging the un-cultural practice by the young women. The public outcry managed to scare off quite a number. Apparently they feared scandalous remarks. That seemed to work because later during construction of Phase IB dams, there was minimal, if not none, of the trade incidences that warranted the public intervention of Phase IA.
HIV/AIDS Awareness Campaigns
Mobile Clinics were set up in the construction sites where increased efforts and campaigns were put into force as construction workers as well as the public, were advised against casual sexual practices. At the same time they were they were given free packages of condoms. Condoms were also freely available for workers in their ablution facilities.
During peak construction activities in Phase IA there was an upswing of general STIs in the highlands because of the influx of the workforce. The effect of this could easily lead to a false conclusion that because of the LHWP, incidences of STIs including HIV/AIDS were on the rise. Studies are now in place to determine the approximate impact of the LHWP in respect of HIV/AIDS and related STIs in the mountain areas. It should also be borne in mind that that the returning migrant labour from the industrial and mining environment in South Africa could have increased incidences of HIV/AIDS. However no studies were in place to determine this fact.
social family life:
Meetings were convened at the local governance where villagers discussed and took it upon themselves at family level to discourage their children and youth to visit workers at construction. This was taken as a morale defense weapon for families and it was effective. If people engaged in dubious activities, it was no longer as openly as it was the case with Phase IA.
The fight against development of shacks was not an easy battle to win during Phase IA. However with improved accommodation and canteen services for the workers in Phase IB, shack development was less significant albeit for a dotted and small number of local village vendors selling fruits and meals for passersby.
Occupational Health and Safety: This was considered for both construction site workers and pedestrians along the corridors of roads construction.
Workers were provided with protected clothing and were afforded medical health care as part of their employment package. There were 24-hour clinics operational in case of injuries. Helipads were created at each project site with efficient coordination logistics with the Trauma Unit in Leribe as well as referral hospitals in South Africa
Safety messages were planted along the corridors of construction to advise the people about imminent dangers once within marked construction corridors.
Labour Issues/Employment Risks : Industrial disputes. Most people who worked at the construction sites had been previously employed in large mining and other industrial companies in the South Africa. The South African companies had brought with them some of the labour force. Disparities in labour wages and associated welfare management resulted in disputes with fatal consequences. Five people lost their lives in the strike over disparities on benefits and working conditions between the local and imported labour force. There was a need to establish a collective bargaining mechanism (Union) that managed the affairs and concerns of the labourers. Such a Union was therefore established soon after the unfortunate incidence of 1994.
Management of labour issues were substantially improved with construction of Mohale dam in Phase IB. The LHDA set up an Industrial Relations Office at site, to monitor the contractor’s issues on labour management. Workers were encouraged to organize a Union where they could channel their concerns for their (concerns) effective coordination and management.
The arrangement facilitated effective monitoring of compliance with labour regulations and procedures as specified in contracts documents.
Establishment of a Recruitment Policy. The affected and local people (those whose property of fields and residence were adversely impacted by the project activities) wanted to be considered first for available employment opportunities at the construction sites. Other Basotho also wished to get an equal opportunity claiming they were also Basotho and should get equally and fair treatment. A decision to centralize the recruitment process was undertaken so that all eligible Basotho could have equal opportunities to work in the Project.
It was agreed that for unskilled labour, the directly affected people would receive first consideration. The semi-skilled and skilled persons would be recruited from within the Project area and Lesotho respectively. Professionals would be sourced from Lesotho, South Africa, SADC region and internationally respectively.
The office dealing with labour disputes also dealt with recruitment issues. In Phase IA, a central recruiting office was established in Botha-Bothe for skilled and semi-skilled workers from outside the local Project area. The unskilled labour was sourced locally. Non local staff was also housed in labour camps together with imported labour.
In Phase IB, Mohale site office served as a recruitment office and a management of labour disputes.
Loss of infrastructure: Loss of infrastructure consisted mainly of accesses, schools and community facilities including small forests of fuel wood
Perhaps the major infrastructure loss experienced was during construction of Mohale dam where villages were uprooted from the reservoir basin to give way for impoundment of the dam. 99 households (approximately 500 people) were resettled to make way for the construction of Mohale dam and tunnel. 222 households (approx. 1,200 people) were resettled in stage 2 of the resettlement programmes. These were families whose residences were very close to the reservoir and were thus at risk.
Upon the resettlement, replacement houses were provided for the displaced people; reservoir crossing in the form of feeder roads (nearly 300km of good gravel) around the circumference of the reservoirs including one vehicular and three foot bridges were provided; 12 schools were replaced as well community facilities, alluded to earlier.
Compensation to the people: The Project has established a trend in compensating people for personal losses resulting from the implementation of the LHWP. Individual households have received cash and cash in kind for various household losses; compensation houses (for resettlement or relocation) of improved standard with bigger windows for more light, vinyl floor tiling, painted interior, ceiling, cooking stoves (coal, paraffin or gas), iron sheet roofing with rain harvesting facilities including a 2,500l tank, ventilated pit latrine, soakway pit and a solid waste refuse plot and a fence around the homestead, were provided.
Affected people were compensated for lost arable land with cash or grain equivalent to an average annual yield harvest or cash for 50 years; replacement houses were provided for lost dwellings; cash was provided for loss of gardens, trees, other structures, such as kraals, storerooms etc; communal assets such thickets of trees, medicinal herbs, wild vegetables, grass, fuel from animal droppings etc. Top- up income for the most vulnerable resettlees for a minimum of 10 years was provided as well a disturbance allowance for the first 3 years of resettling.
The overall aim is to ensure that living standards of the affected people would not be compromised by the implementation of the LHWP in keeping with Treaty stipulation in Artcles 7 and 15 on social and environmental considerations.
Cash : Cash for lost garden land, kraals and other out- buildings, lost arable land of at least 1000 square meters, equated to a field, annual cash compensation for 50 years, the life time of the dam, payment for fruit trees and other trees in the household, settling in cash allowance and minimum threshold payment to ensure that after six years the household has gotten back to the stream of the domestic economic position
Cash-in-kind : Annual compensation of a number (depending on yield per field) of 70kg bags of maize and 1kg beans. Many are currently opting for cash compensation
The generous compensation benefit later resulted in a dependency syndrome where people relied wholly upon the LHDA to sustain their daily needs even claiming a share in royalty funds. The LHDA is trying to wean the people off –compensation dependency through encouraging them to take up compensation lump sums instead of annual payments. The intention is for investment into viable business ventures such as construction of rental accommodation in the towns of Lesotho.
Archeological: Bushmen paintings found at ‘Muela site were secured and kept in a safe custody until a display facility can be provided.
Liphofung Archeological site was discovered during LHWP pre-feasibility studies when Sentelina option was under consideration as a viable route in the LHWP. The area was since demarcated as a significant cultural center.
Palaeontological: Footprints of a dinosaur were discovered at kilometer 2.741 from the tunnel entrance at Ngoajane delivery tunnel. The services of a Specialist were procured to take pictures of the footprints. No excavations were effected due to the fragile nature of the sandstone. As a result, a partial destruction of the legacy was affected.
Palaeotological findings near the Caledon Crossing was also secured and preserved for display when such display facilities will be available.
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