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.
What precisely was done to manage the environmental and social
impacts of the project at the time of construction and at the time of
operation ( e.g. Environmental Management of Construction Site;
Flora and Fauna Conservation and Monitoring Program; Cleaning of the
Reservoir Area, Rehabilitation of the infrastructure…)
of the Environmental and Social Impacts During Construction
There were established teams of Environmental Monitors from the Engineers supervising the Contractors at site and LHDA designated their own professionals. The two teams then met at a monthly coordination meeting to evaluate and assess progress in the effort of complying with agreed standard of performance in respect of minimal disturbance to nature.
Representative of the Resident engineer and his team and the representative of the LHDA Deputy Chief Executive and his team of Managers and Section Heads attended the meeting under the chairmanship of the Deputy CE was chairman. The scribe function alternated between the Consultant’s team and that of the LHDA. An external Audit company was engaged to audit performance on behalf of the Client, the LHDA in this case.
Environmental specifications relating to noise, dust and water pollution, spoil and waste disposal, rehabilitation, accommodation standards, etc, were all included in the tender and contract documents. Supervising Engineers and Contractors were required to employ environmentalists to monitor compliance to specifications stipulated in the contract.
The management of people’s issues during the construction of Katse dam in the 1990s, was less efficient. It was done through the normal local governance structures where the local Chief was informed of activities and in turn, he was expected to inform his subjects about progress and the intentions of the LHWP. At the same time during those early days consideration for environmental and social issues were top priority. Developers were interested only in construction of their engineering designs in record time without much consideration of people’s issues. This stance prompted the first non-governmental organisation (NGO) involvement, namely the Highland Church Action Group (HCAG), to become the voice of the affected people. The relationship between the LHDA and the HCAG was that of indifference.
During the construction of Matsoku weir and Mohale dams in 1998 and 2000 respectively, vital lessons learned from Katse construction activity were engaged to ensure sustainability of the Project. In addition the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) that was undertaken during 1994 –1996 attached great importance in engaging affected communities including NGOs, in the project implementation.
The affected people were invited take active part and they selected representative members who were participants at the scheduled meetings held at construction sites as well as the LHDA co-ordinated project meetings. The meetings provided a forum for exchange of experiences as work progressed.
Members received a sitting allowance from the LHDA for their endeavours.
International NGOs such the Environmental Development Fund, International Rivers Network and the Green Movement, were criticizing the developers of large dam construction for alleged indignation towards the environment and total disregard for the people directly affected by the Projects. The Local NGOs rallied behind the inspirations of the International NGOs.
At the same time local NGOs teamed together to act on behalf of the people affected by the LHWP. They have invariably demanded due recognition by the LHDA as legitimate steakholders in the process. An LHDA - NGO forum was then established that would facilitate exchange of views and opinions in managing the social issues within the project sites.
To help ensure that the construction of the Project met rigorous international standards, Panels of Experts ( PoE) were established to assist in the design and monitoring of the project’s construction components including its environmental and social components. The World Bank Missions (Mission) also played a major role in supervising activities to ensure compliance to agreed schedules. The Mission and the PoE came two times a year for on-site inspections of the works for adherence to policies, procedures, standards and processes agreed upon.
of the Environmental and Social Impacts for effective implementation of
Management of the environment during operation of the reservoirs has evolved to engaging communities to taking ownership of preservation and conservation of the natural environment. This is done through the following strategies:
a) Lesotho Biodiversity Trust Fund for protection and conservation of the Maluti Minnow ( Pseudobarbus quathlambae). It is classified as a critically endangered species and the entire world distribution is restricted only to the Lesotho Highlands.
b) Katse Botanical Garden for preservation and propagation of highlands flora- an education cum ecotourism venture.
c) Highlands Natural Resources & Rural Enhancement Project funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB)- The programme is an Eco-tourism business venture where local communities partake through various ways: growing vegetables for the hospitality institutions, engaging in being tour guides, accompanying fellows for the tourits when they travel deeper into the highlands areas, engaging in small handicrafts business ventures, providing house accommodation, horses and donkeys (asses), thus earning a living whilst taking care of preservation and conservation of the natural resources and safeguarding the tourists.
Two categories of the NGOs had evolved over time from the LHDA-NGO relationship.
In 2002, a working partnership was established between the Lesotho Council of non-governmental organization, LCN-NGO. This is the umbrella body of NGOs in Lesotho. The partnership was over implementing selected aspects of the EAP. There were those NGOs who were committed to advocacy in the implementation of the LHWP. They expressed their wish to participate in furthering the intentions of the EAP. Nine such NGOs received funding to the tune of M3,2million to carry out implementation of aspects of the EAP ranging from Water Safety, Agricultural work, Birth Control, Substance abuse and management, Credit Management. These NGOs supported initiatives of the LHDA.
The other category opted to play a critique role in the EAP implementation. The Transformation Resource Centre (TRC), opted to monitor the LHDA in its effort to implement the LHWP. The situation has since remained.
Cleaning of the Reservoir Area
was only done minimally and particularly in respect of Katse reservoir.
Many of the trees that were in the basin floor were felled away,
addressing both possible eutrophication effects as well creating safe
passage for boating escapades
in the future. The grass along the edges of the river was not attended to.
In the case of Mohale dam, no cleaning of the reservoir area was effected.
silt load monitoring exercise is undertaken at least once in every two
years, to establish possible undesirable impacts silt loading in the
reservoirs. The results would indicate possibilities of dredging-thus
cleaning effect. It is also envisaged that the Reservoir Zoning strategy
under the Integrated Catchment Management exercise will address unwanted
possible ingress into the reservoirs.
Results from the regular monitoring of the water quality and the silt loading will serve as useful input into contemplating modalities and timing of possible decommissioning of the LHWP reservoirs.
Rehabilitation of the Infrastructure
Regras sing of slopes and spoil dumps, gabioning of cut slopes were effectively and efficiently undertaken in all project sites. The POE have also awarded a satisfactory rating to the works.
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