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 will require the acquisition of land from local communities. Most of 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. read more
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:
- identify and confirm all affected households;
- register affected land and assets;
- determine compensation entitlements; and/li>
- establish relocation and livelihood restoration preferences.
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 made 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.