A critical assessment of the impact of involuntary resettlement on the lives of Basotho people : the case study of Lesotho Highlands Water Project, Lesotho.
Sephula, Bakoena Augustine.
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The aim of this research project is to explore the socio-economic and environmental effects experienced by the relocated population at Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP). Large dams are constructed for irrigation, generation of hydroelectricity, consumption and so forth. In the case of Lesotho, the LHWP was constructed with the purpose of selling water to South Africa to earn royalties and generate hydroelectricity. Despite the fact that a number of factors are advanced to justify the construction of large dams, phenomenal experience has shown that the consequences emanating from their construction are sometimes irreversible and painful, for instance resettlement. This research study therefore sought to investigate the socio-economic and environmental impacts experienced by the affected community emanating from LHWP resettlement programme at Ha Thetsane and Ha Makhalanyane; whether the standard of living of resettlees as measured in terms of access to services has improved or not; the extent of their participation in the resettlement programme; their perception on their standard of living; the extent to which the people have adapted to their forced removal from their homelands; investigate the compensation process; and make tailored recommendations concerning the environmental impacts of involuntary resettlement on the lives of the Basotho people. Qualitative approach was used to collect both primary and secondary data. Literature review was undertaken to provide background information to the problem statement, the methodology design, the theories and other factors used to justify the construction of large dams. The existing literature led to a deeper understanding of the impacts of larger dams, reaction towards construction of large dams and Lesotho’s experience regarding the construction of large dams. Interviews were also conducted. The data collected were written into descriptive analysis form. The resettlement programme at Ha Thetsane and Ha Makhalanyane has resulted in both positive and negative impacts. The study has concluded that there is a need to engage all the stakeholders affected by involuntary resettlement through a transparent public participation process; consider more sustainable means of livelihoods; furnish resettlees with information on the options to enable them to make informed decisions; fulfil promises in order to build trust with the resettlees.
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