Experience of EIA follow up in Lesotho.
Environmental Impact Assessment (El A) is a process that is widely practised as it assists in decision-making and also helps to overcome the environmental problems that could result from development activities. However, the focus is still on EIA as a process and less on EIA follow-up. EIA follow-up is taken to mean the activities, such as monitoring and auditing, that are carried out after the Record of Decision has been made, although the importance of establishing EIA follow-up early in the project cycle is emphasised in this thesis. In most countries, EIA follow-up is not legislated and whilst it is generally recognized as important it is not widely practised. This thesis is aimed at assessing the status of EIA follow-up in Lesotho. Nine development projects were selected and their reports; Environmental Impact Assessment Reports (EIRs), Environmental Management Plans (EMPs) and auditing reports were analysed to determine if there was provision for EIA follow-up. Four criteria were utilised in the analysis. These were: the impacts that were predicted and mitigation measures proposed, the provision made for EIA follow-up before the implementation of the project, the impacts that were experienced and the mitigation measures that were put in place and the EIA follow-up process that was undertaken, and the people responsible for it. All projects had undergone an EIA process, except for one which did not have an EIR prepared, viz. C& Y garment factory at the Thetsane industrial site. Of the remainder, four projects contained provision for EIA follow-up, although in most case studies follow-up focused on the construction phase and little was stated about the implementation of follow-up. Generally, an environmental officer was appointed to monitor the impacts that were experienced and to ensure compliance with the EMP. However, in the Butha-Buthe industrial estate case study, the EIA follow-up process was detailed and specific, even giving the frequency with which EIA follow-up should be undertaken, by whom and how it should be done. This is most likely because it is the most recent industrial estate to be developed and that lessons were learned from previous industrial development sites discussed as case studies in this thesis, where problems were encountered due to lack of EIA follow-up. Apart from the assessment of these reports, questionnaires were also administered to nine environmental consultants practising in Lesotho. Monitoring and auditing were identified as EIA follow-up by the majority of consultants (7 or 78%). Only one person identified it as including public participation, while the other person (11 %) identified it as monitoring, which incorporates EMPs and Environmental Management Systems (EMSs). It was interesting to note that only one person included public participation as part of EIA follow-up, in contrast to the general understanding of EIA follow-up internationally, that the public have a role to play in follow-up activities. One person (1 or 11 %) pointed out that EIA follow-up should start at the planning or design stage, while the majority (89%) stated that it should start after the completion of the EIA process and the Record of Decision, the latter group failing to recognise the importance of collecting baseline data early in the EIA process. Of all the projects, only the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) was observed to implement EIA follow-up, such as monitoring and auditing, on a regular basis. An assessment was also undertaken of the environmental legislation in Lesotho and the provision that it makes for EIA follow-up. Sections 31 and 32 of Part V of the Act specifically give provision for EIA follow-up. It is stated that in order to prevent environmental degradation, environmental monitoring and environmental auditing should be undertaken. Moreover, the Lesotho EIA guidelines (1997) do give guidance and procedures on how EIA follow-up should be undertaken. However, it was found that currently, the Environment Act, 2001 is not operational and that EIA follow-up like the EIA process is undertaken on a voluntary basis. It was therefore recommended that at present, the self-regulatory approach to EIA follow-up is the most suitable one for Lesotho. Recommendations were made to strengthen this approach until such time as legislation is in place or an environmentally aware public can participate in EIA follow-up. Several problems were identified that were hampering the practice of EIA follow-up in Lesotho. These included: the un-operational Environment Act, an environmentally unaware public, few environmentalists and lack of sensitive and dedicated government ministries.