The village of Mapeleng and the seismic shift:

The village of Mapeleng was affected by the seismic shift in 1995 during the inundation of the Katse dam. As a result of the seismic shift the natural springs dried up and this village lacked access to clean drinking water for 16years. Seinoli Legal Centre assisted this community to lodge a case before the High Court of Lesotho in 2011 to claim restoration of clean water supply for the community.

This community won the battle against Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA). Today Mapeleng community has access to clean drinking water and this has helped alleviate the community from water borne diseases and the struggle of walking long distances to access to clean water.
Despite this victory, this community is still facing many challenges in relation to non- payment of compensation of its grazing land, natural resources and arable land that were affected some 26 years back when Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) was implemented.

LHDA’s non-compliance with its obligations in terms of the 1986 Treaty, the Lesotho 1993 Constitution and the 1986 LHDA Order, has continued to create a huge justice gap which has left the affected communities without access to their basic human rights.

Read More

Fisherman’s tale: The fishing curse

Ha Lejone is one of many communities which had to sacrifice their land for Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP). Katse dam is Africa’s first largest water project which was constructed in 1989 for the purposes of supplying water to the Republic of South Africa and generating hydropower for Lesotho.

The LHWP has stimulated lucrative commercial fish farming deals and projects like Highlands Trout, which undertakes large scale trout production in Katse dam. It has been exporting fish caught in the katse dam to Japan and South Africa over the years.

It is a different reality for local fishermen who claim they have not been benefiting from the dam. The fishermen explain that fishing has become a nightmare for locals.

Two fishermen from Ha Lejone Tumelo Ratjofa and Namane Namane say local fishermen are only allowed to catch fish from the dam if they have fishing licenses which cost M100.00; if they do not have licences, they get arrested and their fishing equipment gets confiscated.

Both fishermen said they have been victims of harassment for catching fish in the dam. Mr Ratjofa has been arrested together with his wife and Mr Namane was shot at.

Namane and Ratjofa believe that their community should be free to fish at any time and not be limited to how many fish to catch; after all, they were told by the LHDA that they were beneficiaries of this project.

Seinoli believes that LHWP should ensure fair distribution of benefits and guarantee better livelihoods for affected communities by improving the economic condition of local fishermen.

Read More