Intentionally holding women back from accessing financial resources such as compensation for affected land is a form of Gender-Based Violence. Thirty-five-year-old woman (name withheld) from the village of Masakong which is currently being affected by the Lesotho Highlands Water Project Phase II says her father received money amounting to M200,000.00 as compensation for their fields, which have been affected by the projects. In an interview with Seinoli, she mentions that when this money was issued, her father did not inform her and her four siblings about the money. Instead, he used the money to build a single-room brick house and purchased furniture for the house.

Figure 2 The house which was built with the money issued for compensation of affected fields.

She continued to mention that she squabbles with her father whenever she requests him to give her money for her late sister’ daughter who is unable to go to school. She furthered to say her father willingly gives his lover this money who occasionally comes to their home.

Mamokoma (not real name) is a single parent to three children, one is disabled, whom because of her predicament, is forced to live with their father. She indicated that the severity of this has mostly been felt by her, her children and her late sister’s daughter as they are assisted by neighboring relatives, with food and other basic needs. When asked how the affected fields contributed towards their means of livelihood, she responded to say they never went hungry as the fields provided them with various foods such as five large bags of maize meal, sugar beans, sorghum, and also grew potatoes.

Figure 1 Victim with her disabled daughter and son photographed above.

In the attempt to get help, she claims to have involved some of the relatives and also reported this matter to the police but there hasn’t been any resolution. The family is yet to receive compensation for affected trees, which she hopes will be allocated accordingly amongst her and her siblings as they did not benefit at all from the money given to his father.

This case is a typical example of Gender-based violence resulting from poor allocation of compensation for affected land, which increases women’s dependency and vulnerability.

Read More

Bearing the costs of construction and the price of water.

Katse Dam is the first Phase of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project which was constructed in 1991 and completed in 1998 on the Malibamats’o River, a tributary of the Orange Senqu River. The communities living around the dam area have experienced several adverse consequences including social disarticulation, dispossession of livelihoods, and cultural alienation to name but a few. One of the glaring issues concerning this project is how the communities no longer have access to water. This past week, the world celebrated international water day, yet the communities in Katse claim not to have access to clean running water. The communities also have to walk long distances to the limited water sources which have been availed to them after losing their natural water resources.

The communities’ natural springs and wells have dried up as a result of the project, which has resulted in perplexing life changes amongst the communities. For 16 years, the village of Mapeleng lacked access to clean drinking water. During the inundation of the Katse dam, the community’s natural springs dried up. The community literally drank from ponds containing unclean water and the entire village suffered from waterborne diseases. 20 years later, the communities that sacrificed to make way for the dam project, continue to suffer immensely.

There is an urgent need to flip the lens towards the needs of communities so as to close the justice gap and safeguard the rights and sustainable livelihoods of communities being affected by large development projects. Project implementors must ensure access to water and sanitation as a preventive measure and a prerequisite for an adequate standard of living.

Water is a critical dimension of sustainable development as articulated in SDG-6 ( Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all) which states that by 2030 that there should be equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all, access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations and the Water Act 2008 justifies that water is one of the most important resources.

Read More

Relocation of Graves: A Cultural Dilemma for Basotho Community

Mr Samuel Molomo expressed concerns over the issue of relocation of graves. He questioned this process from cultural view point. He also considers it very traumatising to families and entire community. When the process is carried-out, the project should be sensitive to traditional practises and customs of Basotho where reinterment ceremonies are concerned.

Read More

Communities’ Right to Free Prior and Informed Consent Ignored in Lesotho-Botswana Water Transfer Scheme

Today we are at Ha Maphonkoane. We have been discussing the communities’ rights to Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). They have a right to participate and to be consulted in all processes and decisions related to the Lesotho-Botswana Water Transfer Scheme.

They have expressed a sense of shock and anxiety at the thought of losing their lands and livelihoods as a result of this project. They are concerned that no official communication has come from the project official. Only 2 villages thus far have reported having visits from L-BWT officials of the 21 villages consulted by Seinoli.

Read More

There are currently 9 communities in Mokhotlong that are affected by the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) Phase II

Out of 9 communities, 4 are facing involuntary resettlement. Members of these communities during interviews by Seinoli Legal Centre expressed their concerns regarding the project which is just at its initial stage.

Mr. Maqebo Tsietsi from Mapholaneng opines that the compensation that communities are receiving is not fair and adequate. He states that the 86 cent/square metre compensation rate has been arbitrarily decided and has no basis compared to the harvest he gets from his fields. Communities are also complaining about the 50-year compensation period, claiming that the Land Act 2010 provides the right to use the land for 99 years. Therefore, they find the 50-year compensation plan baseless hence they reject it.

Community members pointed out that as a result of the project, they no longer have access to natural resources which formed an essential part of their livelihoods. They further expressed their concerns over LHDA’s unreasonable delay in disbursing compensation funds. Despite the fact that compensations are already inadequate, delays in disbursements further aggravate the chilling effect on communities.

The LHDA order of 1986 states that the Authority has the primary duty to ensure that the standard of living of the affected communities does not deteriorate, but rather is maintained or improved. The Order, read together with the Land Act of 2010 provides for prompt compensation even before entry into the property. This means that communities being affected are entitled to fair and adequate compensation.

Read More

A different dimension of the food security issue

A different dimension of the food security issue is addressed by the story of Malehloa Sefao of Ha Rafanyane. Sefao narrated that compensation was calculated and delivered by the LHDA, ultimately cheated them as affected households. The bags of maize that they were offered by LHDA at the beginning of the construction of the dam were far bigger than what they are now being offered. The size of the bag of food supplies they were given has reduced. The bags are far smaller than they used to as illustrated in the picture below. The villagers were first given 50kg bag of maize and now it has been reduced to 25 kg.

Sefao then further noted that three women from the village by the names of Mateboho Motsamai, Mathabiso Mohobane and Manyatso Seafo used to run a gardening project but their garden was swallowed by the dam. These women supplied freshly grown vegetables from their garden which villagers now have to travel longer distance to purchase.

Read More

Nkhono Manthabiseng Boi 

Nkhono Manthabiseng Boi is a 90 year old resident of Ha Lesaoana. Prior to the construction of the dam, she had fields from which she harvested several crops including maize, pumpkin, beans and peas. On average she harvested six bags of maize annually and now she is only receiving 2 bags of maize for her lost fields which she says no longer sustains her and the family throughout the year.

Nkhono Manthabiseng said she ultimately opted for cash compensation thinking it would change her situation for the better. Sadly, this did not help her situation at all as the M2, 000 she now receives as cash compensation still falls far short of meeting the food needs of her entire family for a whole year.

The famous and beautiful white gold of the mountain kingdom has left many landless and in great poverty wondering what tomorrow holds for them (hopeless).

Read More