LHDA shares its 10-year strategy



MASERU – The Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) recently hosted a two-day forum to discuss their 10-year strategy which is to create a sustainable socio-economic benefaction through the development and management of water resources and electricity generation in Lesotho. The Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) is a multi-phase initiative aimed at providing water to the Gauteng region of South Africa and generating hydro-electricity for Lesotho.

The project was established through the signing of the 1986 Treaty by the governments of the Kingdom of Lesotho and the Republic of South Africa. The project involves the utilization of the waters of the Senqu/Orange River in the Lesotho highlands through the construction of a series of dams, with the objective of achieving mutual benefits for both countries. Phase I of the project was successfully completed in 2003 and inaugurated in 2004, while Phase II is currently in progress.

The Chief Executive of LHDA Tente  Tente, highlighted that forums were hosted prior to this one for similar purposes to enlighten  the nation with the progress of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP). The meetings began at Mohale Dam to Butha Buthe, moved onto Katse Dam, then onto Polihali Dam. “The journey began in 2010, alluding to the fact that the LHWP Phase I and Phase II projects are important to the whole Basotho nation and, although the initiative has its risks, it comes with more benefits,” he said.

Mpho Brown, the Public Relations Manager of LHDA, provided a detailed explanation of the background and governance of the LHWP during the forum. He shed light on the primary purpose of the treaty between Lesotho and the Republic of South Africa (RSA), which was driven by SA’s increasing demand for water and the necessity to utilize hydro-electricity resources in Lesotho.

“LHWP is a bi-national project between the two governments. The water transfer component entails the construction of dams and tunnels in Lesotho, enhancing the use of water from Senqu (Orange river) for the benefit of the two countries,” he said, adding that the new strategic goals for the next 10 years are taken to enhancement of inclusive access to water, electricity, and related resources, conservation and restoration of ecosystems, improvement of livelihoods, maximization of commercial opportunities, and management capacity, good corporate governance and accountability.

He added that the Phase II Project faced challenges in implementation, those of which were; domestication, permits, regulatory, community work stoppages, construction delays, site security, and stakeholder engagement: labour relations and community relations, disinformation, and lastly, limited oxbow mandate, funding.

The LWHP is at a critical stage in its lifecycle where Phase II of the project is accelerating into full gear, and has focused more on project implementation, hence a new strategic approach. This approach is driven by the desire to protect the environment and the ecosystems that nurture sustainability for the project, as well as well-being of the communities that are directly and indirectly served and impacted by the project.

Among successes LHDA has highlighted includes the construction of toilets and installation of water taps for 125 households. It has compensated around 2 600 community members with M30 million due to project impact. Additionally, they have undertaken soil erosion control measures and built terrains to enhance the longevity of dams. From 2019 to the present, a total of M29 billion has been allocated for these projects, with at least 10,000 individuals employed to carry out the necessary tasks.

Nevertheless, challenges such as delays in compensating funds and in implementing community development infrastructure projects like water tap construction and electricity installation have been encountered as the main challenges that LHDA is working on.

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