By: Reitumetse Mahloane

Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) held a forum at Manthabiseng Convention Centre, to discuss and present its vision for the next 10 years, which is to create sustainable socio-economic beneficiation through the development and management of water resources and electricity generation.

The Chief Executive of LHDA Tente Tente, highlights forums hoasted prior to this one, of 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.

LHDA Public Relations Manager Mpho Brown, walked the forum through with the background and governance of the LHWP, giving insight on the foundational motive of the treaty between Lesotho and the Republic of South Africa (RSA) as having had a need for water, wherein Lesotho had rising need to harness hydro-electricity.

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. Brown emphasizes that because of the initiative, Lesotho is able to receive royalties, which is one of the main purposes of the initiative.

LHDA’s new and refined strategic goals for the next 10 years are taken up as the following; Enhancement of inclusive access to water, electricity, and related resources. Conservation and restoration of ecosystems, improvement of livelihoods, maximisation of commercial opportunities, and management capacity, good corporate governance and accountability.

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 to maximise benefits that promote the well-being of the communities that are directly and indirectly served and impacted by the project.