Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear
..
. Earth Science News .




WATER WORLD
Lesotho dams bring investment, at a cost
by Staff Writers
Ha Makhale, Lesotho (AFP) June 5, 2012


On a dusty mountaintop in Lesotho, Mamoliehi Tsapane beats sorghum with a wooden stick, the white grains popping from the husks over a bright green tarp.

Just beyond her backyard, a Chinese construction company is blasting the mountain, carving out the base of what next year will become the 73-metre-high Metolong Dam.

Commissioned by Lesotho, financed by Western and Arab agencies, and built by China's Sinohydro Corp, the dam is just one example of the international interest in capitalising on the crystal-clear water in this tiny mountain kingdom surrounded entirely by South Africa.

The building boom has generated billions of dollars in investment, but also changed the landscape and uprooted entire communities.

"I have no idea when or if we will be moved," said Tsapane.

"I wouldn't mind moving because we are close to the dam. I feel my life would be in danger. But at the same time, I feel like I have all this property here, and I doubt I would be compensated fairly."

Thousands of people have already been moved to make way for two dams over the last decade, part of a South African network of reservoirs and tunnels to divert water from Lesotho into the rivers that nourish Johannesburg.

The two countries are preparing to build the $993 million Polihali Dam to augment the system, with two more dams mooted.

The investment is equivalent to nearly half of Lesotho's national economy, and the construction is expected to boost economic growth by one third, from four percent in 2011 to 5.9 percent in 2013.

Last year Lesotho signed a separate deal with a South African construction company for a $15 billion water and energy project, financed by undisclosed Chinese firms. Work on the first phase is due to start later this year.

Most of the water and electricity produced will go to South Africa, which does not have enough of either.

Lesotho needs the money. Aside from some diamond mines and textile factories, the landlocked kingdom has no other exports. The dams are also expanding access to running water and electricity in a nation where these are luxuries.

The construction work also generates thousands of jobs, meeting a desperate need for work with an unemployment rate of over 40 percent.

But the dams call for complex compromises, at every level of society.

Tsapane has taken in workers at the dam site as tenants, each paying 100 maloti ($12) in rent, earning extra cash for her household -- until the water starts to rise. Then she may be forced to abandon her home and her crops.

"I'm worried about my fields. If I could know where I would be moved to, it would be easier," she said.

-- 'Life was better before' --

People already resettled have complained about the compensation scheme. They were given new homes, usually close to schools, clinics and power lines.

However, they are used to farming and herding and struggle in their new lives.

"My life was better before where I stayed," said Mampai Lesgapa, who was resettled for the Mohale Dam in 2002. "Now things are worse here because I have to buy on a daily basis and I don't have money."

At 62, she lives in a neat neighbourhood of cinder block homes in Ha Seoehlana village. The new homes are close to a main road, giving children a short walk to school.

They have electricity, which she can only afford a few times a month. But her family has no fields, forcing them to sharecrop for local landowners who take half the harvest.

She makes traditional brooms to earn cash, but now has to buy the grass that she once grew herself.

Under the agreement with the dam authority, the families could receive 2,000 maloti a year for 50 years to make up for lost crops.

Many here opted for a lump payout, which they used to start businesses, like a taxi service, said local councillor Lebohang Kolotsane.

"But you'd find if the car broke down, there was nothing to repair it (with)," so the business failed, he said.

Lucy Sekoboto, a lawyer with the Lesotho Highlands Water Commission, said lessons were learned from the first round of resettlements.

"Sometimes it's not easy to please people 100 percent. People were compensated," she said, but added: "If they find life difficult here and there, they start blaming the project. That's why I'm saying you'll never get rid of that, it's natural for people."

The commission says changes have been made to the compensation programme, including making payments ahead of resettlement to help families prepare for their new lives.

There has also been a clean-up in management. The first phase of the South African dam project resulted in convictions of some of the world's largest engineering firms, after massive corruption was uncovered in 1999.

More than 12 multinational firms and consortiums were found to have bribed the chief executive of the project, Masupha Sole, who served nine years in prison.

Metolong is different from the other dams. Its main purpose is to provide water and electricity to people in Lesotho.

Even those benefiting most directly are worried about the social cost.

"The dams are good for us because we are able to get jobs," said Michael Lenka, 51, a mechanic at Metolong.

"It's better if they don't move, it's better here," he said over the din of bulldozers and dump trucks, looking at Tsapane's quiet home.

.


Related Links
Water News - Science, Technology and Politics






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





WATER WORLD
Iran cancels $2 bn dam contract with China: reports
Tehran (AFP) May 29, 2012
Iran has cancelled a $2 billion contract with China to build a hydro-electric dam and handed the project over to its Revolutionary Guards, media reported on Tuesday. "The Iranian Central Bank has rejected the financial package proposed by the Chinese, and the energy ministry has decided to attribute the deal to Khatam al-Anbiya," the industrial branch of the Guards, Energy Minister Majid Nam ... read more


WATER WORLD
Japan agency sorry for comparing radiation to wife

Lithuania launches regional nuclear safety watchdog

Italy's quake-struck north tries to reassure tourists

Ferrari auction to raise money for Italy quake

WATER WORLD
Artemis keeps talking the talk

Nintendo touts games for Wii U GamePad console

Microsoft links Xbox with smartphones, tablets

E3 to showcase big videogame titles, hot trends

WATER WORLD
Monsoon arrives in India, cheering farmers

Lesotho dams bring investment, at a cost

Study finds ferry threat to Hong Kong dolphins

Great Barrier Reef heading for danger: UNESCO

WATER WORLD
Peru needs glacier loss monitoring: dire UN warning

Greenland's current loss of ice mass

Old aerial photos supply new knowledge on glaciers in Greenland

Discovery Of Historical Photos Sheds Light On Greenland Ice Loss

WATER WORLD
EU farming reform caught in budget stalemate

France to ban Swiss pesticide as bee threat

Brazil farmers in legal feud with Monsanto over GM soy

Livestock industry beefs up Illinois economy

WATER WORLD
Hurricane season is here, and FSU scientists predict an active one

Unmanned NASA Storm Sentinels set for Hurricane Study

Toll of Italian earthquakes rises to 25

Japan city watches 'premonitory' signs for tsunami

WATER WORLD
Conflicts hinder Niger, Mali locust control: UN food agency

Somali soldiers train for urban combat in rural Uganda

Sierra Leone's gruesome civil war

Mali deserters in Niger face uncertain future

WATER WORLD
Monkey lip smacks provide new insights into the evolution of human speech

Stanford psychologists aim to help computers understand you better

New Mini-sensor Measures Magnetic Field of the Brain

University of Tennessee anthropologists find American heads are getting larger




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement