Pipe Dreams

Ryan Hoover
Monday, October 1, 2001

The World Bank’s Failed Efforts to Restore Lives and Livelihoods of Dam-Affected People in Lesotho

While the Lesotho Highlands Water Project increased the fortunes of the nation’s elite, the majority of Lesotho's citizens were not able to cash in on the LHWP. In total, approximately 1.5 percent of Lesotho’s citizenry is directly affected by the project. It weakened local economies and severely strained the social fabric of nearby villages. Despite a long-term compensation program, huge amounts of resources devoted to “rural development,” and many good intentions, the welfare of affected people has been compromised – perhaps irrevocably.

Have the millions of dollars invested in compensation and development programs lent credence to proponents’ claims that the LHWP is global “best practice” and “Africa’s biggest ongoing success story,” or is the scale of the impact so great that Highlands communities will never fully recover? This paper focuses on the impacts to the people who sacrificed so much to this project and describes the outcome of the efforts taken to prevent them from becoming victims of “development.”

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