The Socio – Economic Rights Programme
Communities affected by Lesotho’s large dams, extractive activities and emerging industries continue to generate community grievances over compensation, development, resettlement, and access to services. Problems associated with these developments affect thousands of people negatively in Lesotho. These challenges range from no clear policies on development, public participation, environmental impacts assessments and regulations that regulate these sectors. Their destructive nature range from pollution, chasms, other un-rehabilitated areas, arbitrary siege of land by companies, unfair and inadequate compensation, absent independent government monitoring, as well as limited or no knowledge regarding these issues by the affected communities.
The Programme focuses on the rights of communities affected by water, dams, and environment and mines to ensure that they are safeguarded through fair and adequate compensation and participation for sustainable development. The programme advocates for justice and respect for the rights of people affected by major capital projects. It operates on the principle that affected communities must derive direct benefits from the resources and have their quality of lives improved for the better.
The program aims to do the following;
- Facilitate outreach activities to create awareness on socio economic rights: Hitherto socioeconomic rights are non-justiciable hence unenforceable as human rights. As such violations of these rights is rampant. It is against this backdrop has intended to raise awareness about these rights. Among important initiatives TRC does to counter this particular challenge are production of education materials about socioeconomic rights and facilitate students moot-courts to popularise the socioeconomic rights.
- Provide capacity building for CSOs, youth and marginalized groups on socio economic rights: with this initiative the Centre basically stimulates ripple effect by training other CSOs about social and economic rights. Engage government line ministries on socio economic rights: it has been indicated that the socioeconomic rights are non-justiciable government agencies also not taking cognizance of the importance to protect them, especially during service delivery. Thus one of the efforts the Centre is putting in place are sensitisation of line ministries as well as non-state actors about the extent of violation these rights and consequences thereof.
- Advocate for equitable communal and individual compensation for affected communities: Lesotho has major capital projects in water and mining sectors. When these projects are implemented properties of local communities (individually and communally) are negatively affected. This is because the capital projects notoriously are in resistance to equitably compensate the affected communities. As result we are of the view that the must be either compensation policy or parliament statute which will bind investors to compensate the communities. Hence one of trc contribution is to advocate for fair and just compensation for all communities affected by capital projects.
- Advocate for environmental and social hazards of capital projects mitigation: As majority of the capital projects are located in rural areas and highlands of the country where communities are not empowered to demand rehabilitation of their environment. The organisation has initiatives which are meant to ensure that mines and dam authorities are held accountable. They are required to provide mitigation measures for environmental hazards caused in the areas. Therefore, communities as well as community organisations need to be strengthened to understand environmental & social impact assessment (ESIA. Community organizations are represented in key decision – making processes from conception to implementation of dams and extractives projects: rationale behind this particular intervention is to ensure that affected communities’ interests also informs decision of authorities. Thus the affected communities must be well represented in all stages (from design to implementation) of capital projects. This emanates from realisation that processes that lead to these projects are oftentimes exclusive, as interests of multinational investors only those that are considered in the final decisions.
Advocacy for participatory national compensation policy: Lesotho has no standard compensation policy, hence Lesotho Highland Water Project (LHWP) compensation policy hitherto is used as a benchmark of all capital project established in the country. The LHWP policy has a lot of problems as it has been criticised for being against community interests. The purpose with this advocacy is to facilitate for legislation of standard participatory national compensation policy.