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FEATURE STORY

Access to Healthcare, Energy and Skills: Lesotho’s Metolong Dam Empowers a Community

December 1, 2015

World Bank Group

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • With support from the World Bank and other development partners, people who live along the Metolong Dam project area are getting skills training, and access to health care and electricity
  • Skills training has improved the livelihoods of as many as 300 people, and some communities have access to electricity for the first time
  • The project will also provide two-thirds of the population living in the lowlands with clean water throughout the year

MASERU, December 1, 2015 – Mamosala was devastated when she found out that she was HIV positive. As a 35-year-old woman, her worry was not for herself but for her unborn child. Pregnant and living in a rural village in Lesotho, with the nearest health care facility at least five miles away; she wasn’t sure whether she would give birth to a healthy baby.

That’s when she heard about the HIV/AIDS community support group in her village. Every week, at least 20 people in her village meet to discuss how to live with AIDS in a healthy and positive way.

“It is like a family. It’s a group of people who love and care for each other,” Mamosala said. “We take turns in collecting medicines for everyone by going to the clinic and ensuring each member is taking their medication.”

This HIV/AIDS program supports 15,000 community members, providing education and creating awareness among the workforce and community in the project area of the Metolong Dam. It was started by the Metolong Authority under an Environment and Social Management Program associated with the dam, and funded by the World Bank and European Investment Bank.

“Knowing that Lesotho is number 2 in terms of HIV prevalence in the world and the current prevalence rate in the country is 23%, we felt that it was important to manage this pandemic in the project area,” said Ntaoleng Mochaba, Environment and Social Manager with the Metolong Authority. “There is also a component of treatment, care and support.”

While the Metolong Dam and Water Supply Project will provide two-thirds of the population living in the country’s lowlands with clean and abundant water year round for the first time, the Environmental and Social Management component of the project encompasses a lot more than health care, said Marcus Wishart, World Bank task team leader of the project.

“This project went beyond a straight forward investment in new infrastructure,” he said. “I’m proud to say we worked closely with the client to identify opportunities to improve the community in lasting ways and offer a range of project-related benefits that are having a real impact in people’s daily lives.”


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Under the program, 75 villages are being electrified and women like 65-year-old Masebolelo will have a light bulb in their homes for the first time. “I was born and brought up in this village. I never imagined that there would be electricity here especially in my house,” she said. “Without electricity, survival is very difficult. Firewood is not easily available and to buy paraffin it’s very expensive.”

Access to electricity will lower the cost of fuel and provide clean energy to Masebolelo and many others in her community. The $430 million Metolong Dam and Water Supply Project provides water to Lesotho’s lowlands, and also has socio-economic impacts on the people who live there, especially those whose assets and properties were affected by the construction.

Mokhoto, a local Masotho woman, lost 77 trees and an area of 2942 square meters of her land for the dam construction. Through the skills development training for the economically displaced, Mokhoto was one of nearly 300 local people who received training in various income-generating areas. Mokhoto now owns her own nursery, and she said she is economically independent and more secure.

“Before I was just a housewife, the training has changed my life,” said Mokhoto, standing proudly in front of her new nursery. “Today my husband and my entire family help me in the nursery business.”

As the water through the dam flows through the lowlands of Lesotho, it has given women such as Mokhoto independence, Masebolelo access to electricity for the first time, and Mamosala the opportunity to live a healthy life with her children.

As an HIV-positive mother who once feared the consequences for her unborn child, today she smiles.

“As I’m talking to you now, I have a strong baby boy, who is going to school, she said.



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