Driekoppies Dam

Biophysical

The Driekoppies Environmental Task Group (DETG) was established to guide the process of employing Integrated Environmental Management (IEM) procedures to integrate environmental considerations into the planning, design, construction, operation and maintenance of Driekoppies Dam. This action was meant to ensure that the quality of the environment will be protected regarding maintenance of the welfare of persons and communities immediately affected by the dam. The necessary actions were also taken to encourage all interested and affected parties to become involved in decision taking.

However, it should be kept in mind that the scope, approach and process of environmental impact assessment have developed considerably in the past few years and are far more rigorous than those employed at Driekoppies Dam. While KOBWA believes that the environmental processes carried out were more than adequate, although there may be facets of the investigations that may seem marginally adequate to the interested observer.

Special care was taken to address the various environmental issues in the widest sense during both the construction period and the subsequent rehabilitation by landscaping and re-vegetation at the dam site. This was applied equally in the borrow areas where construction material was removed above full supply level and areas used for the disposal of surplus construction materials and waste. Particular attention was also given to assessing the instream flow requirements in the Lomati River, in terms of both sustained low flow and freshets (little floods) for maintaining the reverine ecology.

Social

The responsibilities of each Party to the Treaty includes the provision, free of third party interests, of all land required for the construction, operation and maintenance of the dam, appurtenant works (measuring weirs, access roads, etc.) and reservoir. This is interpreted to mean that the RSA Department of Water Affairs and Forestry and the Swaziland Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy, the respective Regulating Authority (RA), were responsible for the relocation and compensation of all parties affected by the construction, operation and maintenance of the development (more properly defined as the socio-economic environmental issues). This aspect required close co-operation between the various organizations involved in the implementation of the Phase 1 development.

A Social Impact Assessment for Driekoppies Dam was carried out by the Human Sciences Research Council in 1992, from which the Relocation Action Plan (RAP) was developed and agreed by all parties. This Relocation Action Plan, set out the objectives and methods by which relocation and compensation would be addressed, with the stated primary objective that any affected individuals or communities should be better off through the compensation process than they were before project implementation. For the Swaziland portion of the reservoir area, all matters of environmental nature had to be dealt with to the satisfaction of the Swaziland Environment Authority (SEA). The Environmental Impact Assessment (social aspects) were addressed by KOBWA, where these had not been specifically addressed by the Regulating Authority.

As can be expected, the essential components of acceptable relocation and compensation are, apart from fair and reasonable monetary valuations, good communications, frequent consultation and even more frequent assurance of fair compensation. The process required a minimum of three rounds of negotiations with each affected party.