Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2023

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Environmental Studies


John Van Buren


Water insecurity in underdeveloped countries is one of the most pressing issues for the longevity of our exponentially developing global economy. Countries like Lesotho, which are land-locked within another, more developed country, have few resources for water, food, and power without the aid of external forces. This paper investigates the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP), its relationship to South Africa, and the ramifications faced by local communities. Further, this paper can serve as a case study into what we can avoid in the future, as water initiatives are both inevitable and crucial. Chapter 1 explores quantitative data regarding water scarcity in Lesotho and South Africa, and lays the groundwork for why this water project was initially established. Chapter 2 explains the history of LHWP and the timelines it promised versus those it fulfilled. This chapter also models the pitfalls that the Basotho and South African national governments demonstrated when creating this agreement. Chapter 3 focuses on the economic consequences of the World Bank’s involvement, something that remains controversial within what could be a strictly binational agreement. Information about Lesotho’s domestic economy is also provided. Chapter 4 delves into the displacement and resettlement of local communities and the degradation in living standards they’ve absorbed, although they were guaranteed the opposite. This chapter also considers that many of LHWP's shortcomings are rooted in the reparations themselves, not necessarily the motives of the initiative. Chapter 5 proposes policy reforms for these reparations and how to best move forward regarding aid to underdeveloped areas while avoiding extractive capitalism.