“African lawyers’ fellowship scheme secures top-level support”
The Seinoli (Kingfisher) Project in Lesotho – building on success
18 years ago the earth shook in Mapeleng as the LHDA’s new Katse Dam slowly filled. The resultant geological changes caused ground water to dry up. Chief Khetang’s community was forced to move higher up the mountain. Their water supplies were far away and polluted.
With Protimos support, Chief Khetang went to court and eventually the LHDA conceded that Mapeleng should not have lost its water. The LHDA signed a consent order agreeing to restore the water supply and to pay for the costs of the litigation. Other similarly affected villages are now in the queue for water restoration.
The Ha Lejone Cooperative is one of 66 local community groups formed to receive compensation for its members for their loss of brushwood, fodder and traditional medicines.
They waited for many years to receive that compensation and in July 2012, with Protimos help, they decided to go to court. In October that year, just before the hearing, the LHDA issued an ‘interpleader’, arguing that the overdue compensation should go to the government and not to any of the cooperatives. The Cooperative fought on and the case was heard in March 2014. The Ha Lejone Cooperative won the case – with costs.
Protimos empowers marginalised communities in developing countries to use the law to protect their social, economic and environmental interests.
The fortunes of communities in developing countries are increasingly shaped by their relationships with governments, businesses and other powerful institutions. However, unfamiliarity with legal processes coupled with limited access to qualified lawyers puts them at a significant disadvantage and marginalises them from the development process.
Protimos aims to level the playing field by supporting the professional development of local lawyers and by improving legal systems. In so doing, Protimos develops sustainable legal resources that enable communities to become active and effective participants in their own futures.