|»Environment & Resettlement|
The key Biophysical Impacts of the Maguga Reservoir are outlined as follows:
The Impact on Vegetation
The vegetation surrounding the reservoir comprises of different habitats namely forests, thicket, closed grasslands, as well as closed and open woodlands. In total, 643 indigenous plant species have been recorded in the Maguga Dam Basin. These represent about 20%of Swaziland's known flora.
Furthermore, the reservoir resulted in the loss of plant species used for timber. In total about 77 000m3 of timber was lost due to inundation. Of this 800m3 is Kiaat that is used for furniture and carving. Aside from these plant species, other plants species threatened by the reservoir were of medicinal value. The local residents therefore consulted herbalists on the medicinal plants found in the area and these were trans-located and propagated in a community owned nursery.
The Impact on Birds
The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) indicated that a total of 195 species of birds were found in the area to be inundated by the reservoir. The species composition varied according to habitat - 44% were woodland species, 20% grassland species, 17% forest and 12% wetland species. Of these 86% are resident or present throughout the year. A total of thirteen (13) bird species are endemic to Swaziland, Lesotho and South Africa and nine of these species have red data status for the aforementioned countries.
The Impact on Mammals
About forty six (46) mammal species were identified in the inundation zone compared to the total of fifty two (52) species found in the whole of Swaziland. One species, the woodland mouse, had never been found in Swaziland. A further eight (8) others had never been recorded before in the Middleveld of Swaziland and three (3) of these had been listed as "practically extinct outside reserves". They are the Cape Hydrax, Grey Duiker and the Grey Rhebuck..
The Impact on Reptiles and amphibians
The Maguga Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) indicated that thirty four (34) reptile species and twelve (12) amphibian species were resident in the area to be inundated. Reptiles, such as crocodiles, snakes and lizards such as the chameleon, are feared by residents. This fear and the accompanying threat to these species is compounded by beliefs and superstitions that result in them being used by traditional healers. Of all the reptile species found at Maguga, the Swazi Thick Tailed Rock Gecko and the Barberton Girdled Lizard are two noted to be of significant conservation value. These species had to be caught and released in suitable habitats outside the inundation area.
The Impact on Fish
The fish community of the Komati River is dominated by species adapted to flowing water conditions. In total twenty two (22) fish species were recorded at Maguga and two (2) of these species would be critically threatened by the creation of the reservoir. These were the Phongolo Rock Catlet (Chiloglanis emarginatus) and the Incomati Rock Catlet (Chiloglanis bifurcus). The construction of the dam would also create a major obstacle to the movement of migratory fish species such as eels. With respect to the above mentioned fish species the impact of the dam was regarded as minimal as the species were found in other reaches of the river. The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and mitigation plan specified methods to mitigate the impacts of the reservoir on fish species.
The Impact on Aquatic invertebrate communities
The environmental studies indicated that the creation of the reservoir would alter the temperature of the river. This would impact on the aquatic invertebrate communities (such as bilharzias vector snails, mosquitoes and blackfly) resulting in an increase in their population. The studies therefore proposed methods both monitor and control these invertebrate communities.
The key Social Impacts of the Maguga Reservoir are outlined as follows
Impact on Archaeological Sites
Archaeological visibility in the area inundated was high. A total of twenty (20) archeological sites were recorded, ranging from the Early Stone Age to the Iron Age. In addition to these sites a total of 184 graves were also identified. Given the religious, cultural and traditional practices associated with graves in Swaziland all these graves had to be exhumed and relocated outside the area to be inundated.
Secondly the construction and inundation of the Maguga Dam, impacted on one rock painting site. The rock art/painting was successfully removed and is currently stored at the national museum in Swaziland.
Impact on community health
Large construction projects, such as the Maguga Dam, attract large numbers of people seeking employment. These job-seekers are generally males who leave their partners behind in search of employment. They often find new sexual partners in the job area and this contributes significantly to the spread of STIs/HIV/AIDS. The project therefore put together various ways to curb the spread of STIs/HIV/AIDS.
Firstly, the professional staff of the consultant and contractor were housed at Pigg's Peak rather than in a newly created separate camp. This meant that the professional staff of the Consultant and Contractor could bring their spouses / partners with them. This would help integrate the staff with the residents of Pigg's Peak.
Secondly, the Project committed itself not to house general labourers but rather to source from the neighbouring communities. In this way an employee would sleep at home and only travel to work. This was intended to reduce the chances of employees engaging in new affairs whilst away from home.
Thirdly, a trauma unit manned by a professional medical consultant was setup on site. This trauma unit provided health services to workers, their relatives and the general public. The treatment of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS counselling was a priority at the clinic. Furthermore the Family Life Association of Swaziland (FLAS) was contracted to provide HIV/AIDS education and information to the workforce. A properly constituted, well-equipped and well trained Health Intervention Team (HIT) was setup within KOBWA to work with the Hhohho Regional Aids program to educate and counsel people in the Project area on STIs/HIV/AIDS. This health intervention team was later absorbed by the ministry of health and currently provides training and counselling on HIV/Aids at the Piggs Peak government hospital.
Lastly, to minimise the long term impacts of the project on community health, the project constructed two clinics within the project area. The clinics were handed over to the government of Swaziland for operation and maintenance. The clinics are operational and serve areas even wider than the project area.
Impact on community Employment
The Resettlement and Compensation Policy for Maguga recognised employment in the Project as one of the key positive impacts of the Project. The first people to benefit from it must therefore be the affected people. It is for this reason that general labour was restricted to the Project area. The Komati Community Representative Committee (KCRC) was set up, among other things, to facilitate the employment of local people. The area that the Project concentrated on included Ekuvinjelweni, Nginamadolo, Nsangwini, Mnyokane and Pigg's Peak. At the peak of the construction activities some 1 500 people were employed, 80% of which were from the surrounding areas.