Environmental impact assessment workshop held at LCN
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On 13 November LCN held an Introduction to Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) workshop. This was the first of a series of workshops developed and presented by Ms Frances Howe, LCN's Natural Resource Management Advisor working with LCN through Australian Volunteers International (AVI). Frances has managed EIA projects in the Asia-Pacific region, Middle East and Africa.

The workshops will form part of a programme of capacity building in environmental and project management for LCN staff and member organisations, which will continue until March 2015. A group of ten delegates, with varying degrees of knowledge and experience of EIA gathered in the LCN boardroom for the three hour session.
Mr Thato Konstabole welcomes delegages to the event Ms Frances Howe delivering the EIA presentation

Frances, with input from Mr Thato Konstabole, LCN's Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources Coordinator, began by discussing the purpose and context of EIA. The workshop briefed delegates about both Lesotho's environmental legislation about international guidelines for environmental and social performance. Participants felt that this was essential information, but the discussion really got underway when the topic moved towards identifying the essential elements of an EIA and the methods and frameworks that can be used to complete a robust study.

Delegates were able to relate the information to local projects where an EIA had not been effectively carried out, and described the resulting environmental and social consequences. Frances used these examples to stress the need for thorough stakeholder engagement throughout the project, and for a clear project description that gives sufficient information to assess the potential project impacts. The workshop emphasised the importance of rigorously assessing both positive and negative impacts, and the need for the EIA report to remain transparent and objective at all times.

At the end of the workshop, all agreed that the session was extremely beneficial and thanked LCN for hosting the workshop. A participant commented that if civil society organisations were to become a meaningful voice of the people and engage effectively with the public and governments they needed to become more knowledgeable and improve their environmental and project management skills. She welcomed the continuation of the workshops, which will be held every two weeks at LCN.

Frances said 'I'm delighted to combine my international experience of EIA with the local knowledge of passionate people working to improve environmental performance in Lesotho. In sharing my skills through these ongoing workshops I hope to help build the capacity of our civil society organisations in holding developers and the government accountable to their environmental and social commitments'.

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