Our case study examines on the World Bank’s role in facilitating economic growth in developing nations. Specifically, we would like to focus on the World Bank’s participation in the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP), an ongoing effort to supply South Africa’s urban centers with water from the less-developed rural nation of Lesotho by building multiple dams along the Orange River. Throughout its implementation the project has stirred up controversy over the displacement of local inhabitants and its potential environmental impact. Moreover, repeated accusations of corruption have plagued the project further since the early 2000s. That said, plans to move forward with later phases of the project remain in the works. The LHWP provides a telling example of the inherent tension in many of the World Bank’s development projects between the organizations ‘big picture’ approach and the unforeseen ramifications for specific regions and communities. We will address each side of the debate, examining both the World Bank’s function and ambitions, as well as the local consequences and backlash resulting from its policies.
Readings From Lechner & Boli: 22,23, and 27