Bank identifies risks it will manage in dam project
Involuntary resettlement and indigenous peoples are the two social issues the Asian Development Bank (A.D.B.) will pay attention to, should the proposed multi-purpose dam project at Alaoa go ahead.
The project, which would be a flood protection, seasonal water supply and hydropower plant has been proposed for land above the Alaoa Water Treatment plant, and works to test its feasibility began early last year.
The ADB’s Initial Poverty and Social Analysis for the dam, dated 14 January 2019 outlines how consultation and participation, gender and development, social safeguards and other social risks will be addressed during project design.
The analysis is a mandatory report, which “determines the scope of poverty and the current state of social issues.” The report explores not only how the project will impact poverty reduction, but also gender and development and the participation and empowerment potential of the project.
Two ‘social safeguard’ issues are addressed: involuntary resettlement and indigenous peoples.
On the former, the report states that the dam project will be built on existing Government-owned land, but that some gardens and crops belonging to land users could be affected.
“There is no existing land use by surrounding communities except occasional firewood gatherings and subsistence fishing.
There are alternative sources of these resources within the Government-owned land, which would potentially replace any anticipated restriction to access within the project site. This will still be further confirmed during ensuing survey and due diligence,” it states.
The report does not believe the Alaoa Dam will directly or indirectly affect indigenous peoples, and has not noted any action to be taken with regards to indigenous peoples.
ADB senior external relations officer, Sallyanne Shute-Trembath, said that according to ADB safeguards as Samoans are the dominant culture and social/political group of Samoa, they are not considered “indigenous,” so those particular safeguards do not apply.
“ADB is committed to ensuring that stakeholder concerns are heard and addressed, which is why ongoing safeguards assessments are confirming all impacts to all affected persons,” she said.
Consultations with villages around the area concluded last week, and will continue next month with civil society and non-government organisations.
But the report does state that in adhering to core labour standards, the spread of communicable diseases will be two other risks to be considered in the project design, and adds that a social development and gender specialist has been engaged to prepare a consultation and preparation plan.
The bank also intends to conduct an awareness campaign on the risks of HIV/AIDS, the report states.
“HIV/AIDS infection and other social issues which may affect women are potential risks during construction due to the presence of outside contractors,” the report states.
Ms Shute-Trembath said HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention programs are a requirement for any construction of multilateral development bank projects, under the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC).
“This is the responsibility of all contractors engaged under FIDIC contracts. Hence, part of the due diligence for the project is to examine these risks, and recommend mitigation measures to prevent them from happening to both the contractors and locals,” she added.
Following the first consultations with families from the Alaoa dam proposed site area, the ADB listed a tender for a stakeholder and community consultations specialist on October 20 last year. The advertisement was extended twice and expired on November 9 last year. Leaupepe Satui Bentin has been appointed by the ADB to the role.
Leaupepe has over 10 years’ experience in consultancy work on climate resilience policy and community development for Samoa and in the Pacific, according to her Pacific Climate Change Portal profile.