Governance of the Low Hazard Small Dams (LHSD)
M. Ho Ta Khanh
The governance includes the funds, the operating, the surveillance and maintenance and the impact on the environment of the structures, besides the administrative issues. Small dams present some specific issues compared to large dams, probably more in the domain of governance than in the technique.
The specific issues concerning the LHSD maintenance concern generally the too often imprecise or fragmented knowledge of the construction data, the ignorance of the historic and the evolution of the structure, the absence of the monitoring if necessary and the characteristics often rudimentary of the conception and the construction.
The sociological issues are generally less difficult to address for the LHSD than for the large dams (resettlement of the population, implication of the shareholders, etc…).
The technical constraints, alternative options and cost issues must be carefully explained to the communities so that agreement on the location and capacity of the dam, are agreed at the outset. The interest and implication of the population are central to ensure the sustainability of the LHSD projects.
Managing a LHSD represents a cost and some owners don’t always take it into account during its planning. This cost is a global cost which has to include the sustainability aspect, the social aspects underlined by the World Commission on Dams and the biodiversity aspects.
In many developing countries, there are very often many deficiencies in the organization of the LHSD governance which are often the main cause of the observed incidents or accidents and which have led sometimes to the abandon of the project. The owners should then devote a great care to the organizational and institutional issues raised by the LHSD before their realization.
In consequence, to address the defects, a good organization for the governance of the LHSD should be based on the following preliminary decisions:
- to define clearly and to organize an entity responsible for the maintenance, operation and surveillance at local level and a control entity at the regional or national scales responsible for gathering the surveillance information and providing any needed help to the local entity.
- to prepare a clear and concise definition of corresponding duties and obligations,
- to organize periodically a training course for the staff in charge of small dam surveillance,
- to allocate a budget for the dam surveillance, at least expenses for their periodical visual inspection by the local staff.