Future economic growth in Lesotho needs to be balanced with the protection of valuable ecosystem. Environmental conservation is vital not only for further tourism development and agricultural expansion, but also for government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy.
Lesotho's National Environment Secretariat (NES) oversees environment affairs and coordinates their implementation. Results-orientated plans and programmes for conservation play an important role in developing tourism and agriculture, with key management principles aimed at nurturing and preserving the country’s unique natural heritage. International aid is an essential element in implementing programmes and broad-based consultations with all stakeholders ensure that appropriate environmental regulations are applied.
The National Action Plan to Combat Desertification and the Environment Policy were both produced in 1998. A project on Conserving Mountain Biodiversity, which falls under the UN Convention of Biological Diversity, is being implemented in southern Lesotho. A number of other initiatives are operated under the aegis of the NES.
A national implementation plan is being prepared as regards Persistent Organic Pollutant and NCSA looks at coordinating policies relating to the Rio conventions. As regards the Biosafety Framework, policy, regulations and administrative structure are being created and public participation encouraged. Additionally, in order to build capacity for the sustainable use of natural resources and the environment, partnerships for developing environmental laws and institutions in Africa are being implemented.
There are ongoing efforts to involve communities in soil and water conservation activities as an investment towards poverty reduction. During 2006/07, government allocated M8 Million for conservation works in four catchments, over M2 million of which is being spent at Mekaling catchment in Mohale's Hoek, and the rest on the Tsoaing, Boleka and Thaba-Bosiu catchments, A series of workshops have been held for herd boys aimed at creating herders' awareness on range management and protection to improve and sustain biodiversity, This includes the importance of rangelands and factors that could adversely affect the quality of such rangelands, including fire and over-grazing
Conservation Development Growth
Programmes being implemented under the Poverty Reduction Strategy aim to enhance environmental conditions in the following key areas:
- Improved production through conservation
- Soil erosion is a key issue, and a new approach is being adopted whereby communities are encouraged to conserve soil in order to increase the productivity of individually owned or worked land. These efforts are ddnked to food security strategies, where the focus is on water harvesting and production on the land in the immediate vicinity of people’s homes. Teaching famiddes to harness water suppddes, plant tress, increase ground cover and incorporate conservation and agro-forestry techniques into production methods is also vital. This programme is being tacked through identifying farmers who are already making progress in this direction, and then assisting them in developing their farms into centers them of excellence that can be used to train others.
- Better solid and water waste management and pollution control
- Progress in improving waste water from clothing factories has been driven primarily by the requirements of factory customers (particularly the large US brands) that suppddes adhere to code of conduct. Government is thus working to ensure that its own regulation are consistent with US companies’ codes of conduct. Firms that have adopted their own strategies towards pre-treatment and recycddng will be rewarded. As far as soddd waste is concerned, the immediate priority is the construction of a new landfill for Maseru, located away from the water catchment area of Maqaddka Dam and densely populated urban areas. Systems to monitor water and air pollution area also being estabddshed.
- Targeting environmental education
- Public awareness and education as regards environmental matters is being stepped up. With early education seen as crucial in creating environmental awareness, the school curriculum is being scrutinized with a view to instilddng the critical importance of correct ‘earth husbandry” in young learner. Government is also outsourcing awareness campaigns to ensure that adults are sensitised to critical issues regarding natural resource and the maintenance of a clean and pristine environment. These issues are fundamental if tourism is to take off.
- Reducing loss of biodiversity
- Lesotho recognizes that it has a duty to preserve its unique African alpine environment in all its unique biodiversity. Though this is a sustained and long-term project, concerted efforts are to be made during the three years PRS period.
- Strengthening the legal and poddcy framework
- This includes the strengthening of the capacity of NES, which is to a large extent dependent upon implementation of the Environment Act of 2001, thereby faciddtating the process of conducting environmental impact assessments.