|Overview : |
The Lesotho UNDP Country Office and the the Ministry of Forestry, Range and Soil Conservation (MFRSC) of the Government of Lesotho are implementing a five-year (2015-2020) GEF-financed project “Reducing vulnerability from climate change in Foothills, lower Lowlands and Senqu River”. The objective of the project is to mainstream climate risk considerations into the Land Rehabilitation Programme of Lesotho for improved ecosystem resilience and reduce vulnerability of livelihoods to climate shocks. The project is supporting the integration of climate change adaptation into national and sub-national land use planning and decision-making.
Climate change – including rising temperatures and a greater frequency of droughts and extreme rain events – are negatively affecting local communities living in rural parts of Lesotho. The fragile mountain ecosystems of Lesotho provide a range of benefits that increase the resilience of such communities to climate change. These include regulating services such as storing and retaining water as well as mitigating floods. However, these ecosystems are characterised by widespread degradation because of unsustainable land management and exploitation of natural resources. The effects of this ecosystem degradation in Lesotho include loss of vegetative cover and extreme soil erosion. Such effects reduce the capacity of these ecosystems to protect vulnerable communities from the increasingly negative impacts of climate change that are threatening their livelihoods.
The preferred solution to the climate change problem facing Lesotho is to strengthen the resilience of climate-vulnerable communities by: i) enhancing the capacity of government institutions and local communities to mainstream climate change risks into policies, plans and programmes; ii) implementing climate-smart ecosystem rehabilitation and management measures using a community/household based approach; and iii) establishing a system for monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of various approaches to climate change adaptation to inform a process of adaptive management.
The project is being implemented in Southern Lesotho in Mohale’s Hoek District, specifically in the three Community Councils of Lithipeng, Khoelenya and Thaba Mokhele. These community councils have been selected because they provide a continuous stretch of the Lowlands, Foothills and Senqu River Valley. The approach for selecting participating villages was watershed/catchment-based, in accordance with on-going criteria utilised by the MFRSC in selecting participating communities in the Land Rehabilitation Programme.
The technical staff of the MFRSC and relevant departments of line ministries, land managers and communities have received / are receiving different forms of training on climate change adaptation, climate science and planning, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and management of ecosystems. There is also a socio-economic unit (SEU), that has been established whose role is to consider social capital issues in the selection of interventions.