His Majesty King Letsie III of Lesotho, FAO Special Goodwill Ambassador for Nutrition, toured several project sites in Lesotho’s Mafeteng and Thaba-Tseka districts where the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is implementing activities to restore ecosystem services and improve food and nutrition security.
“I am happy with the work of FAO in the communities. I see a change in the lives of the people where the project was implemented, and the testimonies from the farmers themselves are a confirmation. Better nutrition has improved relations in households. I wish the achievements of the project could spread to the whole country,” King Letsie III said. “I am proud to have a special relationship with FAO”
The project “Strengthening Capacity for Climate Change Adaptation through Support to Integrated Watershed Management in Lesotho” was funded by the Global Environment Fund (GEF) through the Least Developed Countries Fund.
The project has strengthened climate change adaptation through improved watershed management. Implemented since 2015, it has promoted the protection of land and water resources through an integrated approach and strengthened and diversified the livelihoods of the most vulnerable people so that they can better respond to climate change impacts.
It has benefited local communities in the most vulnerable livelihood zones by rehabilitating their rangelands and water sources and making them realize notable and progressive improvement in their production systems, especially in homestead vegetable production. As a result, communities produce enough fodder and have access to water both for their livestock and household use. Nutrition has improved, and they have been supported to engage in other income-generating activities to diversify their livelihoods.
During the visit, King Letsie III inaugurated water storage reservoirs and animal drinking points constructed under the project to facilitate access to water for communities and their livestock owners. He commended FAO work in improving the lives of the communities and urged the communities to sustain the gains.
Availing water to reduce vulnerability
I see change in the lives of the people where the project was implemented, and the testimonies from the farmers themselves is a confirmation
Lesotho faces fragile and substantially degraded soils and disappearing vegetation. Farmers rely on rainfall for food production and for their livestock. FAO built infrastructure to help vulnerable communities access to water through simple and appropriate water harvesting technologies such as groundwater dams, roof water tanks, earth dams, and animal drinking points.
The farmers now have access to water to grow fodder for their livestock which has improved productivity.
“Conserving the rangelands has helped water recharge, and catchments have enough water for livestock and households. We now have healthy springs. We were trained to manage the rangeland including removing invasive shrubs that outcompeted the growth of desirable and palatable grass species,” said Serobanyane Matete, Linakeng village Chief in Thaba-Tseka.
Better nutrition for healthy households
The benefiting households received chicken, rabbits, pigs, and assorted vegetable varieties to improve the household’s dietary composition.
“We were trained to grow diverse varieties of vegetables in keyhole gardens and under shade, net covers all year round. Our families now eat a balanced diet – eggs, meat, and vegetables. Conflict in households has reduced drastically,” said ‘Mamokeretla Sebeta of Matlatseng village in Thaba-Tseka. “Our husbands and youth no longer want to move to urban areas to look for work because the project introduced us to income-generating activities that are more profitable,” she added.
In a bid to reduce the burden on the environment, farmers were equipped with skills to engage in other income-generating activities such as beekeeping. Beekeepers received essential equipment used in their work such as beehives, protective gear, a swarm catcher with a telescopic handle, bee smokers, draining sieves, a bee brush, and honey extractors.
The project also strengthened the technical capacity of national and district-level staff and institutions on sustainable land and water management and climate-resilient livelihood strategies.
The 4-year project worked with partners in the country including the Ministry of Forestry, Range and Soil Conservation, Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Ministry of Energy and Meteorology, Ministry of Water Affairs, Ministry of Local Government, and Chieftainship, Department of Environment, and the National University of Lesotho.