HIS Majesty King Letsie III is impressed with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO’s) assistance to Basotho.
The King, who is also the FAO Special Goodwill Ambassador for Nutrition, said this after touring the Strengthening Capacity for Climate Change Adaptation through Support to Integrated Watershed Management in Lesotho project sites in Mafeteng and Thaba-Tseka this week.
The project was funded by the Global Environment Fund (GEF) through the Least Developed Countries Fund. The project has strengthened climate change adaptation through improving watershed management since 2015.
In the said sites, FAO is implementing activities to restore land and water resources to improve food and nutrition security.
“I am happy with the work of FAO in the communities,” His Majetsy said.
“I see change in the lives of the people where the project was implemented, and the testimonies from the farmers themselves is a confirmation. Better nutrition has improved relations in households. I wish the achievements of the project could spread to the whole country. I am proud to have a special relationship with FAO.”
During the visit, the King unveiled water storage tanks and animal drinking points constructed under the project to facilitate access to water for communities and their livestock.
He commended FAO’s work in improving the lives of the communities and urged the villagers to sustain the gains.
It has seen the promotion and protection of land and water resources through an integrated approach in strengthening and diversifying the livelihoods of the most vulnerable people so that they can better respond to climate change impacts.
It has benefited vulnerable local communities by rehabilitating their rangelands and water sources and making them realise notable and progressive improvement in their production systems.
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As a result, communities are now producing adequate vegetables and 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 due to the project, the villagers said.
Serobanyane Matete, the area chief of Linakeng in Thaba-Tseka, said the programme had positively changed the villagers’ lives.
“Conserving 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,” Mr Matete said.
At inception of the project in 2015, households received chickens, rabbits, pigs, and assorted vegetable varieties to improve the household’s dietary composition.
‘Mamokeretla Sebeta of Matlatseng village in Thaba-Tseka who benefited from the project said that the project helped her add a variety of meat to her family’s diet.
“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.
“Men and youth in our village 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,” Ms Sebeta said.
To reduce the burden on the environment, farmers were equipped with skills to engage in other income generating activities such as beekeeping.
Beekeepers received beehives, protective gear, swarm catchers with telescopic handles, bee smokers, draining sieves, bee brushes 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.
FAO worked with different partners including the Forestry, Range and Soil Conservation Ministry, the Agriculture, Food Security and Marketing ministry and the National University of Lesotho (NUL) among others.