‘Revamp development model for rural areas’


. . . NGO spotlights impact of infrastructure projects on villagers


MASERU – The Founding Director of Bana Ba Thari Corporation (Pty) Ltd. (BBTC), Thabo Makara, sent a letter to the Portfolio Committee on Natural Resources, Tourism, and Land Clusters on April 23, urging the government to legislate support for communities impacted by large infrastructure projects. Bana ba Thari Corp. (Pty) Ltd. (BBTC) is a local non-profit organisation dedicated to maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem  balance, infrastructure, tourism and community development, as well as skills training, among other initiatives.

In a recent interview, Makara said such legislation would ensure community needs are prioritised in development projects. He said project developers often abandon the community upon completion, leaving behind problems. “It is crucial for Basotho to remember that Parliament’s primary role is to protect their economic and social well-being. It acts as the government’s watchdog, ensuring national interests are executed properly,” he said.

During his presentation to the committee, he argued for a model that encourages rural communities to thrive economically and socially within their local areas, promoting sustainability and avoiding urban migration. Makara presented his home village, Malubalube, as an ideal example of this model, with its central location in Mokhotlong potentially boosting local tourism.

He outlined plans for eco-friendly tourism, showcasing sustainable practices such as alternative energy sources, recycling, and water purification. “Additionally, through our nursery, we aim to preserve indigenous vegetation and support medicinal plant industries, contributing to the establishment of an ecotourism and cultural village centred on uplifting the local community,” he added.

Discussing the Polihali Project, Makara said funds are allocated to improve affected areas, as specified in Clause 10 of the Treaty. He also noted that their projects are designed to attract investors, citing Mokhotlong’s abundant resources, including land, water, and minerals, as well as tourist attractions like Thabana-Ntlenyane and Sani Pass. “For these initiatives to succeed, we need support from entities like BEDCO and LNDC to facilitate and nurture local enterprises,” he said.

Makara revealed that they had approached several ministries for assistance with feasibility studies and lamented the government’s slow response to private initiatives, particularly a proposed project that could have provided Lesotho with 1,000 MW of clean energy by 2021. In his concluding remarks, Makara called for Parliament to adopt a more assertive role in ensuring government ministries fulfil their duties towards Basotho communities. He quoted: “Babusi e be babusuoa ba ba busoang!” to emphasise Parliament’s oversight responsibilities.

Moeketsi Motšoane, Chairperson of the Natural Resources Cluster, responded by stating the committee would discuss the proposal with other committees and promised to follow up with Bana Ba Thari to further review their model and make a decision. “It is crucial for Basotho to remember that Parliament’s primary role is to safeguard their economic and social well-being. It serves as the government’s watchdog in executing national interests, and our approach to the Committee was aimed at proactive intervention in community matters,” he said.

“In one of our slides, we emphasised the need to ‘TAKE OUR HEADS OUT OF THE BOX!’ Too often, people expect the government to meet all their needs without taking initiative themselves, which keeps us in a restrictive mind-set. “Consequently, Lesotho and its people suffer from a lack of proper support and intervention from various governmental bodies, including ministries and parastatals,” he explained.

During his presentation to the committee, Makara discussed their model, which aims to empower rural communities to stay within their regions (ruralisation) and enhance their economic and social well-being. He described it as a concept that fosters self-sustaining communities rather than encouraging displacement and urbanisation.

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