Fading environmental ecosystem affects agriculture


MASERU – Lesotho’s environmental ecosystem has been deteriorating over time, resulting in long-spells of droughts, floods and seismic shifts that have increased both economic and social vulnerabilities.

For many, these changes have resulted in loss of livelihood sources, thereby worsening inequality and poverty levels in the communities.

While agriculture remains central to economic recovery and employment creation, its productivity depends on sound environmental management, biodiversity and adaptation to climate change.

This has been revealed by the UNDP Resident Representative, Betty Wabunoha, on Wednesday during the launch of the launch of Human Development Report 2020.

Lesotho’s primary crops are maize, beans, wheat, sorghum and peas and over the years, droughts have had a devastating effect and destroyed many summer harvests and livestock. The mountainous terrain means that only about 10 percent of the land can be cultivated.

But despite this, the country’s economy is largely dependent on agriculture.

Due to declining agricultural productivity as a result of climate change induced droughts, at least 500 000 people have been declared food insecure, on annual basis for more than a decade.

The country has been recently experiencing torrential rains which further affect infrastructure and challenges sustainability of investment decisions and strategies moving forward.

“Let us remind ourselves that the recent assessment of the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on the Kingdom of Lesotho by the UN and partners notes that agriculture has been the most resilient sector in the country. As such, this sector becomes central in the definition of the national recovery strategy,” the UNDP Resident Representative continued.

“Noting that agriculture productivity depends on sound environmental management, biodiversity and adaptation to climate change, green activities remain central to economic recovery and employment creation,” she added.

Under the theme “The next frontier: Human development and the Anthropocene”, the report has focused on ways to expand people’s choices and their ability to live a long healthy life, to have access to schooling, to make a decent livelihood and to be able to achieve their full potential.

The Human Development Report is a flagship report of the UNDP, focusing on providing evidence based analysis and policy options for building human capabilities, freedoms, and choices for achieving development. Since 1990, at the first publication, the report has interrogated many development issues.

The report provides an analytical assessment of how human relate to the Anthopocene, exploring how they are destabilizing planetary systems and putting a strain on the environment. Due to the interdependency between humans and the planet, these imbalances are mutually reinforcing, thus amplifying the existing development and livelihood challenges.

According to the report, human action is required to minimize planetary pressures. There is need to adopt mechanisms that catalyze action and change, including changing social norms, providing incentives and regulations that enable humans to work with nature and not against it.

Lesotho is ranked 165 out of 189 on the Human Development Index. While the adjustment for planetary effects is minimal, it pushes it lower by four points. This means the country must be continuously conscious of the development actions which may compromise the planetary ecosystems.

Minister of Development Planning, Selibe Mochoboroane, explained in his own remarks that although the country’s ranking has moved only slightly since 1990, the human development ranking and index have always been the radar for social development policy.

“I challenge you to also think about how we can together join hands to implement the ambitions to attaining development, while also keeping an eye on its impact on nature. COVID-19 has shown us that radical changes are possible with commitment and joint vision,” Mochoboroane said.

The launch comes at the right time when the country is at the crossroads on the implementation of the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP II) and preparations for the post-Covid recovery agenda. It also provides a checkpoint on the Sustainable Development Goals, among other things.











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