Lesotho is one of the world’s Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and ranks as one of the most vulnerable to climatic and other hazards and shocks. Agriculture is the most important contributor to the national economy, and provides livelihoods to a high proportion of the population. Agro-ecologically, the country has a low percentage of arable land, with high elevations, steep slopes and a thin topsoil layer, resulting in high vulnerability to soil erosion and degradation. Extreme weather conditions occur periodically (drought, frost, heavy rainfall). The lowland is the most populated and intensively cultivated zone, while the highlands are less suited to growing crops and support a livestock industry providing valuable exports (wool, mohair) meat, milk and hides. Its socio-economic status is very low/weak, and poverty is rife.
In January 2011, OneWorld was contracted to prepare, for publication by FAO, a policy paper based on experiences and lessons learned from the pilot Technical Co-operation Programme (TCP) between FAO and the Government of Lesotho) project on strengthening capacity for climate change adaptation in Lesotho. Important outputs were recommendations as to how on-the-ground community-based responses could be scaled up to other parts of the country, and possibly to other vulnerable countries across southern Africa.
The project was implemented in two southern lowland districts (Mohale’s Hoek, Mafeteng) and a mountain district (Thaba Tseka) that were identified as being the most vulnerable by Lesotho’s National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA, 2007). OneWorld undertook a baseline study on climate-related impacts and vulnerabilities on crop, livestock and forest-based livelihood systems in the selected watershed/catchments.
Some of the activities undertaken include local data collection (household interviews, and community focus group workshops), household survey (questionnaire-based) was carried out by teams of Lesotho graduates, following theoretical and practical training offered by OneWorld, validation through discussions with experts, stakeholders and communities, during a series of meetings held in Lesotho at both national and district (sub-catchment) level during January 2010, and potential climate risk and climate change adaptation options emerging from the household surveys and initial focus group meetings were discussed and rated according to priority. OneWorld used the Climate Change Toolkit (described above) at a national and household level to develop the assessments of climate change-related impacts and vulnerabilities on crop, the livestock and forest-based livelihood systems in selected watershed/catchments, and a baseline study on climate-related vulnerabilities and adaptation practices.