|Impact of climate change in Lesotho communities explored|
The initial findings of a new study led by RCCP food security specialist Stephanie Midgley reveal that climate variability and risk as experienced by Lesotho’s rural, agriculture-based communities are increasingly hampering their dependence on the land.
Carried out for the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in conjunction with the Lesotho government, the report reveals that a very high percentage of the rural populace are subsistence or smallholder farmers. So, as the brunt of an apparent increase in climate variability comes down to bear, they are hardest hit.
Unlike commercial farmers, subsistence and smallholder farmers do not have reserves of cash or other assets to tide them over extended periods of stress or to recover from short-term shocks. As a result, even minor changes in climate risk have a disproportionate impact on their livelihoods, the report says.
Adaptation programmes will therefore have to take into account the nature of current climate risk at local level as well as current production practices, knowledge and skills.
Poverty is the foremost reason for the current lack of adaptation, and farmers require some form of assistance to gain access to improved seed suited to the climate conditions, farming implements and other inputs, Midgley writes.
Many rural people are strongly religious and/or bound to traditional beliefs and experience climatic stress within this frame of reference. To facilitate the understanding of climate change issues and uptake of adaptation practices, church and traditional leaders (including traditional healers) should become partners in any adaptation programme and receive some training in this regard, Midgley believes.
The report forms part of a larger Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) between the FAO and the Lesotho government, an initiative aimed at addressing climate change risks to vulnerable farming and rural communities through strengthening technical and institutional capacity, and evaluating and prioritising best practices.
The full report should be available for download towards the end of February, Midgley says.
RCCP eNews reporter, 29 January