Integrated catchment management (ICM) is a holistic approach that recognises the catchment as the appropriate organising unit for understanding and managing ecosystem processes in a context that includes social, economic and political considerations, and guides communities towards an agreed vision of sustainable natural resource management in their catchment.
What is a catchment?
A catchment is the natural drainage basin that collects runoff. The geographical topography, like a mountain range or a depression, determines the boundary of the catchment and funnels rainfall, snowmelt and water towards a collection point, which usually culminates in a river..
Lesotho’s three main rivers are the Senqu, Mohokare and the Makhaleng, representing three main catchments. These three rivers are fed by many smaller tributary rivers and streams, each with their own sub-catchments.
What is a wetland?
Wetlands are areas where water covers the soil, or is present either at or near the surface of the soil all year or for varying periods of time during the year, including during the growing season. Healthy wetland systems play a role in climate regulation through carbon cycling; absorption of toxins; flood control/erosion reduction; maintain groundwater levels; and play a large role in water purification (particularly in urban and agricultural areas). Wetlands are also home and a support system for a wide range of plants and animals.
The wetlands of Lesotho are quite distinct both floristically and structurally from those found in other parts of the region. The soils and vegetation found in these wetlands are different from those found in the surrounding areas.
What is mountain restoration?
Mountains occupy about a quarter of the Earth’s land, harbour most of its biodiversity hotspots and supply fresh water to an estimated half of humanity.
Mountain regions are particularly sensitive to degradation from both human pressures and climate change. Steep slopes mean the clearing of forest for farming, settlements or infrastructure can cause serious soil erosion as well as the loss of habitat. Erosion and pollution harm the quality of water flowing downstream. Climate change threatens the quantity and timing of water supplies to farms, cities, industry and power stations. Fast-rising temperatures are forcing mountain species, ecosystems and the people that depend on them to adapt or migrate.
Restoring mountain ecosystems means considering whole landscapes. Nature-based solutions, including increased forest cover, can conserve soil, safeguard water flows and guard against natural disasters such as avalanches, landslides and floods. Infrastructure such as dams and roads can be planned to avoid fragmenting rivers and other habitats. Farming techniques such as agroforestry can be more resilient in the face of changing weather patterns. Indigenous knowledge can be a vital resource in keeping the use of natural resources sustainable.
What is action?
Action means doing something for a particular purpose. ReNOKA has put together a plan to achieve its purpose (building a resilient river basin through Integrated Catchment Management), which consists of five practical steps that need to be taken over the next three years.
What is advocacy?
Advocacy is a form of communication used to influence a specific audience for a development outcome.
The objective of the advocacy campaign may be to influence or change a policy, change behaviour, alter the balance of power or reform an institution.
In the case of ICM, we are advocating for land and water systems to be managed holistically and our advocacy centres on engaging a broad spectrum of stakeholders across regions and sectors to work together for the shared prosperity of the catchment.