In 2021, Lesotho launched ReNOKA (“We Are a River”), a national and active citizen movement to advance integrated catchment management (ICM) in Lesotho and the Orange-Senqu River basin. A kick-off event in Maloraneng on 16 September marked the beginning of operations in the Khubelu subcatchment, a vital water source area of the Senqu basin.
The national launch marked the official commencement of coordinated activities towards the management, restoration and protection of land and water resources in Lesotho and the Orange-Senqu river basin. In addition to the national coordination office based in Maseru, the programme is set to operate in six (6) identified priority sub-catchment areas. With the purpose of involving and working closely with the communities. The first regional hub was kicked off on 16 September 2021 at Maloraneng, Khubelu Lesotho. The objective of the kick-off was multi-pronged: 1. To present the team of partners who will be supporting implementation of ReNOKA at the “Regional Hub”. 2. To present the Community structures that were established to plan and implement the whole suite of ICM interventions. 3. To confirm commitment and support between the community structures and governance structures.
The kick-off programme was limited to representatives of the community to comply with Covid-19 protocols. The event was punctuated with inputs from the Village Watershed Team – VWT, as direct villagers’ representation; the Catchment Watershed Team – CWT, as the community ICM umbrella structure; Community Councils representatives; The Joint Community Councils’ representation – CMJC; the Integrated Catchment Management Coordination Unit – ICU; representatives from the Private Sector; the District Council Secretariat representative; the District Administration representative and the Principal Chief’s representative.
The Khubelu sub- catchment is in the headwaters of the Senqu River and is an important water source area of the basin and the future Polihali Dam, the main component of phase two of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project. The sub-catchment is richly endowed with wetlands (around 750 hectares). These water “sponges” are increasingly impacted by unsustainable land use practices. Erosion in the fragile mountain landscapes is a serious threat, leading to loss of wetlands and siltation and poor water quality in water courses.
Reflection from speakers:
The Village Watershed Team representative (VWT): “Being chosen to lead community came as a daunting task for many of us. We felt challenged by lack of capacity and knowledge on what is required of us. We are very grateful for the training that prepared us to be instrumental in the transformation of our community mindset from dependency to self-reliance. We are now looking forward to becoming effective support to our people to stand together to change our environment for better productivity.”
The Community Watershed Team representative (CWT) emphasised that, “readiness to embrace the ReNOKA movement and to support the community in undertaking the required planning and engagement in the implementation of ReNOKA interventions is key”.
“We are aware of the sticky points in the development and passing of by-laws, which is something we are hoping to be supported with, in order to embrace with the requirements of community development. It has now been a huge gap from 2005 when we started developing these by-laws, but to no avail. We are hopeful that through ReNOKA our unity will provide the needed strength to succeed”, said the Community Councillor, Mapakalitha Selia.
The Catchment Management Joint Committee (CMJC) representative, Lebakae Lesoma, indicated, “We feel ready to stand in for our respective community councils in pulling together the required resources in the development of ReNOKA building blocks to deliver interventions that will have tangible results, that will truly enhance the Khubelu sub-catchment and become a learning curve for others younger”.
The Coordinator of the Integrated Catchment Unit, Makomoreng Fanana, gave an overview on how the support programme under the ReNOKA movement will work on national policy harmonisation, establishment of effective and efficient catchment management institutions, human skills development and awareness raising, data, monitoring and sector coordination. Within this enabling framework, the Government of Lesotho with its donor partners the European Union and the German Government will support implementation of effective and sustainable catchment rehabilitation and development measures.
Bongani Ntloko from Letseng Diamonds considers the private sector role as that of a catalyst and community support to achieve multiple material requirements. “We have become a living example in providing infrastructure for health, agricultural and even providing technical support that enables and capacitates community to achieve beyond their own means. We call upon other private sector entities to stand up to the challenge in support of the ReNOKA initiative and movement, as by doing so, they will be lending a hand that government has largely obtained from outside our country”.
The District Council Secretariat, Ntate Khati Tselisehang sighted, “We will remain vigilant on the ReNOKA activities and support them, largely because the good that will come of the results will be upscaled to the rest of the district and hopefully beyond. It has been an ongoing and insurmountable challenge to continue receiving developmental assistance, but we are challenged unequivocally by lack of by-laws to support and enforce developmental efforts”.
The District Administrator, Ntate Serame Linake “My primary role is to support all ventures and initiatives that aim to improve the well-being of the Mokhotlong District environment and its people. I feel honoured to see the cheerful community structures and the governance units that demonstrate willingness to take up the onerous responsibility to change the living conditions in this area. My office is more than ready to support all efforts that aim to better our living standards. I wish therefore to lease my support and stand up to be counted”.
The Principal Chief, Ntate Mokotjo Sekonyela, “We stand hopeful that this beautiful act of presentations from all the community and governance structures, towards achievement of the ReNOKA objective, which is targeted towards improvement of our environment for betterment of our people, will even convince the evil-minded to turn around and join the good. We have over the years experienced and witnessed various inputs as interventions in our area in general, with the objective of improving our livelihoods. Many of these ventures have produced the expected success. We remain hopeful therefore and ready to support the ReNOKA movement, for we have over the years also matured in thought and feel ready to perfect the art of restoring our land”.
For more information
Visit the ReNOKA website at www.renoka.org
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National ICM Coordinator
GIZ Communications Officer
ICM Public Relations Officer
‘This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the Integrated Catchment Management unit and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union’