Maseru, 8 March
Reviving the indigenous knowledge that Basotho have carried for generations is a powerful tool to address catchment degradation and improve climate resilience – this was one of the key messages coming out of the presentation of a joint research study by the National University of Lesotho (NUL) and the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC) for the ReNOKA programme for integrated catchment management in Lesotho.
A launch event of the study “Mainstreaming indigenous knowledge systems for integrated catchment management in Lesotho” was held at the historical site of Thaba Bosiu on Tuesday, 8 March. In attendance were traditional leaders, NUL students, representatives of land and water user associations, representatives of the ReNOKA programme for integrated catchment management in Lesotho, and international development partners.
Makomoreng Fanana, National ICM Coordinator, his welcome remarks outlined the purpose of the research: “to map indigenous knowledge related to ICM in Lesotho, assess reasons for its disappearance or continued relevance, and to propose how indigenous knowledge can be integrated into catchment rehabilitation today and in the future.”
Egline Tauya from SARDC explained the definition of indigenous knowledge as “the knowledge that people in a given community have developed over time, and continue to develop. A complex set of knowledge, skills, rules, beliefs, norms and technologies that is stored in people’s memories and activities and is expressed in stories, songs, folklore, cultural beliefs, and rituals”. Ms Tauya further highlighted that indigenous knowledge provides the basis for problem-solving strategies for rural communities and that it represents an important component of global knowledge on development issues. She warned that “development projects have failed because of the disregard for local needs and priorities or the failure to involve local groups in the planning and implementation”
A team of NUL researchers, comprising of Dr. Makoae Masopha, Dr. Mamohau Thamae, Dr. Khahliso Leketa, Joalane Marunye and Pokane Masotsa, presented their findings from field research amongst communities across Lesotho. They identified various types of indigenous knowledge in related to the protection of water resources, soil fertility and erosion control, conservation of plants and seeds, rangeland management, and rituals for the planting of cops.
The researchers concluded that there is a need to integrate indigenous knowledge with modern approaches of managing natural resources. This can be facilitated though various means, including awareness raising among the broader public, inter-generational dialogues, additional research, and documentation of practices, using diverse methods which include storytelling, folklore, ceremonies and drama.
Mario Varrenti, Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation to Lesotho make a fitting closing remark: “It has been said that the best way to hide something is to put it in a book. Let us not hide this valuable knowledge but bring it out into the world”.
The research report “Mainstreaming indigenous knowledge systems for integrated catchment management in Lesotho” can be downloaded here.
ReNOKA (‘we are a river’) is a national programme and citizen movement for the restoration of land and water in Lesotho and the Orange-Senqu basin. Support for ReNOKA is provided through a partnership between the Government of Lesotho, the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The EU and BMZ contributions are implemented through a technical assistance project “Support to Integrated Catchment Management in Lesotho” by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.
For more information
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National ICM Coordinator
Southern African Research and Documentation Centre
SARDC Research Centre
National University of Lesotho
‘This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Its contents are the sole responsibility of the Integrated Catchment Management unit and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union or the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)’