The strong oral storytelling tradition in Basotho culture has been an important way to share and pass down information from generation to generation. Be it through songs, stories, hymns, prayers and farming practices, indigenous knowledge plays an important part in the identity of Basotho.
That is why ReNOKA believes in integrating the traditional knowledge as a way to incorporate the rich heritage of Basotho with the ever-changing needs of modern-day Lesotho.
Areas once mythologised by Basotho’s forebearers are seeing dramatic increases in land degradation. Unsustainable land management practises amongst other factors, are now resulting in the loss of the prosperous green lands which Lesotho was once described of.
Researches have shown that land in Lesotho is being eroded at a staggering 4,500 tonnes of topsoil every hour. That is a staggering 300 truckloads of soil being washed away in less time than it takes to finish a movie.
Land degradation in Lesotho is also projected to be costing the country over M1 Billion per year. In the 1970s, sheep in Lesotho produced around 5kgs of wool per year, while maize yields were around 2 tonnes/hectare. Sadly, sheep in Lesotho now produce under 3kgs of wool per year, and maize yields are around 1.2 tonnes/hectare.
The findings of the Indigenous Knowledge Study conducted under ReNOKA have shown that one of the reasons for the increased rate of land degradation in Lesotho can be traced back to people abandoning their indigenous farming practices.
It may seem odd in the modern world but going back to the practices of the forefathers can shred more light on the ways to help revive the land. These methods were often way ahead of their time, with science now also proving their effectiveness. Through the Indigenous Knowledge Study, methods such as building stone lines are scientifically proven to slow down water runoff and increase the amount of water that gets absorbed into the ground.
The elders knew they had to use products of the land to restore it, entering a harmonious cycle of giving and taking. Cow dung mixed with urine was used for many generations as an effective fertiliser and natural pesticide. Science has proven that cow urine contains a compound that makes it effective as a biofertiliser and biopesticide that can kill a number of pesticide and herbicide-resistant bacteria, viruses, and fungi (IJIRSET 2016).
The forefathers understood that simple did not always mean ineffective. Natural products like these, protect crops against harmful pests and viruses- all without destroying the land around it.
There are many methods that were used to promote healthy land, water and livestock. One of these is rotational grazing – the process of dividing one large grazing pasture into smaller paddocks to allow livestock to move from one paddock to the other systematically. This ensures that there is time for the grass to regrow in each paddock so that no overgrazing takes place and livestock becomes healthier as a result.
A reduction in overgrazing means less soil erosion, more fertile land, and healthier animals. This traditional approach is one we return to today.
Evidently, our ancestors have used many farming methods to create the flourishing landscapes they once spoke so highly of. At ReNOKA, we believe that it is the responsibility of each and every Mosotho to carry on the legacy that our forebears worked so hard to establish. By restoring our land and water sources through indigenous methods, we can redefine our beloved Kingdom with a prosperous future for all.
ReNOKA recognizes the herders as the agents of change for land, water and related resources.
Happy International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.
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
Visit the ReNOKA website at www.renoka.org
Engage with us on social media:
National ICM Coordinator, ICM Coordination Unit
GIZ Programme Manager, Support to Integrated Catchment Management (ICM) in 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)’