International Cooperation and Development
International Cooperation and Development Newsroom

Success Story: Advancing capacity for greening Lesotho's national development

The European Union has developed a training programme to improve the effectiveness of its interventions where the environment and climate change are at play, thereby contributing to poverty eradication, sustainable development and green growth.

Standard training sessions are adapted to the context of each country, with a particularly good example being the ‘Greening National Development’ training carried out in Lesotho in October 2016.

Lesotho has been hit hard by climate change in recent years. Extreme weather events and natural disasters have been more frequent, affecting farming, the country’s natural resource base — including water, an abundant resource but with uneven distribution and highly vulnerable—, and biodiversity, exacerbating food insecurity, human, animal and crop diseases, and environmental degradation. In addition, soil loss and land degradation have increased due to unsustainable agricultural and livestock production practices, adding further pressure to livelihoods in a country with a very limited area suitable for agriculture (less than 10%).

To address these environmental issues a training course was jointly organised by the EU Delegation to the Kingdom of Lesotho and the country’s government to build capacities for enhanced integration of environment and climate change in national strategic planning.

Lesotho’s “Greening National Development” course

A key success factor was linking the training to a specific entry point: the revision of the country's five-year National Strategic Development Plan, identified as an excellent opportunity to build environmental sustainability and climate resilience into this strategic planning process.

"The EU Delegation to Lesotho identified this as an important juncture to train key actors in the government so that they could be better prepared to address environmental and climate issues when revising their national development strategy, ensuring linkages and the engagement of all sectors of their economy”, says EU Delegation's Programme Manager for Water, Energy & Climate Change Sjaak de Boer.

The course was coordinated by the EU Delegation and had a broad participation of various Ministries (including Development Planning; Agriculture and Food Security; Energy; Water; Forestry, Range and Soil Conservation; and Finance), local and regional authorities, the private sector, development partners and the media.

“Another particularity of this training course was the strong emphasis placed on the water-energy nexus, first because they are two of the focal sectors in EU programming for EDF 11, and also because they are clearly fundamental for the country’s development and economic growth. Interactions between water management and energy production are so closely related that inter-sector coordination becomes imperative for effective strategic planning, a condition that is not always forthcoming. For example, reduced water availability affects hydroelectric power production, biomass plantations assist in water conservation efforts that are also vital for agricultural production, water retention infrastructure can satisfy power generation and water supply needs.” explained Juan Palerm, course facilitator and expert of the Environment and Climate Change Mainstreaming Facility.

Water is Lesotho’s main source of wealth, since it exports water to South Africa, and energy is also key because of the potential that Lesotho’s vast water resources offer for renewable energy.

One day of training was thus devoted to addressing the linkages between energy and water, with the participation of an external facilitator from the Global Water Partnership. This training session included a visit to the Metolong Dam and Water Supply Programme (MDWSP), a project co-financed by the EU – European Investment Bank to improve water supply to Maseru, Lesotho’s capital, and other lowland districts like Roma, Morija, Mazenod, and Teyateyaneng.

Although water is abundant, its production is concentrated in the highlands, whereas the lowlands often face water shortages, with consequences to food security and clean water availability.

The Metolong Dam, with a capacity of 63 million cubic metres, supplies water to Maseru and other lowland districts.

Best practices learned

During the field visit, trainees learned about the importance of promoting good land management and agricultural practices in the area surrounding the dam so as to reduce the drag of sediments that can affect its lifespan, and consequently, the water supply. Also, the integrated water catchment management approach was promoted through the training to help revert land degradation and improve water management.

Participants learned that water management can only be effective if it takes into account the whole catchment. This includes measures to guarantee water quantity and quality, such as protection of water sources (e.g. wetlands), buffering of run-off (e.g. vegetation cover), and water quality control (e.g. effluent management). It also includes measures to satisfy demand, such as water for irrigation, electricity generation, industrial use and household consumption.

Integrated catchment management* is becoming increasingly important in the context of climate change, as water supply is likely to decrease; water-dependent productive sectors (e.g. rain-fed subsistence agriculture) are especially vulnerable and can be affected by erratic rainfall patterns, putting further stress on food security.

Impact of the training

In total, 25 people participated in the course, from five ministries (Development Planning; Agriculture and Food Security; Energy; Forestry, Range and Soil Conservation; Water and Finance), three EU Delegations in Africa (Lesotho, South Africa, Zambia), government agencies, local and regional authorities (e.g. Lesotho Highlands Water Commission), the UNDP, and the private sector.

According to Sjaak de Boer, “the Greening National Development workshop sensitised the participants to the importance of mainstreaming environment and climate change into national planning.”

“One of the very encouraging outcomes of the training course,” says Juan Palerm, "is that local authorities in the fields of water and energy expressed a keen interest in working in a more coordinated fashion, focusing on the water-energy nexus.”

After the training, with the technical assistance of the EU, Lesotho has developed the National Climate Change Policy (NCCP) and National Climate Change Policy Implementation Strategy (NCCPIS), which are helping to mainstream climate change and environmental considerations in the New Strategic Development Plan currently being developed.

For further training and methodological support

The Environment and Climate Change Mainstreaming Facility offers remote and on-site assistance to EU staff and national partners, to integrate environment and climate change into all phases of the programme cycle of operations.

For methodological advice and further training on environment and climate change mainstreaming, contact:

Bernard Crabbé

Tel: +32 229 62283



* Integrated catchment management is defined as a process bringing various parties and interests in a catchment together through regional land and water management plans to achieve whole catchment improvements.