Herdsmen lose pastures to Wetlands rehabilitation

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By Nicole Tau

Implementation of the Integrated Catchment Management (ICM) Project is inadvertently costing herdsmen of Makhalaneng and other places under the project loss of several grazing grounds for their livestock.

The integrated catchment management project is intended to promote the rehabilitation and protection of wetland and water sources while also curtailing soil erosion.

When implemented, the wetlands and water sources protected and soil erosion reversed through the erection of sponges and other measures like planting grass.

These wetlands have for some time now been luscious places for grazing animals, but will soon be enclosed or sealed off so as to protect and preserve the water sources underneath them.

This loss of wetlands full of fertile animal feed is for shepherds a great loss.

Shepherds who spoke to KDNews said they understood that the project was well-intended, however, believed that their voices have not being heard as the entire initiative is leaving them at a disadvantage.

According to one of the shepherds that spoke on condition of anonymity the chiefs and village counselors not only care about “their water sources protection problem” but seem to thwart their every attempt in finding new grazing grounds for their livestock.

A herdsman also revealed that the overgrazing on those wetlands is due to the absence of cooperation from the shepherds in those areas where the same lack of communication has negatively impacted the wetlands.

The shepherds said that they have lost faith in the chiefs following several failed attempts at engaging them and have since placed their hopes in the Government of Lesotho that might hear of their plight and come to their assistance.

The M700 Million funded ICM project is said to cover about 74 sub-catchment projects with six of them being of high priority.

Makhlalaneng, Ha Moitsupeli, Kotsoane, Ha Potiane, Lokolobeng, and Ha Dinizulu are some of the places with wetlands that will be enclosed or will be subjected to other ICM Emergency Measures.

During the official launch of ICM on the 8 of October, Makhaleng Catchment Manager, Motlalepula Letsoela said one way of protecting and preserving these catchments is by educating the surrounding communities on the importance of safeguarding the wetlands as well as on ways by which they can do that.

Letsoela said the main factors that pose danger to those wetlands in those communities are overgrazing, soil erosion, and overpopulation.

Letsoela said that he was not aware of the rising tension over the loss of pastures.

He however concedes that the protection of wetlands will decrease available pastures and puts herdsmen at a disadvantage.

Letsoela however, believes that certain initiatives of the project will eventually accommodate the herdmen and their livestock.

Letsoela said within the project they are aiming to promote the cultivation of fodder crops of which the farmers will be able to cut the fodder crops from the arable to feed their animals in order to reduce the pressure that is exerted on the pastures.

“We are going to sit down with stakeholders including the herdsmen and plan on how we will cultivate the fodder crops and what they would like to see in future in relation to their livestock,” Letsoela told KDNews.

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