Title: Mapping the possibility of conducting an Economics of Land Degradation study in Lesotho: a framework for promoting wetland sustainability

Author(s): Moselantja Rahlao
Final project
Year of publication:
wetlands, sustainability, economics of land degradation, Lesotho, policy


Land degradation reduces natural capital productivity and jeopardizes sustenance of life. The international community is abating land degradation through various frameworks and conventions. Many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Lesotho, are not an exception to land degradation, hence the adoption of Land Degradation Neutrality. Water is a valuable economic resource in Lesotho. Wetland catchments contribute to hydropower for Lesotho and water supply to four countries in Southern Africa. These ecosystem services are, however, threatened and efforts of curbing wetland degradation in Lesotho have been unsuccessful as degradation continues. Interventions to curb wetland degradation have hitherto excluded assessment of the monetary value of natural resources and the investment costs involved as opposed to the benefits. The Economics of Land Degradation framework is fundamental for valuing ecosystem services and realising the trajectory of sustainability. The aim of this study was to increase awareness among policymakers regarding the importance and value of wetlands in Lesotho using the Lets’eng-la-Letsie wetland as a reference study area. This was achieved by mapping out opportunities of conducting a cost-benefit analysis towards developing a wetland protection policy. Semi-structured interviews were used for data collection with decision-makers as informants. Findings of the study indicated that policymakers are aware of the intrinsic value of wetlands even if they are degraded. However, a new policy is not seen as feasible because of the existing harmonisation of relevant institutional policies. The study has set the baseline for adopting the Economics of Land Degradation methodology in sustainable land management for the development of Lesotho. Valuing ecosystem services will help to break the existing science-policy interface gap that hinders the restoration and resilience of ecosystems. This study provides an empirical framework towards achieving sustainable development. Therefore, it recommends increased awareness and capacity building among the public, including policymakers, of the importance, value, and management of wetlands.

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