- Lesotho: Improving Resilience through Climate-Smart Agriculture
Lesotho: Improving Resilience through Climate-Smart Agriculture
The country is rolling out a novel approach to improve food security while curbing greenhouse gas emissions and improving overall resilience
Lesotho is one of the 46 least developed countries in the world – small, mountainous and landlocked with a population of 2.1 million. According to the World Bank, over 70 percent of the population live in rural areas, while around 80 percent rely on agriculture for income and food security.
Their land and livelihoods are not only precarious but facing a growing number of climate-related threats ranging from storms and droughts to irregular rainfalls and temperature patterns. With forests covering just 1.5 percent of the country, the already degraded natural resource base is under increasing pressure, threatening the livelihoods of vulnerable communities across the country. One response to this existential challenge is the adoption of ClimateSmart Agriculture (CSA), an approach to food production that seeks to improve productivity, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and increase overall resilience.
The government is working with the World Bank on a Lesotho Climate-Smart Agriculture Investment Plan to identify the best investments for transforming the agriculture sector. The plan considers context-specific opportunities for scaling up climate-smart solutions through a process that combines modeling approaches and consultations with stakeholders in the public and private sectors, civil society, and farmer groups. It focuses on the three pillars of increasing productivity, enhancing resilience and adaptation, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The CSA approach can offer multiple wins. It helps to increase productivity and incomes, enhances food security and dietary diversity, provides employment opportunities, improves rural livelihoods and reduces the impact of climate change on agricultural produce. Furthermore, it can also conserve biodiversity, reduce soil erosion and generate carbon sequestration.
The effective scaling up of CSA has the potential to improve the lives and livelihoods of smallholder farmers, as well as improving agricultural resilience and food security, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The benefits are clear, but effective implementation requires the consideration of a number of adoption barriers, including insufficient access to finance, limited implementation capacity and insufficient research.
Swift action is needed
International expert recommendations say that government policies must address the mismatch between demand and supply. Funding gaps must be identified and access to climate finance must be expanded. Research must be strengthened and partnerships must be established. Lesotho is an example where action is being taken. But urgent action is needed everywhere. The world’s least developed countries (LDCs) are already being hit hardest by the impact of climate change. The World Bank estimates that as a consequence almost 2 percent of the world’s population is at risk of falling into extreme poverty – mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
Africa in particular is highly vulnerable. Agricultural productivity growth has fallen by 34 percent since 1961 due to climate change, more than anywhere in the world. Agricultural livelihoods and food systems have been highly impacted. The global challenge is further aggravated by agriculture’s acute vulnerability to climate change. The sector is dependent on weather and functioning ecosystems. It is, however, a double-edged sword: Agriculture affects the climate and is affected by it at the same time. In effect, the sector is one of the biggest drivers of climate change: 23 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions stem from agriculture.
Hans-Otto Pörtner, Co-Chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, highlights the urgency of swift action: “The scientific evidence is unequivocal: climate change is a threat to human well-being and the health of the planet. Any further delay in concerted global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future.”