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Lesotho

Lesotho is a small landlocked country as big as Belgium and entirely surrounded by South Africa. It is the only independent state in the world that lies entirely above 1,000 metres in elevation. With blue skies 300 days per year, 2 spectacular national parks, a ski resort (yes, a ski resort) and Africa’s highest pub (the Sani Top Chalet at nearly 3,000m), Lesotho is a little gem packed full surprises. 


“Basutoland” gained its independence from Britain and became the Kingdom of Lesotho in 1966. It had emerged in the 19th century as a political unit during a chaotic era named Mfecane (1815 - 1840). This period of widespread, inter-ethnic warfare in Southern Africa was sparked by the changing equilibriums between clans, the introduction of new crops and new weapons, as well as growing competition for arable lands due to the massive arrival of settlers from Europe and other parts of Africa. 


A small tribe led by King Moshoeshoe (“the Shaver”) moved to mountainous plateaux at the centre of modern-day South Africa which proved an impenetrable stronghold to both European enemies and warring tribes. In times of trouble, a well-protected territory combined with abundant water and food goes a long way. King Moshoeshoe played his diplomatic cards right, pitting the Dutch against the British and hosting defeated tribes to grow his population and standing army. 


In 1868, Lesotho fell under British domination - albeit with slightly more autonomy than other territories. Imperial domination formally ended in 1966. This opened a period of political instability and successive military coups and royal exiles for Lesotho. 


In 2014, an aborted military coup forced the Prime Minister, Tom Thabane, into exile for several days in South Africa. The country is not out of its political turmoil but has experienced great economic growth in the last years; providing jobs, external investment and the burgeoning of a local manufacturing and export economy. Can this growth be managed in harmony with its beautiful and well-preserved environment? Absolutely. But Lesotho can’t do it alone. 


TOTAL POPULATION

2.1 million YEAR 2014

CO2 EMISSIONS

2,500 kt COUNTRY, YEAR 2014

822,800 kt Sub-Saharan Africa, YEAR 2014

“A conditional emissions reduction of 35% by 2030.”

PARIS AGREEMENT TARGET

Created by potrace 1.10, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2011

LESOTHO | ALL PROJECTS

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CLIMATE SIGNIFICANCE

With a business-as-usual scenario (the simplest and most likely model for the moment), Lesotho will experience a significant increase in annual mean temperature of approximately 1°C by 2030, 2°C by 2050 and 3.5°C by 2080. Agriculture (63%), energy (31%) and waste management (6%) are the three largest contributors to the country’s GHG emissions.

Lesotho holds significant water resources in the form of ice and snowcaps. Almost all of its electricity is produced by hydropower plants, and it is known as the “Water Castle” of Southern Africa. Water is a critical issue in this part of the world which has tremendous human and industrial needs for this resource. Despite this water-rich setting, Lesotho experienced a catastrophic drought in 2016, that left 650,000 people in need of food aid, as most of the water was diverted to its richer neighbour South Africa.

The Lesotho Highland Water Project is a huge water supply project designed to provide additional hydroelectric power and funnel water to the mining districts in South Africa. The project has considerably increased the number of roads in formerly remote parts of the country, but has been criticised by many for corruption, environmental damage, and the feeding of water to extractive industries.

The second challenge Lesotho needs to meet is the modernisation of individual energy consumption. The majority of the population uses wood for daily energy needs, such as cooking or heating. This causes deforestation, reducing protection from natural disasters and a general reduction of the quality of the environment. The electrification of rural Lesotho, combined with the distribution of more efficient stoves, should greatly reduce the amount of wood needed in daily life.

The mountain country (there is not a single point in the country under 1,500 m) has a wealth of assets and tough challenges ahead. Meso e tswala meswana (Procrastination is the thief of time). Act now!



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DATA INSIGHTS

Lesotho is a lower middle-income country, according to the World Bank classification. To understand Lesotho’s position in the fight against climate change, it is useful to observe its history of carbon emissions and exposure to climate risk. The following plots provide an overview of Lesotho’s historic greenhouse gas emissions in perspective with global emission levels, as well as the country’s relative vulnerability and preparedness to climate change.

Lesotho Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Lesotho’s timeline of total GHG emissions and the percentage change from 1990

This plot combines 3 pieces of information measured from 1990 - 2012: The bar chart indicates the volume of the country’s GHG emissions, the dotted line shows the variation of this volume compared to the baseline 1990, and the full line presents the same variation, but globally.


Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and fluorocarbons are the main drivers of global warming. Between 1990 and 2012, the world’s emissions grew by 40%.


From 1990 to 2000, Lesotho’s emissions increased by 72%. This sharp increase was due to a rise in the use of imported fossil fuels from South Africa as an energy source. However, as a result of reductions in nitrous oxide emissions (one of the principal GHGs alongside CO2) from agricultural practices, Lesotho saw its emissions fall between 2000 and 2008. Overall, Lesotho’s GHG emissions increased by 84% between 1990 and 2012. Over the same period, global emissions increased by over 40%. 


In Lesotho, the agriculture sector is responsible for the largest share (88%) of the country’s emissions, mainly driven by methane emissions from livestock digestion and manure. Nitrous oxide, produced through fertilizer use and manure management, is also one of the major sources of Lesotho’s emissions. To reduce the country’s emissions, changes in farming practices such as improving manure management and fertilizer applications should be a key consideration looking forward. (Source: WRI, 2018; World Bank, 2018)


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Lesotho Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Lesotho’s timeline of total GHG emissions and the percentage change from 1990

graph

This plot combines 3 pieces of information measured from 1990 - 2012: The bar chart indicates the volume of the country’s GHG emissions, the dotted line shows the variation of this volume compared to the baseline 1990, and the full line presents the same variation, but globally.


Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and fluorocarbons are the main drivers of global warming. Between 1990 and 2012, the world’s emissions grew by 40%.


From 1990 to 2000, Lesotho’s emissions increased by 72%. This sharp increase was due to a rise in the use of imported fossil fuels from South Africa as an energy source. However, as a result of reductions in nitrous oxide emissions (one of the principal GHGs alongside CO2) from agricultural practices, Lesotho saw its emissions fall between 2000 and 2008. Overall, Lesotho’s GHG emissions increased by 84% between 1990 and 2012. Over the same period, global emissions increased by over 40%. 


In Lesotho, the agriculture sector is responsible for the largest share (88%) of the country’s emissions, mainly driven by methane emissions from livestock digestion and manure. Nitrous oxide, produced through fertilizer use and manure management, is also one of the major sources of Lesotho’s emissions. To reduce the country’s emissions, changes in farming practices such as improving manure management and fertilizer applications should be a key consideration looking forward. (Source: WRI, 2018; World Bank, 2018)


Lesotho Climate Vulnerability and Readiness (CVRI)

Lesotho’s vulnerability and readiness to combat climate change

This graph ranks a country’s climate performance by measuring its readiness (x-axis) and its vulnerability (y-axis). Both are measured from 0 - 1 (1 being the most ready or most vulnerable). This index combines indicators of a country’s exposure to climate change and others that measure the country’s potential to withstand those shocks. 


Each dot in this plot represents a country. The countries in most urgent situations are on the top left of the graph whilst the most resilient ones stand at the bottom right.


Lesotho is categorised as a country with high vulnerability to climate change impacts and a low level of adaptation capacity. The food sector show the highest vulnerability to climate change as Lesotho is heavily dependent on imported food from its neighbouring countries - whose agriculture output is expected to decline due to climate change impacts. The nation is likely to face food insecurity in the future. Extreme weather events such as floods and droughts will lead to an increased risk of diseases, including malnutrition and waterborne diseases. (Source: ND-GAIN, 2018)


The impacts of climate change vary by country and region. But wherever you are, local-level adaptation projects are necessary. You have all the cards in hand, now go explore our live projects and be one of the good guys. 


TAKE ACTION

Lesotho Climate Vulnerability and Readiness (CVRI)

Lesotho’s vulnerability and readiness to combat climate change

graph

This graph ranks a country’s climate performance by measuring its readiness (x-axis) and its vulnerability (y-axis). Both are measured from 0 - 1 (1 being the most ready or most vulnerable). This index combines indicators of a country’s exposure to climate change and others that measure the country’s potential to withstand those shocks. 


Each dot in this plot represents a country. The countries in most urgent situations are on the top left of the graph whilst the most resilient ones stand at the bottom right.


Lesotho is categorised as a country with high vulnerability to climate change impacts and a low level of adaptation capacity. The food sector show the highest vulnerability to climate change as Lesotho is heavily dependent on imported food from its neighbouring countries - whose agriculture output is expected to decline due to climate change impacts. The nation is likely to face food insecurity in the future. Extreme weather events such as floods and droughts will lead to an increased risk of diseases, including malnutrition and waterborne diseases. (Source: ND-GAIN, 2018)


The impacts of climate change vary by country and region. But wherever you are, local-level adaptation projects are necessary. You have all the cards in hand, now go explore our live projects and be one of the good guys. 


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