Rehabilitating rangelands for healthy headwaters
The highlands of Lesotho form the headwaters of the Orange–Senqu, which drains one of the largest river basins in southern Africa. It provides the water required to drive the most economically active area in southern Africa, supports large-scale irrigation and meets the domestic needs of 19 million people. In spite of making up less than five per cent of the basin area, Lesotho contributes over forty per cent of the Orange–Senqu’s natural runoff. The well-watered grasslands that characterise Lesotho are essential for the retention and slow release of water, which help stabilise stream flow, attenuate floods, reduce sediment loads and absorb nutrients. These services are, however, at risk because the rangelands are being degraded through overuse, making them vulnerable to erosion. Soil is being washed away and the land is becoming less productive, making it more difficult for rural households to make a living; the waters of the Orange–Senqu are laden with silt and their flow is less tempered by the grasslands.
27 Aug 2014