- Dependence on biomass such as firewood and agricultural waste for cooking and heating purposes contributes to influences perpetuating climate change.
- Lesotho is currently implementing Enhancing Lesotho’s Private Sector Readiness for a Clean Energy Transition Project with the UNIDO under the Green Climate Fund (GCF) Readiness and Preparatory Support Programme.
- Lesotho needs to practice collaboration through appropriate stakeholder engagement tactics and device policies that align with community-based solutions.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group II (IPCC WGII) Sixth Assessment report highlights the importance of an energy shift in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.
The report encourages that moving from fuels to much more natural resources can lessen damages to African ecosystems and economies.
For sustainability, climate expert Letsatsi Lekhooa says an inclusive approach to energy transition for African countries, including Lesotho, is needed to achieve the recommended 1.5-degree level in the Paris Agreement signed in 2015.
While the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) National Project Coordinator in the Global Cleantech Innovation Programme (GCIP) Lesotho (Enhancing Lesotho’s Private Sector Readiness for a Clean Energy Transition Project) Mrs. Marorisang Makututsa says Lesotho’s energy production is amongst the greenest in the world.
Dependence on biomass such as firewood and agricultural waste for cooking and heating purposes contributes to influences perpetuating climate change through deforestation and indoor air pollution, leading to health issues.
Regrettably, the rise in global warming is putting many African countries, Lesotho included, at high risk in reduced food production, reduced economic growth, increased inequality, poverty, human mobility and biodiversity loss.
Lesotho is one of the signatories to the Paris Agreement and one of the African countries significantly affected by climate change.
More from reports
It is reported by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) Acute Food Insecurity analysis July 2022 – March 2023, that about 229,000 people (15% of the analyzed population in rural areas of Lesotho) are facing high acute food insecurity.
With the IPC reporting heavy rainfall as the destroyer of some crops in the 2021/22 cropping season, the World Food Programme (WFP) adds that a major food security crisis as a result of El-Niño induced drought has made Lesotho’s situation worse by exposing Basotho to successive years of crop failures, low incomes, and high food prices.
WFP reiterates that this loss has left 41 percent of rural families spending over half their income on food while over 30% face high levels of acute food insecurity across all ten districts.
“Food insecurity is at the tip of Lesotho’s troubles. It is one of the reasons for gender based violence, displacement of populations, decrease in wool and mohair production (one of the backbones of Lesotho’s economy) and many other challenges Lesotho and most African countries are facing due to climate change and its effects on biodiversity,” Lekhooa explains.
He also adds that food insecurity is adding on to increasing percentages of chronic malnutrition and stunting in children.
The details add to the WFP data that highlights that Lesotho loses 7.13 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to chronic malnutrition, and around 33 percent of children under the age of 5 years are stunted, while nearly a quarter of the population is infected with HIV.
Transitioning, a costly affair
Article 2 (b) of the Paris Agreement says that countries need to increase the ability to adapt to adverse impacts of climate change, foster climate resilience, and low greenhouse gas emissions development in a manner that does not threaten food production.
Article 2 (c) insights that there is a need to make finance flows consistent with pathways towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.
For Lesotho, transitioning fully into green energy, regardless of the strides already taken by the government through rolling out off-grid electrification plans by introducing mini-grids and energy shops in hard-to-reach areas, may prove costly and unfair to consumers.
“Mini-grid prices are higher than grid tariff and pose a question of unfair service delivery to customers.
Countering supply deficits
The country needs to strengthen efforts to counter supply deficits met by imports from South Africa and Mozambique through increasing local electricity supply with renewable energy-based electricity production, taking into account the landscape of the country,” Makututsa explains.
On top of this, Lekhooa explains that transitioning to green energy for Lesotho has proven challenging as most solutions set for Lesotho are in the context of international expertise due to the scarcity of local experts in the field of climate change.
As much as Lesotho is on the right track in developing low greenhouse gas emissions that do not threaten food production, she will still face high cost implications by importing resources and excluding relevant stakeholders.
“Lesotho needs to practice collaboration through appropriate stakeholder engagement tactics and device policies that align with community based solutions using new technologies that permit the use of natural resources such as wind, water and solar for her to prosper in energy transition for sustainable development,” Lekhooa stresses.
The Paris Agreement emphasizes the importance of integrated, holistic, and balanced non-market approaches in implementing Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC’s) (policies/ frameworks comprising a country’s specific challenges and proposed solutions as specified in the Paris Agreement).
It also clarifies that to achieve poverty eradication effectively, countries need coordinated efforts in mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology transfer, and capacity building.
Lesotho, in this context, relies heavily on the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP II) framework that advocates for sustainable energy production and use.
The NSDP II also supports the idea of recognizing that an Investment in green energy technologies can reverse trends in deforestation, soil erosion and enable society to heat homes and cook using cleaner, more efficient technologies, thereafter helping rebuild Lesotho’s natural capital.
“Lesotho recently hosted its first-ever climate finance conference.
But, without including all patrons such as people living in the outskirts of the country (of which some are living with disability), there will be no visible change in mitigating the effects of climate change in Lesotho through an energy shift, and this may come at a cost in future adaptation mechanisms,” Lekhooa says.
Even so, Makututsa believes that in as much as Lesotho’s limited financial resources and infrastructure pose significant barriers to implementing large-scale renewable energy projects, she is eligible to seek international assistance from international organizations as well as access climate finance mechanisms.
Such include the Green Climate Fund, which aims to support developing countries in mitigating and adapting to climate change.
Clean energy transition
“Lesotho is currently implementing Enhancing Lesotho’s Private Sector Readiness for a Clean Energy Transition Project with the UNIDO under the Green Climate Fund (GCF) Readiness and Preparatory Support Programme.
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It has so far implemented the off-grid electrification blueprint of the 2018 Lesotho Electrification Master Plan to accelerate access to clean and modern energy technologies through mini-grids and portable solar photovoltaics (PV) systems,” Makututsa says.
Banana Hatahata is a freelance journalist and media personality based in Lesotho.