Buzzing with biodiversity in rural Lesotho

Pupils from a nearby school in the Patlong community of rural Lesotho examine honey combs closely before tasting, while two women in white cotton suits and round veils are working to set up several beehives. A total of 25 beehives have recently been delivered to villages in this community.

Patlong is one of 17 rural communities selected by Technologies for Economic Development (TED), a Lesotho based non-governmental organization, to be part of a sustainable economic development project. It is also among the most marginalized communities in rural Lesotho.

The High Commission of Canada in South Africa, through its Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI), was proud to partner with TED to fund initiatives in these 17 communities. The project aims to develop economic opportunities and biodiversity as a way to overcome widespread land degradation that has been caused by overharvesting of trees in Lesotho.

Pupils and beekeepers examine honeycombs in rural Lesotho.

Good for business and the environment

The project provided beehives and beekeeper training to local community members, as well as education on sustainable development. Beekeeping generates income for impoverished communities through the sale of honey and related products, but is also a source of food security for these communities.

"We have just extracted honey today in my house, and before we finished filling the bottles the honey was bought! Is this what you meant during the Environmental Training that ''it pays to work for the environment"? – Participant

By promoting economic growth through green activities such as beekeeping, the community’s economic development does not happen at the expense of the environment.

Bees contribute to biodiversity and better the health of local ecosystems as they pollinate local plants. They also provide ongoing motivation for community members to plant and protect trees in order to increase their honey yield. This provides a long-term economic incentive for the community to protect their local environment.

Trained beekeepers work to set up beehives in their community of Patlong.

The Trees and the Bees

TED also offered environmental education, organized community collaboration, and funded tree planting activities in the 17 communities.

While trees planted in the life of the project are not yet fully grown, they will continue to help strengthen local ecosystems and off-set carbon emissions as they grow.

“Some farmers came to my place early today to tell me that they think the bees in the area are helping pollinate their crops…they tell me that they thought the bees would be dangerous but they learn that they are also benefitting from the project.” – Mpiti, Chief in the Community of Ha Tlhaku

Beekeeping has become a source of income for impoverished communities in South Africa.

Community Connections

From a primary school to local shepherds and herdboys to an orphanage run by Nuns, diverse participants from rural communities were engaged by the project to realize their responsibilities in caring for the environment.

The participation of women and girls in the project also created an environment where they can take ownership of the project.

“This is a gold [mine]. It remains with you people who are so fortunate to have been selected for this training and also getting such a gift of bee hives, to make this a success…” –Phokeng, Patlong Councillor

Over 300 community members have been trained in beekeeping and their work has benefitted at least 2,500 families from four districts.

This images shows a drawing which illustrates the following: On average, one empowered women positevely affected eight poeple in her community

Rural communities in Lesotho continue to work towards sustainable environmental and economic futures.

The Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) provides funding for small projects developed and implemented by local organizations in developing countries around the world. Projects focus on: gender equality; the empowerment of women and girls; democratic governance; climate change and environmental sustainability, and security and stability. By responding directly to local needs, these modest contributions create a big impact in communities abroad.

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