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A Framework – To Guide an Ecosystem Approach for Integrated Water Resources Management in Lesotho

Purpose of this Ecosystem Approach Framework

This Framework provides a guideline on how to apply an Ecosystem Approach to IWRM in Lesotho. It recommends a range of key components and processes that address the 12 Ecosystem Approach Principles. The components incorporated in this Framework therefore include a wide range of aspects that reflect societal priorities. They include not only aspects relating to the natural environment, but also social livelihoods, economic and market aspects, as well as governance and capacity aspects.

An Ecosystem Approach is a flexible, dynamic approach that is adapted based on the context in which it is applied. Its implementation will vary in every situation. The value of the Approach is its ability to be molded to suit a specific context, and its adaptive nature encourages IWRM to be reviewed and updated over time.

This Framework has been developed with a focus specifically on water resources management in Lesotho. It has been developed by drawing on experience from local case studies, and from international lessons and best practice.

The Framework aims to provide guidance to applying an Ecosystem Approach to facilitate a participatory, integrated and adaptive approach to IWRM. The process is inclusiveinvolving not only a range of relevant government authorities but also of a range of non-state actor and stakeholders.

The Framework is therefore designed to provide the ‘recipe’ for an Ecosystem Approach for IWRM, including important information on both the ‘ingredients’ and the ‘method’ for application. The Framework is recommended as the guideline rather than a ‘blue print’. The aim is to provide guidance on what needs to be included, who needs to be involved, and how it can be undertaken.


The Framework has been developed as a component of the project titled ‘A Water Secure Future for Southern Africa – Applying the Ecosystem Approach in the Orange-Senqu Basin’. The Project was led by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The Project aims to enhance the quality and quantity of water throughout the Orange-Senqu River system to satisfy the needs of the ecosystem, communities and economies relying upon the river and its associated resources.  Pilot projects were undertaken in each of the four Orange-Senqu Basin states (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa):

  • Botswana – implementation led by Kalahari Conservation Society (KCS)
  • Lesotho – implementation led by Serumula Development Association (SDA) in partnership with the Institute of Natural Resources (INR)
  • Namibia – implementation led by the Desert Research Foundation of Namibia (DRFN)
  • South Africa – implementation led by the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT)

The overarching goal for the Lesotho Pilot Project, implemented by Serumula Development Association in partnership with the Institute of Natural Resources, was to enhance mainstreaming the Ecosystem Approach into Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM). The project objectives included:

  • Demonstrate enhanced social and ecological resilience in hotspots in the basin (i.e. Lesotho Highlands) by integrating the Ecosystem Approach in transboundary water management; and
  • Enhance capacity of key actors to engage effectively in multi-stakeholder processes and negotiate and dialogue towards improved water resources management.

Framework Products

A number of supporting documents have been developed to provide information in support of the Framework:

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