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EU Lesotho leads initiative to raise awareness about river health

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The goal of the campaign, which complements the global #EUBeachCleanUp, is to emphasise the importance of the responsible disposal of waste and highlight ways to make a positive impact on the environment.

LESOTHO, Maseru – For the first time the Delegation of the European Union to the Kingdom of Lesotho joined the global #EUBeachCleanUp campaign, the EU’s global campaign to raise awareness about marine pollution launched in 2017.

The EU joined hands with its partners, ReNOKA and the Orange-Senqu River Commission (ORASECOM) – the institution responsible managing the resources of the Orange-Senqu River basin – linking the initiative to an Orange-Senqu ‘Source to Mouth’ transboundary campaign for primary school students in Lesotho and Namibia, to raise awareness about plastic pollution and its impact on the health of rivers, water quality, the wildlife and the communities who depend on these water resources.
The cleanup action of the Mohokare River, a tributary of the Orange-Senqu River at Ha Thetsane Lesia, successfully united partners, volunteers, and 200 students from four schools in Maseru and Berea in September, 2023.

Dedicated students from Makebe, Mohokare, Lesia and Sefate Sa Bophelo Primary Schools took part in the clean-up event of Mohokare. Partners from the Ministry of Natural Resources’ Department of Water Affairs, Lesotho Lowlands Water Development Project Phase II and III, UNESCO, Maseru Municipal Council, local non-governmental organisations and members of the community also participated in the clean-up.

Aligning the global initiative to the efforts of the participating partners, the campaign aims to raise awareness and to educate students on the environmental challenges of soil erosion, pollution, particularly plastic pollution, as well as river health in the basin from the source, here in Lesotho, all the way to the river mouth in Namibia.

It is estimated that up to 37 million tonnes of plastic waste will reach the ocean annually by 2040 and much of the pollution begins on land. The Orange-Senqu Source to Mouth campaign is a dedicated transboundary initiative committed to conserving water and land resources in the basin. It forms part of an overall awareness raising component of the ReNOKA programme which seeks to inform, educate and empower different target groups on rehabilitation and protection of land and water resources. The campaign encompasses various focused efforts such as clean-ups, community and school outreach, an interactive board game for students, competitions, videos and extensive out-of-home promotional activities.

Through the Source to Mouth transboundary campaign, theatre productions, quizzes and competitions have been used to get students into the spirit of environmental protection.

“The objective of the campaign is to create widespread awareness about the issue of plastic pollution through activities in the classroom and on the river. The Mohokare River is a tributary of the mighty Orange-Senqu River but sadly, like many rivers across the world, it has become polluted with plastic and other waste. +The action is meant to raise awareness in the community and in particular among students about the growing problem of plastic pollution and how we can all help by refusing, reducing, reusing and recycling plastic. We want to bring attention also on the impact of actions on the ocean, hence the association with Namibia,” said Paola Amadei, Head of the European Union Delegation to Lesotho.

Makebe Primary school Principal Rapelang Kaibe stressed the importance of educating children about plastic pollution and the role they play in reducing waste. “The health of our environment is vital for the physical and mental wellbeing of our children and society as a whole, so involving the young people in activities like this one is very important because they grow up fully informed on how they can take care of the environment,” said Kaibe.

“One of the key areas that the EU and its partners in Lesotho concentrate their work on is the sustainable management of natural resources including land and water resources. The European Union’s assistance enables citizens to play an important role in Lesotho, promoting social responsibility and participation in community-focused initiatives”, said Amadei.

This #EUBeachCleanUp day the EU helped to promote the preservation and protection of natural resources in Lesotho. The EU’s support in these critical areas is vital to improving living standards for the Basotho people and ensuring a sound basis for sustainable socio-economic development.
“This cleanup campaign values the power of collective action. It believes in the strength of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Today, remember that we’re not just cleaning up trash; we are inspiring change, we are experiencing solidarity, and shaping an environmental legacy that future generations will inherit. Today we stand together to protect our rivers, oceans, and this amazing planet we call home” concluded Mario Giuseppe Varrenti, European Union Delegation to Lesotho – Head of Cooperation.

Why this cleanup initiative
Freshwater is the most important resource for humankind, cross-cutting all social, economic and environmental activities.
Supporting data from ORASECOM’s Joint Basin Surveys (JBS) has indicated a decline in the water quality of the Orange-Senqu River.

ORASECOM has conducted three Joint Basin Surveys (JBS) to date and the surveys have found that pollution and soil erosion have had an inordinate impact on the health of the Lesotho’s river systems and the quality of the water. Access to safe drinking water and sanitation is a human right and yet, fewer people are able to access clean, potable water.

Related articles

Water Resources Quality Joint Basin Surveys (JBSs)

The Orange-Senqu River Basin – From source to sea

The third JBS, conducted in October 2021 assessed the trends in water resources quality over the last 10 years, and some of the causes behind these changes. The findings showed that overall, the water resource quality of the Orange-Senqu River System appears to have declined since JBS-1. As a result, from the concerns found by the JBS, ORASECOM is educating and training the school students to track the river health through the Citizen Science Initiative, which uses the MiniSASS tool. In Lesotho, ORASECOM is partnering with the Department of Water Affairs to carry out the Citizen Science initiative.

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