The OPEC Fund for International Development has become the largest supporter of a program that would generate sustainable livelihoods in Lesotho with a $19 million loan. The “Regeneration of Landscape and Livelihood Project” (ROLL) will benefit rural people in the southern African country, whose economy is mostly focused on agriculture, with 70 percent of rural households depending on it.
The purpose of ROLL is for rural communities to adopt transformative techniques for regenerated landscapes and sustainable livelihoods. For this, the initiative aims at adjusting behaviors of using resources, the reduction of environmental degradation, the enhancement of livelihoods, and secure finance for landscape regeneration.
The initiative will be rolled out in northern, northwestern, central, and southern parts of Lesotho, spanning over 2,240 communities and directly helping 100,000 people equating to 68,000 rural families, and indirectly reaching approximately 340,000 people. Out of them, 40 percent will be women and 20 percent young people who are expected to notably benefit from the introduction of new revenue-generating businesses.
Abdulhamid Alkhalifa, Director-General, OPEC Fund: ”We are proud to commit with partner organizations to support this innovative, inclusive and important project. By adopting sustainable land management practices, leading to better integration of the agricultural ecosystem, strengthening of climate change resilience, and diversification of household incomes, rural communities will be able to transform landscapes and livelihoods, reversing the downward spiral of over-exploited natural resources, declining productivity, poor nutrition, and increased poverty.”
The OPEC Fund is joining the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Global Environment Facility, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the government of Lesotho, and others in support of the program. Half of Lesotho’s 2.1 million population lives below the national poverty line ($1.65/day) and the country experiences a “rural-urban divide” with a rural poverty rate of 61 percent according to IFAD. Access to arable land is considered one of the major challenges for the country’s development.