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close this bookToward Sustainable Management of Natural Resources: Effectiveness of the Range Management Area Program in Lesotho (ADF, 1996, 33 pages)
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View the documentForeword
View the documentIntroduction
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View the documentResearch objectives
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View the documentDiscussion of findings
View the documentSummary
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Conclusion

I. HOLISTIC APPROACH TO SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES

The RMA program has usefully addressed the problem of improving management of communal grazing resources in Lesotho. The program has created institutions and relatively comprehensive supporting policies, both important for laying a solid foundation for present and future development. The program has also encouraged a decentralized process for policy implementation through the creation of community-based associations responsible for managing community grazing resources.

However, from a sustainable development perspective, the RMA program has several shortcomings. While sustainable development was described by the World Commission of Environment and Development (1987) as "...development that meets the needs of present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs...," the RMA program as a vehicle for understanding and achieving sustainable development is questionable on the basis that the program has limited its efforts only to improve range and livestock management rather than management of natural resources as a whole. The RMA program does not also address socioeconomic, political, and cultural interests of natural resources to the segment of the RMA community which does not own any livestock. In this context, the program also fails to adequately address the interests of non-livestock owners as integral users of common natural resources. Sustainable management and development of natural resources within a community depend on the program's success in identifying and satisfying the needs and goals of a community as a whole, and not only to some of its segments.

By limiting its scope to range management rather than natural resources as a whole, the RMA program has isolated itself within the RMD, with negative implications. In the Ministry of Agriculture institutional setting, the program does not follow the traditional chain of communication and coordination between the headquarters and the district offices, but rather, day to day coordination of RMA activities is reported directly from the field to the headquarters in Maseru, the capital city, through state-of-the-art, two-way radios provided to the RMAs. The RMAs also have excellent vehicles exclusively for use by RMA personnel, compared to district offices, which are poorly housed, poorly equipped and lacking in resources. In this arrangement, by-passing district offices has produced the perception that the RMA program is not an integral component of the district's planning and administrative activities, a perception that has led to resistance in institutionalizing the RMA program within the districts' organizational framework. In this aspect, the RMA fails to serve as a magnet for the districts' institutions to learn how to plan and manage innovation, the very institutions that are seen as essential for providing local communities with information necessary for sustaining the program after donor assistance is phased out.

A sustainable RMA program must, therefore, encompass the technical aspects of range and livestock management and include policy, institutional, and organizational, aspects of sustainability. In this view, sustainablity for the RMA program must be understood holistically in terms of environmental, technical, social, and policy elements. Sustainablity must, therefore, be understood to mean resource sustainability and that the program activity will have positive results which continue to accrue after the grants period ends. The organizations created to implement program activities must also be sustainable. Therefore, sustainability depends on many dimensions of an activity and failure in one areas can jeopardize sustainability overall.

Based on these findings, the GOL faces a critical problem of sustaining the RMA innovation. While the RMA program endeavors must continue, its efforts must be broadened to address the wider issues of improvement and sustainability of natural resources management, and these efforts disbursed through a broader range of institutions. Lesotho, therefore, needs to embark on a holistic approach for sustainable management of natural resources. This can be achieved through GOL efforts to effectively exploit the donor community's willingness and commitment to assist Lesotho in its course for finding solutions to the persistent problem of natural resources degradation and building sustainable programs. More importantly, the GOL should move toward the formulation of comprehensive, viable, and sustainable natural resources management policies that create an enabling environment for development. These policies should in turn be supported by functional regulations. The technology used should be adaptable to local conditions and needs, and in this process, provide both technical and managerial capacity to improve adoption, implementation and sustainability of the innovation.