May 28, 2021 – A team of local PEP researchers held a national policy conference to promote policies that can reduce the vulnerability of rural women smallholders to extreme weather events in Lesotho.
The team brought together over 35 policy stakeholders and advisors, academics, and representatives of civil society and journalists for the discussion. Government attendees included representatives of the Ministries of Agriculture and Food Security; of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation; of Tourism, Environment and Culture; of Labour and Employment; as well as the National Agricultural Commission, Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Rural Self-help Development Association.
The PEP team presented findings and recommendations from their PEP project that investigated ways to Improve rural women’s coping strategies in the face of floods and droughts in Lesotho. See PEP Policy Brief 238 for policy analysis and recommendations.
Team members explained that the vast majority of Lesotho’s rural population engages in smallholder farming, but floods and droughts have caused agricultural production and productivity to plummet over the last three decades. Women are especially vulnerable to the shocks of extreme weather events as economic and cultural factors mean they have limited coping strategies, further reducing productivity and threatening living standards.
The PEP team showed how programmes to support and promote agricultural activities that are less vulnerable to extreme weather events, such as livestock farming, may help rural women and their households maintain their living standards during periods of drought or floods.
The importance of the team’s findings was recognised by those in attendance. The Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security commended the team for their work, stating that it is very important and will inform the development of the National Agricultural Policy and other national development strategies, including the Instrument-Based National Agricultural Investment Plan.
Four journalists attended with the Lesotho National Broadcasting Services—the state-owned television broadcaster—reporting from the event and raising the profile of the team’s results and recommendations among the general public.
The research team organized the event with financial and advisory support from PEP.