Libono, FMNR and Tourism!
September 26, 2017
By Makhera Kalele, Program Officer, FMNR, World Vision South Africa
LIBONO situated in Butha Buthe District, about 134 Km North-East of Maseru, the country’s capital town in Ngoajane B02 council. Libono has a rich history of hunter gatherers hunting wild animals. Told by bushmen and depicted beautifully on the walls of the caves are numerous drawings of the animals that were seen or stalked.
The LIBONO NATURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT Project, a community lead endeavour, was created with the aim of developing alternative livelihoods for the community. Being a place of historical value, the community decided on initiating tourism as a source of income. However, years of intense grazing and land clearing left hills and hectares of land barren, unsuitable for any activity and unattractive to tourists. To fulfil its plan, the community embarked on activities to address land degradation and its negative effects. They received training in FMNR in 2016 from Haletsoela youth group in the District.
The group of 24 members consulted with local authorities and gained legal recognition as an Association. The members meet twice a week at the site to discuss and equip themselves with practices on how to curb Land degradation, preserve nature, identify and protect native species, learn new skills such as bee-keeping.
The Association established a site for their FMNR activities and drew bylaws to create social fencing. Situated close to Tsoaing river, the site is an ideal place to initiate tourism activities. The community have made plans to create facilities for campers, building traditional accommodation and preparing cultural food for visitors, offering guided tours, and recreational activities such as horse riding. The Ministry of Tourism Environment and Culture has been supporting the community in terms of financing some of the costs and providing training and expert advice on the community’s new venture.
The project is intending to also be a learning centre for nearby schools for children to learn about FMNR and management of natural environment.
“We are planning to use this FMNR site to demonstrate and explain to children the benefits and potential of FMNR in restoring environment. We are planning to build strong partnership with the school and Ministry of Tourism and Forestry.” Says One group member.
“This project has been such an eye opener to us on how best use available resources to make a living. There are already signs of multiplier effect where farmers are now promoting the model to other farmers in the region.”