National University of Lesotho Water Institute (NULWI) launched a new academic programme called the Master of Science in Integrated Catchment and Water Resources Management (MSc. ICWRM) on 28 July, 2023 at the Roma campus.
This 2-year academic programme is offered in the NUL Water Institute starting from July 2023. The programme has been developed as part of an Integrated Catchment Management Programme, branded ReNOKA, that the Government of Lesotho is implementing, with the financial support from the European Union and the German Government, as well as the logistical and technical guidance of Deutsche GIZ (GmbH) and WaterNet.
In his welcome remarks, the NUL Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Isaac Olusola Fajana stated that the partners are working together in a strategic partnership to strengthen applied science, innovative research and practical higher education for Integrated Catchment Management in the Kingdom of Lesotho as part of the national ReNOKA movement.
“To this end, an interdisciplinary ICWRM Master’s Programme at NUL has been established under this collaboration. The aim of this programme is to provide academic training for an effective and sustainable management of land and water resources. I cannot think of another institution better equipped to provide such training in this very important field”, said Prof. Fajana.
He further indicated that the ReNOKA Human Capacity Development Project implemented by WaterNet has made a provision of 15 full scholarships, and 5 partial scholarships for the first cohort of students enrolled in the MSc. Programme.
“On our part at the NUL, we intend to make the NUL Water Institute and its ICWRM Master’s Programme, a centre of excellence in water resources research and innovations. Therefore, we would request support from your excellencies, captains of the industry and other well-meaning development partners and institutions to make our vision a reality”, he added.
Prof. Fajana concluded his remarks with an African adage which says: Water is life, water puts out fire, but if water is not well understood and accorded its respect, it could destroy. Ultimately, water has no enemy, it gently finds its own level, charts is own course, and minds its own business.
The Principal Secretary of Ministry of Natural Resources, Mr. Habofanoe Makopela indicated that population growth and inadequate agricultural practices increase land degradation which is further exacerbated by climate change. Land degradation with erratic rainfall patterns lead to higher surface run-off rates which, in turn, lead to unpredictable usable amounts of water for economic and household activities in Lesotho and downstream.
“The solution of the Government of Lesotho in this regard is Integrated Catchment Management (ICM) as a programme, endorsed by the government of Lesotho. It is a multi-sectoral programme that envisions to overcome sectoral views and approaches by integrating all relevant stakeholders for the implementation of ICM”, Mr. Mokapela highlighted.
The Director of the NUL Water Institute, Dr. Khoboso Seutloali-Thamae gave an overview of the MSc ICWRM Programme. She explained that the project implementation was initiated with a capacity needs assessment between May and August 2022 to identify the skills and knowledge gaps in implementation of ICM among the natural resource management professionals and the capacity that is available in the academic institutions to meet those gaps. Through active engagement of professionals from ICM line ministries and tertiary academic institutions in Lesotho, the programme structure of the MSc ICWRM was developed based on the knowledge gaps that exist in Lesotho. Thereafter, the programme went through the relevant internal structures of the NUL including submission for Accreditation by Council on Higher Education.
Other speakers were stakeholders from the Ministry of Education and Training, SADC Secretariat, the European Union, ReNOKA, WaterNet as well as Regional and River Basins Organizations. They acknowledged that the ICWRM Master’s Programme is multi-sectoral and integrates approaches by all relevant stakeholders to improve Lesotho’s efforts to overcome the land and water challenges.
Activities of the launch event ended with a tour of the Metolong Visitors Centre coupled with an exhibition on “Resilient Catchments”.