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Environmental Crime Legal Framework In Lesotho

Chapter 3 of Lesotho’s Constitution contains provisions for the protection of the environment. Section 36 reads: Lesotho shall adopt policies designed to protect and enhance the natural and cultural environment of Lesotho for the benefit of both present and future generations and shall endeavour to assure to all citizens a sound and safe environment adequate for their health and well-being.

December 2005: The Afghan cabinet approved legislation which confers legal power to govern and protect the environment. The Environment Act designates administrative roles at the national level and coordination among its 34 provinces, creating a framework for governing natural resource conservation and biodiversity, pollution control, and law enforcement.

Section 27 states Lesotho shall improve environmental and industrial hygiene. Domestic executive decision-making bodies include:

  • Department of the Environment
  • Ministry of Forestry, Range and Soil Conservation
  • The Department of Soil and Water Conservation
  • The Department of Forestry
  • Ministry of Water and Environmental Affairs
  • Water Commission
  • The Department of Rural water Supply (DRWS)
  • The Department of Water Affairs
  • The Lesotho Lowlands Water Supply Scheme Unit (LLWSSU
  • Featured Legislation

    1998: The Lesotho National Environment Policy  was signed, creating a general framework for environmental protection in the country.

    1999: The Water Resources Management Policy was adopted and was set out to be updated every five years to accommodate domestic and international changes and challenges. Since 1999 a number of changes have taken place: the Government of Lesotho has adopted the National Vision 2020, the Poverty Reduction Strategy and Millennium Development Goals.

    2007: The Lesotho Water and Sanitation Policy  was created to regulate water quality and seek measures to improve the sanitation of water sources.

    2008: The Environment Act was passed, making provisions for the conservation and management of the environment and the sustainable use of natural resources in Lesotho. The Act consists of 116 sections divided into 16 Parts: Preliminary (I); General Principles (II); Institutional Arrangements (III); Environmental Planning (IV); Environmental Impact Assessment, Audits and Monitoring (V); Environmental Quality Standards (VI); Pollution Control (VII); Spill and Environmental Emergency (VIII); Environmental Management (IX); Environmental Restoration Notice and Order (X); Inspection and Record (XI); International Environmental Conventions (XII); Information, Education and Public Awareness (XIII); Environmental Tribunal (XIV); Offences (XV); Miscellaneous (XVI). The Act sets out principles of environmental management and establishes the National Environment Council, which shall carry out functions set out in section 8. The Act shall be administered by the Department of Environment and there shall also be an Environment Coordinating Committee with an Environment Officer in every district. Each Line Ministry shall establish within the Ministry an environmental unit. A Line Ministry is a ministry, department, parastatal or agency, which by law is charged with environmental protection. The Director of the Department of Environment shall every five years prepare a National Environmental Action Plan in consultation with Line Ministries. An environment impact assessment or strategic environmental assessment shall be undertaken on projects and activities specified in the First Schedule to this Act. The Director shall be responsible for review of environmental assessment and for the carrying out of environmental monitoring and audit. T

    2008: The Water Act was adopted, ensuring the state takes measures to protect their drinking water supplies through prevention and proper management.

    2012: The Lesotho Electricity Authority (Application for Licenses) Rules were tabled. These Regulations, made under sections 34 and 35 of the Lesotho Electricity Authority Act, concern procedures for obtaining a license to generate, transmit, distribute, supply or import and export electricity from the Lesotho Electricity Authority. An application for a license shall be accompanied by a summary providing the effect of the business on environment and human health. The Authority shall, within fourteen days of receipt of the application made pursuant to rule 3, publish a notice in respect of the application. Such notice shall contain information on likely effects of the business on the environment and human health. An environmental impact assessment license shall be provides for an operational authorisation or permit.

    2015: The Lesotho Energy Policy was unveiled. This Policy  is made with the vision that energy shall be universally accessible and affordable in a sustainable manner, with minimal negative impact on the environment. The Policy is aimed at contributing towards the improvement of livelihoods, contributing towards economic growth and investment, ensuring security of supply and contributing towards the protection of the environment. The Policy makes the following statements, and creates specific objectives and strategies for their realization, including; government will introduce appropriate institutional and regulatory framework for the management and development of the energy sector; government will ensure that sufficient information and data on all energy resources become available and are regularly updated; government will ensure sustainable supply of bioenergy resources; government will improve access to renewable energy services and technologies; government will promote energy efficient practices and equipment in all sectors of the economy; government will ensure the security of electricity supply in the country; government will develop and sustain a reliable and efficient transmission network in order to avoid interruptions in the power supply; government will increase access to electricity for all socio-economic sectors to meet electrification targets within the framework of reliability, affordability and efficiency; government will ensure transparent and competitive electricity market operations where participating players have equal opportunities; government desires to ensure more connections and utilization of electricity by end-users; government will take measures to ensure security of supply of petroleum products; government will ensure petroleum products are available and equitably distributed across the country; government will ensure wider access to petroleum products and related services accessible to the end-users; government will create an enabling environment that will attract investment and financing at all levels of the energy sector value chain; and, government will ensure that energy prices allow cost-recovery and that price setting is transparent. The Policy includes a graphical proposed model for the energy sector and roles of the institutions in the energy sector.

    Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

    • In September 2021: The Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Culture (MTEC) introduced Environmental Community Policing forums through its “Strengthening Partnerships” initiative. The effort aims to govern sustainable plastic life-cycle management in Lesotho by enforcing the law to conserve the environment. MTEC Principal Secretary (PS) Moliehi Moejane revealed that the partnership will tackle emerging and escalating environmental related challenges in the context of plastic and other waste or pollution pathways. The project will also  empower both the police and community to take responsibility for environmental protection. One of the pillars of the project will mandate participation in the prevention of environmental crime through environmental education, practical interpretation of the environmental laws and engaging in public on environment management awareness processes. Community policing forums serve as an existing administrative structure, helping the ministry enforce the laws in order to conserve and preserve the environment. MTEC has seen an uptick in environmental crimes such as the burning of rangelands, illegal dumping, and the harvesting of medical plants and animals and community policing workshops will be held to raise awareness about said crimes, establishing communication channels and pilot environmental policing systems. One growing concern for MTEC is the overharvesting of species such as the Artemisia/African wormwood (‘Lengana’are) during the COVID-19 pandemic due to its alleged health benefits if consumed.

    References and Further Reading


    The Ministry of Tourism Environment and Culture, Department of Environment: info@environment.gov.ls.