The World Bank on Thursday approved grant funding worth US $15.24 million to the governments of South Africa and Lesotho for a five-year cross-border development project.
The Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Conservation and Development Project would focus its activities in about 13,000 km2 along Lesotho’s eastern boundary with South Africa, the World Bank said in a statement. “The area contains exceptional biodiversity and rock art straddling the borders of the two countries, and also holds exciting opportunities for economic development based on natural and cultural resources. On the South African side, a substantial part of the project area has been listed as a World Heritage site, and there is the potential for collaborative work to secure similar areas within Lesotho,” the statement said.
The project was a long-term collaborative initiative between the two governments to protect the exceptional biodiversity of the Drakensberg and Maloti mountains through conservation, sustainable resource and land-use and development planning, it added. The bank said the project would be funded by the Global Environment Facility, which supports organisations that conserve biodiversity. While the key objective was the conservation of the area’s unique biodiversity, the programme would support the development of small business involved in eco-tourism and job creation flowing from conservation, the bank added.
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