RSDA was first registered as a non-governmental organisation (NGO) with the Lesotho Government on 9 December 1991. Our origins, however, date back to 1984 when the German development organisation Welthungerhilfe (German Agro Action) came to Lesotho to implement the Food Security Assistance Project, a food-for-work intervention.

Over time, it became clear to the Basotho and German Agro Action staff implementing this project that the ‘food-for-work’ approach was not delivering true food security for the Lesotho people. A new ‘self help’ approach (later adopted by German Agro Action as its philosophy worldwide) was pioneered in 1991 – and Rural Self-Help Development Association (RSDA) was created to implement it.

The newly-formed RSDA aimed to empower rural Basotho communities by avoiding handouts and providing useful support without destroying the self-initiative, self-determination and self-responsibility of communities in their own development.

In the early years, German Agro Action was RSDA’s principle donor, although staff also implemented projects for the Lesotho Government and other donors. German Agro Action staff continued to work at RSDA until 1993 and partially funded RSDA until 2004.

Today, RSDA continues to carry out projects for a variety of donors using the self-help principles that were first developed by its Basotho and German Agro Action staff.