The member of parliament for the Qaqatu constituency, Lethusang Kompi, has urged government to demonstrate its commitment to interventions aimed at mitigating the negative effects of climate change by increasing the funding for such initiatives.
Mr Kompi who is a member of the parliamentary portfolio committee for natural resources, tourism and land, said he was worried by the government decision to reduce the budget allocation for the 2019/20 financial year for the construction of construct soil catchments.
The allocation has been reduced to M68 million down from M96 million in the 2018/19 financial year.
The construction of construct soil catchments is part of nation-wide community-based interventions aimed at mitigating the negative effects of climate change.
Mr Kompi made the remarks on the sidelines of a recent ceremony in Mohale’s Hoek that was held to launch a manual for adapting to climate change for schools.
The legislator said even though there would always be competing interests for the scare fiscal resources, the government had to get its priorities right.
“The government must allocate more funding towards climate change interventions,” Mr Kompi told the Sunday Express on the sidelines of the event.
“We understand that they have financial constraints at the moment but there has to be a balance. We cannot have a situation where the allocation for international trips by government officials is increased while we decrease the allocations for climate change interventions.
Mr Kompi bemoaned the reduction of the budget for the construction of soil catchments which happened at time when the budget for allocation for international trips was increased to M3 million for the 2019/20 financial year, up from the M1, 2 million of the previous financial year.
The 2019/20 budget allocation for the entire Ministry of Forestry, Range and Soil Conservation was also reduced from last year’s M193, 2 million to M155, 8 million for the new financial year.
On her part, the Deputy Principal Secretary of the Forestry ministry, Lesimole Moletsane, said the manual had been introduced at an opportune time when Lesotho is grappling with the deleterious effects of climate change.
She implored teachers to ensure that the manual is put to good use, saying, “we need to double our current efforts if we are to successfully adapt to the negative effects of climate change”.
The manual was developed with the financial assistance of the Global Environment Fund (GEF) under a pilot project called Reducing Vulnerability from Climate Change (RVCC) in the Foothills, Lowlands and Lower Senqu River Basin.
Ms Moletsane said the manual would assist in training schools and the public on how to respond to challenges brought on by climate change.
The RVCC, which is an intervention of the Forestry ministry of supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), seeks to mainstream climate risk considerations into the National Land Rehabilitation Programme for improved ecosystem resilience and reduced vulnerability of livelihoods to climate change shocks.
The project is being implemented in the three community councils of Lithipeng, Thaba Mokhele, and Khoelenya in Mohale’s Hoek.
Ms Moletsane further said that they had targeted school children to be pioneers of climate change adaptation because they were victims of climate change developments and could easily share the knowledge with the rest of the society.
The Acting Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Training, Phatsa Motsoene, said the manual will enable the teachers to integrate climate change education within the curriculum in subjects like physics, agriculture, geography and development studies.
“This country is vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change because it is heavily dependent on the productive sectors that are sensitive on climate change such as manufacturing, construction and agriculture with fewer resources for adaptation.
“As such, it is anticipated that countries like Lesotho will suffer far reaching effects of climate change which affect their ability to achieve sustainable development,” Mr Motsoene said.
For her part, the UNDP resident representative in Lesotho, Christy Ahenkora, said climate change was real and dealing with it is a responsibility of all sections of society.
She expressed her appreciation for the contributions by several stakeholders that culminated in the launch of the manual.
“I am impressed by the good work and partnership by all the stakeholders in fighting climate change,” Ms Ahenkora said.
Sister Paulina Selele, the Principal of Holy Cross High School which falls under the Khoelenya Council, said the RVCC project had helped them to come up with strategies to address the negative effects of climate change on their school.
She said their classrooms had been in danger of being destroyed through gully erosion that was caused by the run-off from the heavy rains but they were now taking corrective measures learned in the RVCC project.