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European Commission donates M93 million to Lesotho

Bereng Mpaki

THE European Commission (EC) has donated M93 million (€4.8 million) to Lesotho to help in fighting the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and provide drought relief.

The EC announced the donation in a statement last week. The assistance for Lesotho is part of the organisation’s €64.7 million package for the southern Africa region.

The EC is the executive branch of the European Union (EU). It is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding EU treaties and managing the day-to-day business of the EU.

The EC said the funding would target food relief for vulnerable households and helping farmers in the affected areas restore their means of subsistence. It will also target coronavirus prevention and preparedness actions to support local health systems and facilitate access to health care, protective equipment, sanitation and hygiene.

The funding will target disaster preparedness projects that also cover new needs brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. These include strengthening early warning systems and evacuation plans for communities that are at risk of natural hazards, and having emergency stocks of personal protective equipment. The initiative will also provide support for children’s education training teaching staff.

“The European Commission is providing €64.7 million in humanitarian aid for countries in the southern Africa region to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, extreme weather conditions – such as persistent droughts in the region – and other crises,” the EC said.

EC commissioner for crisis management, Janez Lenar?i?, said the funding would provide life-saving assistance to impoverished households suffering from crop and livestock losses due to droughts.

“The aid package will also strengthen the preparation and response to the coronavirus pandemic for the region. In parallel, the EU is helping communities better prepare for natural hazards and reduce their impact,” Mr Lenar?i? said.

In the case of Lesotho, the EU humanitarian funding will provide life-saving assistance to vulnerable households in communities hardest hit by the drought. They will be provided with food and nutrition assistance, together with improving access to clean water and sanitation, and agricultural inputs and technical support for agriculture reliant households.

Support will also be given to the national coronavirus response through actions focusing on the strengthening preparedness and control measures. Further support is aimed at stepping up the national and communities’ capacities for disaster preparedness.

Other countries to receive the EC funding are Angola (€3 million), Botswana (€1.95 million), Comoros (€500,000), Eswatini (€2.4 million), Madagascar (€7.3 million), Malawi (€7.1 million), Mauritius (€250,000), Mozambique (€14.6 million), Namibia (€2 million), Zambia (€5 million) and Zimbabwe (€14.2 million). A further €1.6 million has been allocated to regional disaster preparedness actions.

The allocation for Lesotho is €4.8 million (approximately M93 million). The €4.8 million is in addition to €1.5 million of humanitarian aid in January this year.

Negotiations are already underway with different organisations to implement the project with food distribution expected to start in the next few weeks.

The programme will target Maseru, Mafeteng, Mohale’s Hoek, Quthing and Qacha’s Nek, the districts that are facing the highest food shortages.

The beneficiaries will be identified through the National Information System for Social Assistance (NISSA) and special focus will be on vulnerable groups such as single-parent households and the elderly.

 

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