THE German government has donated €1, 5 million to the World Food Programme (WFP) initiative aimed at supporting vulnerable people in Lesotho who are struggling to meet their basic food needs amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
The donation, which was handed over by the Federal Foreign Office, comes barely a month after Germany donated US$1 million to enable the WFP to assist 44 000 Basotho who are experiencing food shortages in the Mokhotlong, Thaba Tseka, Maseru and Qacha’s Nek districts.
In a weekend statement, WFP said the latest donation “will improve access to food and ensure that vulnerable people, including women, have access to an adequate and nutritious diet in times of need, particularly during the lean season, more commonly referred to as the period between planting and harvesting”.
“The assistance to the identified people will be through monthly cash transfers via mobile money and commodity voucher assistance. WFP aims to assist 122 000 food insecure people through emergency response assistance until the end of the lean season in March 2022 with monthly cash transfers via mobile money and commodity vouchers. Beneficiaries receive US$47 per month to help meet their basic food needs. Presently, the available funding will allow WFP to assist a total of 44 000 food insecure people.”
Andreas Pesche, the German ambassador to Lesotho, South Africa and eSwatini, said, “Germany hopes that this funding will contribute to mitigating the suffering of vulnerable people at a time when more of them are in need of humanitarian assistance”.
“We commend WFP for its continuous efforts to improve the lives of vulnerable people in the southern Africa region,” Mr Pesche said.
WFP Lesotho Country Director, Aurora Rusiga, expressed gratitude for the donation.
“WFP welcomes this timely and generous contribution from the people of Germany to enable us to respond to the most urgent humanitarian needs across the country, especially during the difficult times of the Covid-19 pandemic which has impacted already vulnerable groups in Lesotho, driving them into increased food insecurity.
“This contribution from Germany will go a long way in assisting vulnerable people who are finding it increasingly difficult to put food on the table and in dire need of support,” Rusiga said.
The WFP initiative comes against at a time when four out of the country’s 10 districts, including Maseru, are experiencing a “food crisis” due to the depletion of grain from the 2020/21 harvest.
The crisis is expected to continue until April 2022 when most households begin harvesting grain from their subsistence farming activities. Until then, most families will be heavily dependent on food aid to prevent outright starvation.
This according to the October 2021 Lesotho Remote Monitoring Report produced by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET).
FEWS NET is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides reports on the food situation in 28 countries including Lesotho.
FEWS NET uses the Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) system which has different categories for the classification of the food security situation in different countries.
Countries in IPC Phase 1 are those with minimal food insecurity while those in IPC Phase 2 are said to be in a “stressed” situation. Those in IPC Phase 3 are in a “crisis” while those in Phase 4 are experiencing a “famine”.