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Mosisili appeals for aid


  • Government needs M429 000 in drought relief
  • People in need of food assistance expected to increase from 464 000 predicted last year to 650 000

Pascalinah Kabi

Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili on Friday appealed to the country’s development partners to help government ensure that “vulnerable groups are provided with the necessary support to meet their basic needs”.

Dr Mosisili said the Disaster Management Authority (DMA) estimates that 650 000 Basotho had been left food insecure because of the prevailing El Niño-induced drought, which is Lesotho’s worst in four decades. The premier said as a result of the adverse weather, Lesotho was in need of humanitarian assistance, hence his appeal for M429, 079, 131.00 from the donor community.

“In December last year, government declared a state of drought emergency. That declaration was made in the wake of a bleak future painted by the Lesotho Meteorological Services (LMS) in their September 2015 report which indicated predominately dry weather conditions from October 2015 to March 2016,” Dr Mosisili said.

“The forecast was published against a sharp decrease in food production, which placed an estimated 464,000 people at risk of food insecurity during the 2015/16 cropping season. The number of food insecure people is currently estimated at 33 percent of our rural population.”

Dr Mosisili further said the DMA’s Lesotho Vulnerability Assessment Committee estimates the number of vulnerable people would increase to 650 000, while the food-security situation was only expected to improve in 2017 if the rainfall pattern improved for the next summer cropping season.

The premier also said signs of malnutrition were already being observed in children in Early Childhood Care and Development Centres. This situation was forcing government to make plans to address the situation by providing supplementary feeding to children under the age of five, Dr Mosisili said.

The prime minister also said Lesotho faced an outbreak of livestock diseases such as anthrax, which he noted had already been observed in some parts of the country.

“There is severe water deficiency for human, livestock and industrial purposes throughout the country. The projected El Niño weather conditions are expected to worsen the food situation and water shortage.

“In particular, livestock, crop-production and nutrition are expected to be highly compromised due to poor pasture, low food-production and limited access to potable water.

“Vulnerable groups, including the elderly and people living with HIV and AIDS, will be hardest hit, and districts with high stunting rates (Mokhotlong, Thaba-Tseka and Butha-Buthe) will also experience serious difficulties,” Dr Mosisili said.

“In light of the fore-going, it is with great humility that we present to you, the country’s consolidated appeal for humanitarian assistance which should enable government to effectively respond to these challenges.”

Dr Mosisili said the appeal for assistance would ensure vulnerable groups are provided with the necessary support to meet their basic needs.

The government, he added, had developed appropriate plans and strategies meant to respond effectively to the prevailing drought situation.

“Our key area of focus is to strengthen and speed-up implementation of the component of the National Strategic Development Plan related to Water Management and Agriculture and Food Security,” Dr Mosisili said.

“The drought effects need to be addressed urgently. As we don’t expect adequate rain during the predicted time, one of the strategies to be employed in the agriculture and food security sector is construction of small dams which will be used to collect water for animal consumption and smallscale irrigation. Our expectation is that this strategy will continue to sustain agricultural production in the long term.”

He also said government’s crucial strategies to be implemented would include the reduction of  livestock in order to preserve the over-burdened rangelands.

Dr Mosisili also said the government would assist livestock owners sell or exchange their animals because the prediction was most of the animals was likely to perish due to the drought.

Regarding food security, the premier said some of the important interventions to be engaged include strengthening social transfer strategies for chronically vulnerable people.

His administration, the premier added, was further planning to expand the public works programme to accommodate vulnerable people who can still work in soil-conservation activities.

“To respond to health, nutrition and hygiene needs, government has included lactating women and people on Antiretroviral Treatment. In addition, water-testing and purifying kits, iodine-testing kits, strengthening of existing nutrition and health monitoring systems, as well as disease surveillance will be some of the strategies employed,” the premier said.

“With regard to the scarcity of water, it will be necessary to identify and develop new water-sources, including the exploitation of underground sources, and repair broken water systems in order to make them functional. Equipment that will be used to drill, purify and transport water will be acquired to enhance the provision of water to affected areas.”

Dr Mosisili revealed that the government requires a total of M584, 079, 131.00 to procure water equipment, vaccinations, emergency food supplies, emergency medical supply, agricultural inputs and undertake various development works identified as necessary for meeting the immediate needs of the affected population.

“An amount of M155, 000. 00 is readily available from government’s own sources. This therefore, leaves a funding gap of M429, 079, 131.00 which the government of Lesotho wishes to present to you for assistance and support during this time.

“Your contribution and support will enable government to address the emergency needs from December 2015 to May 2016. The Lesotho government counts on your increased support and assistance to translate the plans and strategies it has put in place into concrete action.”

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