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US govt pours M185m in drought relief


Ambassador Harrington assists in the distribution of food in Leribe

UNITED States Ambassador to Lesotho, Matthew Harrington, visited the Ha-Ntsoakele community in Leribe District to highlight the more than $14.1 million (M185 million) in drought-related assistance to Lesotho. 

During his visit, Ambassador Harrington met with community members working together to improve sustainable agriculture by combating soil erosion.  The community members are also receiving humanitarian food assistance in the form of maize meal, pinto beans, and cooking oil.

The humanitarian food assistance project is supported by the American people through the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Food for Peace programme.  Implemented by World Vision International, the project is providing over 7 000 metric tons of food assistance to 113 500 people in drought-affected communities in five districts across the country.

Based on the food-for-assets model, the project is designed to address food insecurity during the critical lean season, while building community resilience through projects such as donga reclamation, construction or rehabilitation of water harvesting structures, and tree planting. The project is also supporting training on malnutrition screening and providing supplementary feeding to approximately 4 000 children under five years and 3 000 pregnant and lactating women showing signs of malnutrition.

In addition to humanitarian food assistance, the US government is partnering with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the UN.  Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to support agricultural and livelihood recovery, including distributing seeds and other agricultural inputs, training farmers in conservation agriculture techniques, and providing emergency livestock assistance to mitigate the effects of the drought on livestock production.  These activities are managed through USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, and complement activities supported since March 2016 to improve access to safe drinking water in acutely drought-affected areas and conduct hygiene trainings to limit the spread of waterborne illness.

A third component of US drought relief has been provided through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).  Under this component, the US government is helping ensure the food security of people living with HIV (PLHIV) and orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in drought-affected areas. This assistance helps mitigate the effects of the drought with special focus on PLHIV who are on anti-retroviral treatment and need to take their medications with food.

This drought relief support in Lesotho is an element of broader US government-funded activities to support drought relief throughout the region. The United States is the largest provider of humanitarian assistance for the El Niño-related drought response in southern Africa. – Own Correspondent


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