Villagers appeal for food, cash aid
. . . as WFP to discontinue programme in June
VILLAGERS in Butha-Buthe district have pleaded with the World Food Programme (WFP) to continue its cash and food assistance programme which is now scheduled to end in June this year.
The cash and food assistance programme was launched in response to the government’s plea to development partners to assist food insecure people who had been affected by the El Nino drought in 2015.
The drought affected crop and livestock production, leaving an estimated 709 000 people in urgent need of food assistance.
The programme – which started in October last year in Butha-Buthe – was initially scheduled to end this month, but WFP Country Director Mary Njoroge told the villagers during an outreach event on Thursday that it would continue until June.
The outreach was meant to ascertain the impact of the cash and food assistance programme among the beneficiaries and the strategies they had to fend for their families once it was discontinued.
Some of the beneficiaries told the Sunday Express they were not yet ready to be weaned from the cash and food assistance programme since they were still food insecure.
Mapalesa Poso said she had come to depend on the M400 she received since October 2016 to support her three children.
“This cash assistance has had a positive impact on my life and that of my family because I am able to put food on the table and we never go to bed with empty stomachs,” Ms Poso said.
Another beneficiary, Makabelo Maesela from Joala-Boholo, said she was able buy food and other basic needs of her children with the M500 assistance given unemployed.
“Sometimes I also use the money to pay for my children’s school fees. For example, I am going to leave the money I am getting today at the bank because it is time to pay for my child’s school fees who is doing Form 5,” Ms Maesela said.
“I mostly survive on temporary work such as providing laundry services and cleaning homes. The money from the WFP was supplementing my erratic income.”
For her part, Mapalesa Selia said she used the food aid to take care of three double orphans she was raising.
“I receive food assistance which plays an important role in this family because it supplements the vegetables I grow in my garden,” she said.
“Besides that, I am a busy woman doing various temporary jobs so that we can have something to eat with my children.”
In his remarks, Butha-Buthe District Administrator Matlotlo Ramaboli said the cash and food assistance programme had greatly assisted residents of the district in light of last year’s drought.
He said the food assistance was mostly given to people living on the outskirts of Butha-Buthe district.
“As for the cash beneficiaries, they were given money because they were closer to town and able to do their own groceries,” Ms Ramaboli said, adding 13 662 people received food aid while 9 022 received cash assistance.
Ms Njoroge said Lesotho was experiencing its worst food security crisis in recent years, with 709 000 of the country’s two million people in need of urgent food assistance.
Ms Njoroge said from October 2016 to June 2017 WFP would assist 200 000 food insecure people in seven districts, namely Mafeteng, Mohale’s Hoek, Butha-Buthe, Quthing, Thaba-Tseka and Berea through food and cash assistance.
She said the programme was supposed to end this month, but would be continued to June to coincide with the government subsidy.
“The WFP relief assistance component will end in June 2017. Resilience-based activities will continue, subject to funding availability,” Ms Njoroge said.
“Ongoing assistance is made possible through the generosity of Switzerland, the Netherlands, Australia, Japan, Ukaid, European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations and the United Nations Central Emergency Fund.”
She said WFP monitoring had confirmed that food insecure people had utilised the cash assistance to buy food commodities and avoided negative coping strategies.
Ms Njoroge also revealed that they had been providing the assistance in partnership with Standard Lesotho Bank, World Vision Lesotho and Lesotho Red Cross.
“WFP provides M100 per person, per month for food and M12 for transport. The level of assistance is dependent on the number of people per household. The new guidelines considered the government subsidy on maize meal and pulses and the cost of transport,” she added.
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