Almost 1 in 4 Basotho face abject poverty

… the number may increase in 2020 if no relief measures are taken

METRO REPORTERS

At least 1 in 4 people face starvation due to drought that hit Lesotho in the 2018/19 farming season according to the Disaster Management Authority (DMA), the organisation charged with responsibility to manage disaster risks and their impacts.

The DMA also identify and provide early warning mechanisms, preparedness and emergency responses.

According to the MDA, at least 487 857 people are currently considered to be food insecure as a result of drought experienced by Lesotho for 2018/19 agricultural season.

It indicates that the rural populations are the worst affected out of which an estimated 28 percent making total of 407 191 affected in comparison to 15 percent of the urban population to a total of 80 666 affected.

DMA and partners conducted a rapid assessment analysis in March, with the aim of projecting immediate needs and impacts on various sectors, as well as to provide the government and other stakeholders with information and recommendations for decision making to establish appropriate interventions to assist the affected population.

It notes that the preliminary results of the Lesotho Vulnerability Committee (LVAC 2019) released in March show that the late onset of rainfall resulted in the agricultural season starting later than normal since the rainfall received in all districts was below average from September to November which is the normal time for planting most crops.

Additionally, the statement indicates that this has resulted in most of the crops not reaching the expected stages of growth during the cropping season and a decline in crop production of an estimated 21 percent.

As a result, the report notes that the drought has impacted main income sources with a considerable decline in crop and livestock sales whereby crop sales have decreased by about 64 percent, while weeding by 53 percent while sales of livestock products decreased by 70 percent.

The statement further states that the country is already experiencing a food gap of 25. 255metric tonnes of grain which will require M203 728 million to address the food needs of the affected population. The government is therefore concerned that the food security situation is expected to deteriorate further in the country from July 2019 to June 2020 with the food insecure population projected to increase to 640 000.

Therefore, the statement highlights that the government is already working with its partners to address the needs of all the affected Basotho and mitigate the impacts across the country.

Meanwhile, the worst affected districts are reported to be Mohale’s Hoek, Quthing, Mokhotlong and Berea.

However, the government and united Nations (UN) have already taken early actions to deliver urgent lifesaving multi-sectoral emergency assistance to severely food insecure households and to address the impacts of drought and erratic rainfall that are affecting the population.

Speaking at the media briefing in Maseru on Tuesday, Salvator Niyonzima, UN Resident Coordinator to Lesotho, said the districts of Mohale’s Hoek, Maseru, Quthing and Qacha’s Nek would be given preference.

He disclosed that the following UN agencies: International Organisation of Migration (IOM), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), World Food Programme (WFP) and World Health Organisation (WHO) have since January mobilised over M80 million from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) in order to address priority humanitarian needs in nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene, agriculture, food security, health and protection.

“WE first decided to deliver lifesaving multi-sectoral emergency assistance to most vulnerable communities which include elderly people, orphans and people living with disability, whereby he noted that they want to help the communities to be self-resilient. The projects funded under this modality are expected to be implemented until June,” he said.

According to the DMA Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Haretsebe Mahosi the organisation is currently ensuring that the affected areas shall access the effectiveness of humanitarian and lifesaving interventions ongoing.

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