Experts assess impact of drought on children

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Limpho Sello

WORLD Vision Lesotho (WVL) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have partnered with the Ministry of Social Development in a week-long tour of six districts to assess the impact of the ongoing drought on the well-being of children.

WVL Advocacy and Gender Manager, Maseisa Ntlama, told the Lesotho Times this week they were collecting data during the tour to ensure they had an appropriate response plan which meets the needs of the children. Lesotho is in the throes of a severe drought in four decades as a result of El Niño – a periodic climatic phenomenon characterised by inadequate rain in some parts of the world and floods in others.

“We are currently working in Mokhotlong, Thaba-Tseka, Qacha’s Nek, Mohale’s Hoek and Mafeteng,” Ms Ntlama said.

“The evaluation is scheduled to end on Friday, and thereafter, we will compile our findings.”

She said an assessment on the drought’s impact on the country had already been carried out.

“However, it was too general, and as child-focused organisations, we saw the need to carry out a specific evaluation to find out the specific challenges affecting children,” said Ms Ntlama.

“We are not, in any way, attempting to undermine the assessment carried out by other sectors. However, we felt it was too general and would restrict us from doing our work well.”

She said the findings would be presented at a SADC forum to be held later this month in Johannesburg, South Africa, adding: “The forum is led by the Global Protection Cluster which comprises of World Vision International, UNICEF and Save the Children which are child-focused organizations.”

Ms Ntlama said they were working with community leaders to assess the challenges children were facing.

“We are interviewing community councils, area chiefs and schools because through such parties, we will be in a position to get the answers we are looking for,” she said.

“We are also speaking with some of the children to hear their experiences. Teachers are narrating to us the problems they encounter due to drought and how they impact on children’s education.

“For example, there are a number of school dropouts because of the drought and the attendant health challenges.”

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