Lesotho seeks M345 million for drought relief

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Pascalinah Kabi

PRIME Minister Pakalitha Mosisili is set to meet development partners tomorrow as the country seeks M345 million for drought relief.

According to Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing, the premier would meet representatives of various development agencies in Maseru.

Lesotho is in the throes of its worst 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.

Under El Niño, parts of South America experience heavy rainfall, while dry conditions prevail in Australia, south-east Asia and southern Africa.

In Lesotho, El Niño’s combination of very hot and dry conditions between December 2015 and January 2016 drastically reduced agricultural yields and left thousands food insecure.

As a result, the premier declared a state of emergency on 22 December  to coordinate drought mitigation efforts.

Mr Metsing said Lesotho needed “at least M500 million” for the drought relief programme, adding government had already set aside M155 million for that purpose.

“The government has set aside M155 million which has already been allocated to the most affected sectors,” he said.

“A total of M131 million has been allocated to the Ministry of Water, M10 million to the Agriculture and Food Security ministry while the Ministry of Health will get M13 million.”

The deputy premier said the government would ask development partners to assist in raising the shortfall.

“The government is preparing to submit a request to its development partners, friends of Lesotho and non-governmental organisations,” he said.

“The prime minister will meet with them on Friday to see how best they can help with the remaining amount of money needed for our drought relief programme.”

Mr Metsing said the majority of Basotho were still unable to access clean water despite the rains experienced over the past weeks.

“We are still in a state of emergency, and the government has taken drastic steps to address the attendant problems which include the outbreak of diseases among both humans and animals as a result of consuming unclean water,” he said.

According to a report compiled last November by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and dubbed “Lesotho Vulnerability Assessment Committee Results”, 463 939 people were food insecure.

The report noted that from the 463 939 food insecure people, 179 944 were in need of immediate assistance.

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