Vil­lagers find re­lief from cli­mate change

Lesotho Times - - News - Pas­cali­nah Kabi

QUTHING — Hun­gry and not know­ing where her two young chil­dren’s next meal would come from, Quthing sin­gle par­ent ‘Ma­fu­mane Mokhahlane eked out a pre­car­i­ous ex­is­tence.

Un­like in the bi­b­li­cal story where manna fell down in the early hours of the morn­ing for Is­raelites dur­ing their spir­i­tual jour­ney from Egypt to Canaan, it seemed there was never any respite to the suf­fer­ing of Ms Mokhahlane and her small fam­ily.

Even odd jobs would rarely come her way de­spite spir­ited ef­forts to find the means to take care of her fam­ily.

As if that was not enough, the mod­est har­vests from her sub­sis­tence farm­ing that used to come to her res­cue were grad­u­ally de­clin­ing as the rapidly chang­ing weather pat­terns took their toll on her vil­lage leav­ing her fam­ily hun­gry and stranded.

“I strug­gled to make a liv­ing for my fam­ily and the thought of my two chil­dren com­ing to ask where the next meal would come from tor­tured me and made my life a liv­ing hell,” the 49-year-old Ms Mokhahlane told the Le­sotho Times on Tues­day.

“My hus­band left me with two young chil­dren aged 14 and eight years old, and it im­me­di­ately be­came ev­i­dent to me that I was in for tor­rid time in try­ing to feed and look af­ter my chil­dren as an unemployed sin­gle mother.”

Un­be­known to Ms Mokhahlane, the chang­ing weather pat­terns which had rav­aged the fields had a sil­ver lin­ing for her and fel­low Ha Rakhomo vil­lagers in Quthing.

“I was se­lected as one of the ben­e­fi­cia­ries of a poul­try farm­ing ini­tia­tive in which we were given stress tol­er­ant chick­ens called Bo‘Mal­itśibana,” she said.

“Ini­tially each one of us was sup­posed to re­ceive 21 chick­ens but we ended up get­ting 17. Un­for­tu­nately, one of the 17 died and I am now left with 4 cocks and 12 hens,” Mokhahlane said.

Bo-‘mal­itśibana is part of ini­tia­tives to re­duce the im­pact of cli­mate change. It is co-funded by the Le­sotho gov­ern­ment and United Na­tions agency Global En­vi­ron­ment Fa­cil­ity and was im­ple­mented in 2011.

Un­der the project, Ms Mokhahlane and her fel­low vil­lagers have en­gaged in poul­try and sheep rear­ing, con­ser­va­tion farm­ing, preser­va­tion of graz­ing lands among other ini­tia­tives.

The project was also in­tro­duced to com­mu­ni­ties in Ha Da­manyane, Quthing, Mafeteng and two vil­lages in Thaba-tseka, Ma­put­soe and Ha Tokho.

“The new chick­ens are easy to feed since they eat maize. They have changed my life from worse to bet­ter. I am now able to take care of my fam­ily’s ba­sic needs by sell­ing the eggs and also feed­ing them,” Ms Mokhahlane said.

“With the eggs I pro­duce, I am able to sell each for M1.00 and that makes a huge dif­fer­ence in my life.

“The only ex­pense I have in­curred is in build­ing sep­a­rate chicken coops to house for the chick­ens. I must men­tion that the two types of chicken don’t mix at all.”

Ms Mokhahlane is also ben­e­fit­ting from com­mu­nity work for which she is paid M1 000 per month. “I was again em­ployed un­der the fato-fato project up­root­ing Se­ha­la­hala (shrub) from craze fields and plant­ing Tsa­hane (a grass),” she said. Tsa­hane pre­vents soil ero­sion and al­low­ing grass to grow rapidly.

Ha-rakhomo Chief, Mo­hau Mokhahlane, said the project had not only helped his sub­jects to fight hunger but had also low­ered the crime rate as well.

“Since th­ese projects were im­ple­mented, our crime rate has de­creased as peo­ple have found ways of mak­ing a liv­ing and prob­a­bly no longer have time for such acts.

“We also have com­mu­nity polic­ing pro­grammes,” Chief Mokhahlane said.

“The projects have also made my life eas­ier as most of my vil­lagers would come run­ning ask­ing for food dur­ing hard times.”

The project’s Fi­nance and Ad­min­is­tra­tion Man­ager ‘Mamokhomo Mabote said it was launched to ad­dress the chal­lenges brought about by cli­mate change.

She said the three dis­tricts in which the project has been in­tro­duced were cho­sen af­ter be­ing iden­ti­fied as “ar­eas of chronic vul­ner­a­bil­ity” by the Na­tional Adap­ta­tion Pro­gramme of Ac­tion.

Ms Mabote said the min­istries of Forestry, Range and Soil Con­ser­va­tion as well as Agri­cul­ture and Food Se­cu­rity con­sulted dis­trict ad­min­is­tra­tors, chiefs and coun­cil­lors who iden­ti­fied the most needy com­mu­ni­ties.

“Stud­ies are un­der­way to see what type of crop­ping is suit­able per each dis­trict and com­mu­nity. Seeds like sorghum, maize and oth­ers have al­ready been tried out and the min­istry of agri­cul­ture is yet to com­plete and is­sue a re­port,” Ms Mabote said.

Asked why the projects were only com­ing to light now de­spite be­ing launched in 2011 and end­ing in De­cem­ber 2015, she said: “It is only now that the me­dia is be­ing in­formed about th­ese projects.”

Ms Mabote said there were many suc­cess sto­ries from the project, namely Forestry min­istry’s as­sess­ment of the veg­e­ta­tion and live­stock per vil­lage.

“Af­ter this, the min­istry drew a graz­ing plan for each com­mu­nity based on the num­ber of live­stock they had, and it is work­ing won­ders in Ha Rakhomo vil­lage as more graz­ing land which had be­come arid has been re­ha­bil­i­tated,” she said.

Ms Mabote said al­though the project was com­ing to an end soon, the ben­e­fi­cia­ries were sup­posed to con­tinue. She also noted that there were three au­to­mated weather sta­tions in Quthing, Mafeteng, ThabaTseka, Leribe, Berea and Maseru.

“We have also trained me­te­o­rol­o­gists and ob­servers who will di­rectly work on th­ese sta­tions and help fore­cast the weather con­di­tions in Le­sotho,” Ms Mabote said.

She added that they had formed a na­tional cli­mate change com­mit­tee made up of dif­fer­ent min­istries, non-state ac­tors and farm­ers’ as­so­ci­a­tions.

“The pur­pose of the com­mit­tee was sim­ply to cre­ate a plat­form to dis­cuss gov­ern­ment ini­tia­tives on cli­mate change and help in de­vel­op­ing Le­sotho’s first cli­mate change pol­icy,” Ms Mabote said.

Project ben­e­fi­ciary ‘Ma­fu­mane Mokhahlane.

Project Fi­nance and ad­min­is­tra­tion Man­ager ‘Mamokhomo Mabote

Ha-rakhomo Chief Mo­hau Mokhahlane

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