El Niño testing our faith
Temperatures in maseru, other towns and throughout Lesotho reaching as high as above 40oc without any significant drops at nighttime. No end in sight to the stifling heat, drought, starvation and not the slightest hint of droplets of rain. All our major rivers are dry to the core.
Our mother earth is as dry as a bone that has been lying in the unrelenting sweltering heat of the sun for decades. shortage of water running dangerously low for animals, plants and humans. The frequent thunderstorm patterns becoming the order of the day. prices of basic foodstuffs and grain are rocketing daily at an alarming rate.
Nobody dares wait, let alone walk in the baking daytime heat without an umbrella, sunscreen, hat or some item to provide shade for oneself. Vast tracts of land throughout the country are lying fallow and there is no food production at all. Heatstroke is a common occurrence among the people.
Even some people are beginning to suggest that God is unleashing His wrath on His people for their cruel, devious, evil, murderous and un-christian ways that have made the nation erected the proverbial unbreachable wall between Him and His people. However I decided not to express an opinion on this. This is El Niño for you that brings with it a combination of weather patterns that are unusual and pose inevitable hardships for the people.
In Psalm 24:1-2, it is said that: “The Earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it, for he founded it on the seas and established it in the waters.” Further, in Proverbs 16:3, it is said: “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.”
In addition, Verse 1 of Hymn 40 says: “The earth is the Lord’s: He founded it and all those who inhabit it: He founded it long time ago upon the oceans and on rivers.”
On the basis of the above it is therefore inevitable for some people to ascribe these unbearable weather patterns to our evil and devious ways but also to the fact that as some Christians believe God is testing our belief in Him. This is when God tests the endurance of our faith in Him. He is therefore bringing us, humans, closer to him to seek his solace and intercession.
The book of Zechariah, under the subtitle: “A call to return to the Lord,” 1:1-6 wherein it is written: “In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zecharia son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo: The Lord was very angry with your ancestors. Therefore tell the people: this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Return to me,” declares the Lord Almighty. Do not be like your ancestors, to whom the earlier prophets proclaimed: this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Turn from your evil ways and evil practices. “But they would not listen; pay attention to me, declares the Lord. Where are your ancestors now? And the prophets, do they live forever? But did not heed my words and my decrees, which I commanded my servants the prophets, overtake your ancestors? Then they repented and said, “The Lord Almighty has done us what our ways and practices deserve, just as he determined to do.”
The situation has become so desperate that even social media, though this is pure hogwash that nobody will believe, has jumped onto the bandwagon. The anecdote goes like this: Avid Christians believe that God has assigned a number of different tasks to particular angels.
One is for ushering the dearly-departed to the kingdom of God. The other is assigned to hoodwink those of us who departed this, our mortal world, on the back of evil, wicked and devious record to hell and the eternal fire. Yet another one is tasked to convey funds amassed from the earth to God, Himself, so that He may endow us with good seasonal rains.
Legend has it that with the third angel among the many that perform different tasks on behalf of God. Some unscrupulous politicians stole all that money with the results that God is so livid with Basotho that He is unleashing his Omnipotent powers and wrath to deny us rain for some months as part of His collective retribution on all of us.
Lest I be perceived to be blasphemous, let met hasten to reiterate that this is complete hogwash. What this anecdote underscores is merely to demonstrate the desperate levels that the dire situation has reached.
However, what we all universally agree on is that the El Niño phenomenon is tightening its iron-grip on the subcontinent including Lesotho and the northern hemisphere with disastrous consequences.
El Niño is an irregularly occurring and complex series of climatic changes affecting some regions of the world beyond every few years usually every five years, characterized by the appearance of unusually scorching weather patterns.
El Niño is caused by global warming in that it involves gradual change in the overall temperature of the earth’s atmosphere generally attributable to greenhouse effect. This is caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide. scientists and climatologists universally agree that El Niño is ominously caused when strong high pressure system dominates the upper levels of the atmosphere causing stagnant air mass that prevent rainfall.
It will rear its ugly head again with disastrous consequences, in the next few possible five years. This despite our preparedness or otherwise we need only prepare and face its destructive wrath that, like the current one, is expected to last until at least April 2016.
Commentators, scientists and climatologist are virtually agreed that this is the worst drought to have hit Lesotho, in particular, in a hundred years or in living memory since records began.
The attendant drought brought by El Niño is so serious as earlier alluded to, virtually all major rivers have run dry. Our only salvation are the mohale and Katse dams whose sluice gates have to be opened periodically to enable downstream areas and towns along the major rivers to access water including South Africa’s economic heartland of Pretoria-witwatersrand-vereeniging (PWV).
As all the major schools and tertiary institutions re-open for their new term, I am apprehensive whether the authorities have done enough to ensure sustainable water supply and therefore whether these institutions will remain open for their full term. The jury is still out.
The situation is so desperate that it calls not only on government but also all stakeholders including big businesses and NGOS to come on-board to keep away or at least, lessen the disastrous consequences of the resultant drought. Our country’s perennial position as a net importer of basic foodstuffs and grain has become even more pronounced as a result of the insidious El Niño phenomenon. We are poised to import more grain and other foodstuffs in the near future.
Thankfully, government after much procrastination has declared a state of emergency in recognition of the desperate and precarious situation that the country finds itself in. The state of emergency will unshackle and unleash all the resources that will be pivotal in alleviating the disastrous consequences of the drought. It also calls on development partners and aid agencies to come on board to assist in alleviating the problem as Lesotho on its own cannot adequately with its limited funds and resources, deal with drought. rightly, however, government has set aside M150 million for emergency relief but this is not enough as government has asked for external aid.
The declaration of the state of emergency will hopefully obviate the need for stringent procurement regulations and procedures so that essential supplies can reach vulnerable members of the populace swiftly thereby doing away with the customary bureaucratic red tape.
Government needs to commit more funds and resources to alleviate the drought and starvation. Already there are reports that many communities and villages have none of the most basic needs, food and water. even where they are available they are of unhygienic quality thereby posing a serious health hazards. To borrow the over-used cliché, the consequences of the El Niño phenomenon are too ghastly to contemplate.
I may hasten to add, thereby outstripping our country’s meagre financial and other resources. Lesotho as the prime minister rightly points-out, cannot withstand the disaster without foreign assistance. even if government had long ago taken pre-emptive measures to alleviate the problem this nevertheless owing to its magnitude calls for a global intervention.
Needless to say, EL Nino is also a phenomenon that will always occur in those infamous cycles a couple of years down the line. It is a disastrous phenomenon that due to circumstances beyond our mortal control, will live with us and even generations to come for the foreseeable future. However, as always, nature has a strange way, unknown to us ordinary mortals, of remedying whatever disaster. I do not doubt we will survive, despite the heavy odds staked against us.
In conclusion and in addition to 2nd Chronicles 7:14-16, I urge readers to draw inspiration from 2nd Chronicles 7:14-16: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Now my eyes will be opened and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. I have chosen and concentrated this temple so that my name may be there forever. my eyes and my heart will always be there.”
LIKE most of Lesotho, Ha Motloheloa village has not been spared of water shortage due to El Niño.