Re­lief for drought vic­tims

Lesotho Times - - News - Mo­halenyane Phakela

CHINA has do­nated 1400 tonnes of rice to as­sist vic­tims of the El Nino-in­duced drought which rav­aged Le­sotho and other parts of South­ern Africa in the last two years.

Part of the con­sign­ment will be given to the vic­tims of the re­cent floods which left five peo­ple dead in Mount Moorosi in the Quthing district. The floods also de­stroyed homes and crops- some of which were close to ma­tu­rity.

The Chi­nese do­na­tion is also timely as it comes against the back­ground of a re­cent Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­gan­i­sa­tion (FAO) re­port which states that about 225 000 Ba­sotho or 11 per­cent of Le­sotho’s 2, 1 mil­lion peo­ple ur­gently need food as­sis­tance at least un­til the end of the 2017/2018 har­vest sea­son.

How­ever, it is un­likely that the har­vest, due at the end of next month, will bring much re­lief to the coun­try as FAO said the cur­rent agri­cul­tural sea­son had been blighted by ex­ces­sive dry spells and floods in some parts of the coun­try, re­sult­ing in re­duced yields of ce­re­als in­clud­ing the sta­ple maize crop.

FAO listed Le­sotho among 29 African coun­tries that need ex­ter­nal food as­sis­tance as a re­sult of ad­verse “weather shocks that have in­ten­si­fied frag­ile con­di­tions”.

China’s am­bas­sador to Le­sotho, Sun Xianghua, re­cently told the Le­sotho Times that the food con­sign­ment which ar­rived in the coun­try last week will soon be handed over to the gov­ern­ment. Dr Xianghua said the lat­est do­na­tion was the se­cond such that his gov­ern­ment had sent to as­sist the coun­try to the re­spond to the El Nino drought.

“In 2016 Le­sotho suf­fered a drought whose im­pact is still felt today and that is why we con­tinue to pro­vide aid,” Dr Xianghua said.

“Last Novem­ber we do­nated more than 1000 tonnes of food and we will soon hand over an­other con­sign­ment of 1400 tonnes which re­cently ar­rived in the coun­try. The do­na­tion will be handed over to the Min­is­ter of For­eign Af­fairs (Le­sego Mak­gothi).

“The Mount Moorosi hail­storm also af­fected the ex­pected har­vest so the em­bassy will work to­gether with the Dis­as­ter Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity to en­sure that part of the con­sign­ment will be handed over to Mount Moorosi vic­tims.”

The do­na­tion comes at a time when the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment and the Chi­nese com­mu­nity in Le­sotho made up of busi­ness peo­ple and med­i­cal per­son­nel joined Her Majesty, Queen ‘Mase­n­ate Mo­hato Seeiso, in do­nat­ing to vic­tims of the Quthing floods.

The Chi­nese com­mu­nity do­nated M170 000-the big­gest of all do­na­tions out­side of the M3 mil­lion which was set aside by the gov­ern­ment to­wards the dis­as­ter re­lief ef­forts in the wake of the 14 March 2018 hail­storm.

The Queen’s Na­tional Trust Fund pledged M50 000 and the Le­sotho Post bank also pledged M50 000 and also promised to re­build some of the af­fected schools. Vo­da­com Le­sotho pledged to re­build Tipi Pri­mary School as well as a house for a fam­ily of five chil­dren who cur­rently re­side in a tent af­ter their house was de­stroyed by the storm.

Dr Xianghua also men­tioned that his gov­ern­ment will con­tinue to help Le­sotho un­til it has a suf­fi­ciently well-de­vel­oped econ­omy in or­der to achieve self-sus­te­nance even when nat­u­ral dis­as­ters strike.

“We have to ef­fec­tively plan for the fu­ture so that we can be able to fight nat­u­ral dis­as­ters and that is why the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment is stead­fast in as­sist­ing Le­sotho to de­velop its econ­omy through in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment,” Dr Xianghua said.

Chi­nese am­bas­sador to Le­sotho sun Xianghua.

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