Relief for drought victims
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.