Dev­as­tat­ing drought forces premier to seek as­sis­tance from de­vel­op­ment part­ners

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Pas­cali­nah Kabi

PRIME Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili has de­clared a state of emer­gency due to the pre­vail­ing drought and asked de­vel­op­ment part­ners to help com­bat the sit­u­a­tion.

In a tele­vised ad­dress to the na­tion on Tues­day night, dr Mo­sisili said Le­sotho was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing one of its worst droughts in re­cent his­tory due to 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. el Niño used to oc­cur in vary­ing de­grees of sever­ity af­ter ev­ery five years, but since the 1990s, has be­come more fre­quent due to global warm­ing.

Le­sotho is ex­pected to ex­pe­ri­ence the worst ef­fects of the drought be­tween 20 De­cem­ber 2015 and 20 Jan­uary 2016.

“Le­sotho is no stranger to drought which pe­ri­od­i­cally oc­curs, caus­ing havoc to wa­ter sources, agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion, food se­cu­rity and the en­vi­ron­ment, to name but a few,” dr Mo­sisili told the na­tion.

“In the re­cent past, drought in­ci­dences oc­curred dur­ing the years 1998-1999, 2003-2004 and 20072008 and the most re­cent one in 2012-2013.

“How­ever, all in­di­ca­tions at­test to the un­equalled sever­ity of the cur­rent drought. We will all re­call that the coun­try ex­pe­ri­enced pre­dom­i­nately dry con­di­tions in Fe­bru­ary 2015.”

dr Mo­sisili fur­ther said the in­ad­e­quate rain re­sulted in a 21 per­cent de­cline in food-pro­duc­tion since 2013-2014. The poor har­vest, he added, was par­tic­u­larly hard on com­mu­ni­ties which de­pend on agri­cul­ture as a source of liveli­hood.

He fur­ther noted the af­fected com­mu­ni­ties have re­quired hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance from au­gust 2015 un­til the next har­vest which nor­mally be­gins in May 2016.

“al­though the whole coun­try is af­fected, the sit­u­a­tion is worse in the low­lands and foothills where most of our arable land is lo­cated,” dr Mo­sisili said.

“Other ef­fects of the pre­vail­ing drought in­clude wide­spread wa­ter- short­ages, which cause long queues and acute wa­ter-ra­tioning in many ar­eas.”

The premier fur­ther said the sit­u­a­tion was be­com­ing even worse for an­i­mals which he noted are al­ready dy­ing in large num­bers due to lack of drink­ing wa­ter as most rivers have dried up. Be­cause of the dry con­di­tions, dr Mo­sisili said ran­ge­lands had be­come sus­cep­ti­ble to wild­fire out­breaks.

“It is also worth not­ing that women and chil­dren, peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties and the el­derly, are the worst af­fected as they bear the brunt of trav­el­ling long dis­tances to col­lect wa­ter for do­mes­tic use as sources con­tinue to dry up.

“We also bear wit­ness to the fact that the ma­jor­ity of farm­ers have failed to cul­ti­vate any crops this sum­mer due to in­ad­e­quate mois­ture.

“This pre­vail­ing sit­u­a­tion is am­ple proof that we should once again ex­pect a very poor har­vest for the 2016-17 crop­ping sea­son.”

dr Mo­sisili said it was against this back­ground that he was forced to de­clare the cur­rent se­vere drought a state of emer­gency.

“against this back­ground, I am obliged to de­clare a state of drought emer­gency in Le­sotho and to call upon our de­vel­op­ment part­ners and all the friends of Le­sotho to as­sist in ef­forts to regress the sit­u­a­tion,” dr Mo­sisili said.

“In do­ing so, I wish to ex­press govern­ment’s re­solve to do all in its power to en­sure that pre­pared­ness

soil mea­sures are ac­ti­vated im­me­di­ately and to en­sure that in fu­ture, our com­mu­ni­ties are not sub­jected to the va­garies of the same ef­fects again. “

The premier also said the govern­ment had al­ready es­tab­lished both min­is­te­rial and tech­ni­cal com­mit­tees to boost the ca­pac­ity of the disas­ter Man­age­ment au­thor­ity (dma) and co­or­di­nate mit­i­ga­tion ef­forts.

dr Mo­sisili fur­ther said wa­ter would be fer­ried by tankers to com­mu­ni­ties in dire­straits as part of govern­ment’s re­solve to ad­dress this prob­lem.

He fur­ther said those in des­per­ate need of food would be helped; adding: “We make a clar­ion call to our part­ners and friends to sup­ple­ment and re­plen­ish th­ese needed re­sources most ur­gently.

“equally im­por­tant will be tech­ni­cal and lo­gis­ti­cal sup­port to en­sure that ad­e­quate food parcels and drink­ing wa­ter reach the needy ex­pe­di­tiously.”

For the medium to long term, dr Mo­sisili said govern­ment was de­vis­ing strate­gies to en­sure wa­ter and food se­cu­rity for both hu­man and an­i­mal con­sump­tion.

Th­ese strate­gies, he said, in­cluded fast-track­ing the low­lands wa­ter pro­ject which would sup­ply wa­ter to most low­land ar­eas with the pre­cious liq­uid for both con­sump­tion and ir­ri­ga­tion pur­poses.

The premier also re­vealed that plans were un­der­way to con­struct small dams and clean rivers and don­gas through­out the coun­try for the col­lec­tion and stor­age of wa­ter. He also said govern­ment was de­vis­ing ways to ex­ploit un­der­ground wa­ter to strengthen do­mes­tic wa­ter­har­vest­ing strate­gies and in­ten­sify con­ser­va­tion agri­cul­ture.

“In con­clu­sion, al­low me to re­it­er­ate govern­ment’s re­solve to re­duce the ad­verse ef­fects of the pre­vail­ing drought. Govern­ment views this dec­la­ra­tion as a tem­po­rary mea­sure to mit­i­gate the drought im­pact on the pop­u­lace.

“as in­di­cated ear­lier, govern­ment re­quires more as­sis­tance from our de­vel­op­ment part­ners and friends of Le­sotho to sup­ple­ment our own na­tional ef­forts and to trans­late into ac­tion, plans for ad­dress­ing the pre­vail­ing drought sit­u­a­tion in the coun­try ro­bustly.”

We make a clar­ion call to our part­ners and friends to sup­ple­ment and re­plen­ish th­ese needed re­sources most ur­gently. Equally im­por­tant will be tech­ni­cal and lo­gis­ti­cal sup­port to en­sure that ad­e­quate food parcels and drink­ing wa­ter reach the needy ex­pe­di­tiously

Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili

PRIME Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili.

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