> Gerard Molupe
Maseru – The Lesotho Government has announced that it has set aside US$130 million to address the current drought that has rocked the Mountain Kingdom and other parts of Southern Africa.
The Minister of Energy and Meteorology, Selibe Mochoboroane said this money would be divided into three portions where the first portion would be allocated to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security to help animals adapt to this long dry spells.
Mochoboroane said the second portion of the money would be allocated to the Ministry of Health where it would be used to address any form of diseases which might arise as a result of this severe drought that saw some animals dying of hunger and thirst.
He said the third portion of the money would be allocated to fight any challenges that might be the result of this drought compounded by EL Nino which may include ferrying water for the people who absolutely do not have any drinking water.
The Minister pointed out that as part of addressing this problem, his government is going to buy 2,000 water tanks together with 20 truck tankers which will deliver water to the most drought-stricken part of the community members.
He said the current drought problem could not be addressed by a single Ministry but that all government Ministries have to interfere in order to save the lives of the communities.
However, Mochoboroane emphasised that the current crisis is a short-term one because the department of Meteorological Services has predicted that fairly good rains would be in March this year.
Lesotho has this week experienced heat waves which saw the country reaching temperatures as high as 43 C.
Prime Minister Dr. Pakalitha Mosisili has declared a state of drought emergency in Lesotho and further appealed to Lesotho development partners and friends to assist in efforts to redress the situation.
In doing so, the Prime Minister explained that government’s resolve to do all in its power to ensure that preparedness measures are activated immediately and to ensure that in future communities are not subjected to the same effects again.
Dr. Mosisili said effects of the prevailing drought include widespread water shortages which cause long queues and acute water rationing in many areas across the country.
He said the current situation is even worse for animals which are already dying in large numbers due to lack of drinking water as most rivers have no running water while also there is poor and degraded rangelands which have become susceptible to wild fire outbreaks.
The Prime Minister said 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 since water sources continue to dry up.
Dr. Mosisili further indicated that as part of initiatives to address the current drought, the government has established both ministerial and technical committees to boost the capacity of the Disaster Management Authority and to coordinate mitigation efforts.
He said stocks of food commodities currently in their Food Management Unit stores are being assessed in preparation for dispatch to those in desperate need.
“We make a clarion call to our partners and friends to supplement and replenish these meagre resources most urgently. Equally important will be technical and logistical support to ensure that adequate food parcels and drinking water reach the needy expeditiously,” the Prime Minister was quoted as saying.