Remarks by the UN Resident Coordinator at the joint Press conference between WFP and the EU
Bo Mme le Bo Ntate, Khotsong.Please allow me to pay my respects to:
HIS MAJESTY KING LETSIE III
THE RIGHT HONOURABLE THE PRIME MINISTER
HONOURABLE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE
HONOURABLE SPEAKER OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
HIS LORDSHIP PRESIDENT OF THE COURT OF APPEAL
HER LADYSHIPSHIP THE ACTING CHIEF JUSTICE
HONOURABLE DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER
HONORABLE MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT
HONOURABLE MINISTERS AND DEPUTY MINISTERS OF HIS MAJESTY’S GOVERNMENT
THEIR LORDSHIPS JUDGES OF THE COURT OF APPEAL AND THE HIGH COURT
DEVELOPMENT PARTNERS, IN PARTICULAR THE HEAD OF DELEGATION OF THE EUROPEAN UNION, Mr. Christian MANAHL
HEADS OF UN AGENCIES AND DEAR COLLEAGUES
THE PRINCIPAL SECRETARY IN THE OFFICE OF THE PM
SENIOR GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS
MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA
BO MME LE BO NTATE ALL PROTOCOL OBSERVED
A warm welcome to the UN House! Thank you all for taking the time to attend this press conference
As we know, Lesotho is experiencing yet another severe drought. In facts, if you look around, you will see that the valleys, the hills and the mountains of Lesotho are currently green and beautiful. But you will also see green grass instead of green fields. You will see more wild grass than maize or beans. So, the rains came but they came too late for the planting season. This means that the 2019 lean season got leaner and longer. And the 2020 harvest season does not look promising. Since the 2015/2016 El Nino crisis, consecutive droughts have badly damaged the capacity of households to cope. So, the country is currently green, but the impact of the past drought poses clear and present challenges. Situations like these are often referred to as “green droughts”
The Lesotho Vulnerability Assessment Committee (LVAC) conducted several assessments including the Integrated Phase classification (IPC) and the results show that poor harvest in 2019 is responsible for the significant increase in food insecurity for much of the rural population and especially small-scale farmers and agricultural laborers.
Also, in the last quarter of 2019 due to drought, many rivers dried up resulting in extreme water shortages and many sectors were therefore negatively impacted; such as food/agriculture, WASH, health/nutrition and protection sector. The situation is however improving for water and livestock.
The government of Lesotho declared a state of drought emergency in October 2019 as the situation deteriorated and data indicated that about 508,125 people (433,410 rural, 74,715 urban) would be severely food insecure between October 2019 and March 2020.
To address the immediate needs the Humanitarian Country Team launched a flash appeal in December 2019. We already received $ 8,600,000 from the United Nations ($ 5,5 million last year and 3 million this year). The European Union is now contributing € 1,500,000 (equivalent to about US$ 1,626,000). This contribution will help assist a further 22 000 people through an on-going drought response programme by WFP. Together, these funds will support the response in five sectors: agriculture, Food assistance, WASH, Health and Nutrition as well as protection. I use this opportunity to thank UN agencies and humanitarian partners who are implementing projects in those sectors.
On behalf of the United Nations, I wish to express our gratitude to the European Union. We value our long-standing partnership which goes beyond humanitarian to include development efforts.
We call on other partners to bring resources and help address the immediate humanitarian needs of the Basotho people.