Improving adaptive capacity of vulnerable and food-insecure populations in Lesotho (IACOV)
08 October 2020
Remarks by the UN Resident Coordinator at the Launch of Adaptation Fund Project
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 LADYSHIP THE ACTING CHIEF JUSTICE
HONOURABLE DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER
HONORABLE MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT
HONOURABLE MINISTERS AND DEPUTY MINISTERS OF HIS MAJESTY’S GOVERNMENT, ESPECIALLY THE HON. MINISTER OF ENERGY AND METEOROLOGY;
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
On behalf of the United Nations in Lesotho, it is a great honor for me to welcome you all to the launch of a new project called “Improving adaptive capacity of vulnerable and food-insecure populations in Lesotho (IACOV)”. This very good initiative aims to combat Climate Change, one of the most unrelenting challenges facing humanity today. Climate change has become a reality much faster than all scenarios predicted. Climate change is not just an environmental issue, as most of us may still believe. It is an all-encompassing threat, to health, to agriculture, to peace and security, to the very earth millions of people live and rely on, to the global economy.
Lesotho is quite vulnerable to climate change. In recent years, the country has experienced recurrent droughts, extreme heatwaves and other unusual climatic events. Land and soil degradation continue to reduce the capacity to retain water and has caused a loss of biological diversity and affected fragile ecosystems. It is estimated that Lesotho has lost over a 100 thousand hectares of arable land, representing a massive 25 percent decline in the total fertile and productive land available. The decline in agricultural productivity is of great concern as the agricultural sector is the main source of income for majority of the rural population in Lesotho and yet contributes only 8.6 percent of GDP. The deterioration of grazing lands and erratic rainfall patterns has led to three consecutive years of poor harvests and a decrease in livestock production, with adverse impacts on food security.
The dire consequences are starkly illustrated in the August 2020 IPC Acute Food Insecurity Analysis that estimates that from October 2020 to March 2021, around 40% of the population (582,000 people) are projected to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse. All 10 districts will likely experience high acute food insecurity with pockets of highly vulnerable populations in Emergency (IPC Phase 4).
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
In the face of this humanitarian crisis, we are here today to launch this project supported by the Adaptation Fund (AF). Through this project, the Government of Lesotho and the United Nations Lesotho have partnered to combat the effects of climate change. The goal of the project is to enhance the adaptive capacity and build the resilience of vulnerable and food insecure households and communities to the impacts of climate change on food security in the country. The IACOV project will be implemented in the three districts: Mafeteng, Mohale’s Hoek and Quthing which have high exposure and risk to natural shocks and face a moderate to high recurrence of food insecurity.
In order to achieve the project goal, activities will be grouped in three main components:
Institutional capacity and systems building to support national and community adaptation and management of climate change impacts.
Awareness raising of vulnerable communities on climate change impacts and adaptation.
Strengthening resilience at community level through community-based adaptation measures and improved food systems.
I wish to underline the fact that climate change impacts are not gender neutral- women, youth, people living with HIV and other vulnerable groups tend to be less equipped to adequately adapt. Gender-based inequalities create obstacles to accessing assets and gendered social roles can worsen the plight of vulnerable people’s adaptive capacities to respond to the effects of climate change. The legal framework in Lesotho, compounded by sociocultural barriers, inhibit women from effectively responding to climatic risk thus further increasing their vulnerability to climatic changes. It is therefore imperative, as this project sets out to do, to establish structures to support and empower communities at the grassroot level to be able to effectively protect their livelihoods from the damaging impacts of climate change.
I would like to conclude by recognizing the collaborative nature of IACOV, by working together as partners I am confident that together we are building a robust foundation upon which we will successfully fight the impacts of climate change in Lesotho. I truly hope that the IACOV Project will achieve results by providing Basotho with tools to respond to Climate Change.
I leave you with the powerful words of Mr. Kofi Annan who said: “The question is not whether climate change is happening but whether, in the face of this emergency, we ourselves can change fast enough.” It is indeed the duty of every single one of us to rise to this epic challenge and ensure that we save our planet for future generations. Let us work hard to reach the furthest behind and remain committed to the pledge to ensure that “no one will be left behind”. Khotso, Pula, Nala!