KING Letsie III has underscored the need for concerted action from government and other stakeholders in addressing the myriad of challenges confronting the country ranging from the deleterious effects of climate change to the HIV/Aids pandemic.
According to the Global Climate Change Alliance, Lesotho is highly susceptible to risks posed by climate change including frequent droughts that result in poor harvests and large livestock losses.
Heavy snowfalls, strong winds and floods also affect the country with adverse social repercussions.
The country is still to recover from the 2015/2016 El Nino-induced drought which left over 600 000 people food insecure.
King Letsie III noted such challenges in his New Year message and said it was imperative for the country to urgently come up with practical strategies to help Basotho adapt and mitigate climate change.
“Although we are expecting good rains this year, the majority are witnesses to the fact that our country is struggling to go back to its normal climatic conditions where we experienced good rains year in and year out,” His Majesty said.
“It is therefore the responsibility of every leader in different sectors to come up with strategies that will help minimise the impact of climate change on our people.”
King Letsie III said local researchers needed to come up with seedlings resilient to the changing climatic conditions so that the country can feed itself.
His Majesty said the country also needed to address issues of soil erosion which have dire consequences on the country’s agricultural sector.
He also called on the nation to start harvesting and conserving water whenever there were good rains.
A United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification’s 3rd Report published last decade noted that Lesotho was threatened by desertification because of soil erosion and land degradation.
The report stated that soil was lost through water and wind effects, leading to loss of organic matter and nutrients from the soil due as a result of poor agricultural practices.
The report further stated that the “dearth of energy sources and rampant poverty in rural areas is a principal cause of removal of tree and other vegetative cover, which exacerbates soil erosion and degradation of the ecology”.
His Majesty also said his roles as African Union Nutrition Champion and Food and Agriculture Organisation’s Special Ambassador for Food and Nutrition had led him to an understanding that food and nutrition issues must be dealt with by all stakeholders in government and civil society.
“Expert researches have shown that proper nutrition does not only benefit the immediate person but it has a direct positive impact on a country’s economy.”
His Majesty also said it was worrying that Lesotho remained the country with the second highest HIV prevalence rate of 25 percent in the world despite efforts being made to fight the pandemic.
“We are failing to decrease the prevalence rate and therefore we all need to help responsible ministries and civil society to fight this epidemic before it finishes our nation.
“We all need to take responsibility of our lives, especially young people to minimise the risks of being infected by the virus,” King Letsie III said.