THE government has pledged to build dwellings for the 80 families whose houses were damaged by a storm in Lihlokong village in Mafeteng district.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Kimetso Mathaba, made the promise during a meeting he held with the villagers on Monday accompanied by Metropolitan Lesotho officials. The meeting was held at the ruins of the Lihlokong Early Child Care Development.
The Lihlokong community was left stranded and without roofs over their heads when a storm swept through the village during in February, damaging property and injuring both people and animals. The storm also destroyed power lines and water pipes, leaving the villagers without electricity, water and functional lavatories.
Some of the villagers were abiding in makeshift tents donated by the Disaster Management Authority (DMA) with blankets and mattresses donated by World Vision.
Mr Mathaba said government would soon start re-building the villagers’ destroyed homes, with the M4 million already earmarked for the project awaiting budgetary approval.
“The government has estimated the cost of rebuilding the structures at M4 million and we have told the Ministry of Public Works and Transport to change the way the houses were roofed to ensure this does not happen again,” he said.
“We are thankful to Metropolitan and World Vision for their enormous support which came timeously since these people are as good as sleeping outside.”
Metropolitan Lesotho also donated 160 blankets at a cost of M40 000 and further pledged to replace a borehole that was damaged during the storm. Repairing the borehole would cost M38 000 with the donation from the financial services provider adding up to M78 000.
Metropolitan Managing Director, Nkau Matete, said they initially wanted to erect some buildings for the villagers but decided to assist with the blankets and replacing the borehole after learning that government had a similar plan.
“As a corporate citizen, Metropolitan Lesotho has a responsibility to contribute to the community,” Mr Matete said.
“It is because of this sense of social responsibility that when the company learnt of the plight of the people of Lihlokong, we thought it appropriate to liaise with all stakeholders concerned to see how best we can assist.
“Initially, we wanted to build one or two houses, but when we learnt that the government of Lesotho, through DMA, was already in the process of building houses, we decided to contribute by buying blankets for the people affected. All in all, the families affected were 80. We bought two blankets for each family; one sleeping blanket and one day blanket which cost M40 000.”
Mr Matete added that Metropolitan Lesotho had been “touched” by the plight of the people of Lihlokong and had been moved to action, as they had done in previous instances.
“Metropolitan has in the past helped many communities and we will continue to play our role where we can as we believe in giving back to the communities,” he said.
“It is the same communities that provide us with premiums for our insurance business. I was particularly touched by the plight of the people of Lihlokong because I come from this area and was raised by this community.”
Also speaking at the event, Lihlokong Chief, Maphoka Matete, appealed to government to expedite arrangements for the groundbreaking ceremony to begin the construction.
He said they had already received some building materials from well-wishers who had also volunteered to begin building once the government had given the go-ahead.
“We have been receiving massive support from such organisations as World Vision, World Food Programme (WFP) and individuals like one Ntate Leuta from Mafeteng who has donated bags of cement and bricks and even promised to come himself to build the houses,” Chief Matete said.
WFP and World Vision are currently running a programme in which villagers are tasked to uproot parasitic flora that endangers the growth of grass used as pasture for the animals as well as installing a water tank.
After every 20 days, high performers are rewarded with food parcels that include 50 kilogrammes maize meal, 10 kgs peas and nine litres of cooking oil.