Red Cross secures drought relief

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Limpho Sello

THE Lesotho Red Cross Society (LRCS) has secured M9 million for its emergency plan of action to address the food insecurity challenges facing thousands of Basotho.

Addressing a press conference yesterday, LRCS Programme Director Matšepo Moletsane said the humanitarian organisation had made an appeal for financial assistance to the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) in light of the prevailing El Niño-induced drought.

DREF was set up by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in 1985 to ensure that immediate financial support is available for Red Cross Red Crescent emergency response to disasters.

Ms Moletsane said while they would have wanted to assist food insecure people in all the country’s 10 districts, they were unable to do so because of resource constraints.

“Based on the national and rapid assessments that were carried out, the three districts found to be hardest hit by the drought were Qacha’s Nek, Thaba-Tseka and Mafeteng,” she said.

“The areas and families chosen within the districts were found to be the most vulnerable within their respective villages.”

LRCS Disaster Management Coordinator, Maine Mapula, said the assistance offered to the beneficiaries would be in the form of food and cash.

“Our appeal has been approved to assist 9 000 food insecure people in 1 800 households receive assistance in two ways namely, two months food distribution per household over a period of two months from February and March 2016,” Mr Mapula said.

“There will also be a monthly cash transfer of M550 per household per month for a period of four months. The transfer will be sufficient to meet the immediate food needs of a household of five.

“The cash transfer value has been calculated based on the current prices of a standard food basket that is 50kg bag of maize, 7.5kg of beans and 4.5 Litres of cooking oil.”

He said the operation would use mobile money transfers in partnership with telecommunications providers.

“Free sim cards will be provided and the selected supplier will train staff and volunteers in the registration and transfer systems. The cash transfers will be quick and cost effective,” said Mr Mapula.

He added that the project was supported by IFRC, British Red Cross Society, The Netherlands Red Cross Society, Swedish Red Cross Society and Norwegian Red Cross Society.

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