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UNDP hails women, govt

by Lesotho Times
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…as climate change fight bears fruit

Pascalinah Kabi

THE United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) says it is important to recognise the critical role played by women in mitigating the deleterious effects of climate change as this would go a long way in addressing environmental challenges the country is facing.

UNDP Resident Representative, Christy Ahenkora said this during an awards ceremony for eight recipients of the Energy and Meteorology Ministry’s Women’s Appreciation Awards in Maseru this week.

Ms Ahenkora commended the winners, saying women bore the brunt of the environmental challenges resulting from climate change and were at the heart of mitigation efforts.

She said it was only through recognising projects like these that Lesotho could be able to address issues of food insecurity.

“25 percent of Basotho have been declared food insecure and if we don’t show leadership that can make a difference, we risk putting more people on the list of food insecure citizens,” Ms Ahenkora said, adding, “We are slowing moving away from the severe drought the country experienced in the past years and are looking forward to a good harvest due to good rains we are currently experiencing”.

“We also appreciate the good work women having been doing to mitigate issues of climate change and other environmental challenges.

“These are women who have done a lot in mitigating climate change and therefore we need to celebrate them as they have shown that they have what it takes to make a difference in Lesotho,” Ms Ahenkora said.

She also commended government for recognising efforts civil society organisations were taking to address the challenges confronting the country’s vulnerable ecological system.

Speaking at the same event, Energy Minister, Khotso Letsatsi said women played an important role in society and could achieve a lot more if “they stopped pulling each other down”.

The winners were presented with equipment that included solar dryers, shade nets, greenhouse plastics, polythene sleeves rolls, water tanks, borehole water pumping system, amtheithreatre rehabilitation, seed bags, and pressure sprayers and fumigates.

“The donated equipment will help reduce the workload in food production and therefore give you more time to perfect your crafts.

“The equipment will further uplift the lives of women, their families and communities they live in,” Mr Letsatsi said.

The eight winners were drawn from Qacha’s Nek, Mohale’s Hoek, Berea, Butha-Buthe, Semonkong and Maseru.

A representative of one of the winning projects, ‘Mamothepane Moruri said women needed to understand the importance of taking good care of the environment they live in.

Ms Moruri’s association, Kopanang ka Lerato Basali ba Patlong was one of the biggest winners as they went home with four solar dryers.

Kopanang ka Lerato Basali ba Patlong is engaged in different climate change mitigation programmes ranging from beekeeping, tree-planting and drying fruits.

The fruits are dried using solar dryers.

“The sole purpose of establishing this organisation was to protect our environment as we realised that we were beginning to walk for more kilometres to collect firewood compared to the past century,” Ms Moruri said.

She added: “A good Samaritan, Global Environment Facilities (GEF), approached us selling small energy-saving stoves which use relatively less firewood while protecting the environment at the same time”.

She said the stoves were priced at M300 each for individuals whereas members in an established organisations could buy each stove for M50.

She said realising the importance of owning these stoves and the amount of time they would save, Qacha’s Nek women seized the opportunity with both hands.

“We established the organisation, bought the stoves and GEF gave us back our M50 as a start-up capital for our organisation in 2013 and since that day we have never looked back,” Ms Moruri said, adding “we also decided to go into the business of beekeeping”.

Ms Moruri explained that beekeeping protected the environment because the beekeeper would be forced to “dress the environment” by planting flowers and other plants which bees feed from.

She said Kopanang ka Lerato Basali ba Patlong was also engaged in tree-planting projects, planting organic fruit trees throughout the entire Patlong community.

Ms Moruri said once the trees were mature, the women harvested the fruits and dried them using solar dryers which are friendly to the environment.

“At the beginning of this project we had only four solar dryers and with these four new dryers, we are certain that our production will double and as things stand now, our products are sold out in the district.

“Using solar dryers doesn’t only protect the environment but ensures standards of hygiene in food handing are maintained. With solar dryers the fruits will never be soiled even if dust was to erupt and the taste is maintained even after drying.”

Ms Moruri strongly advised women to stop pulling each other down and support such initiatives as “women are the heart of every family, society and country”.

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