THE United States has committed $50 000 (around M768 000) towards improving access to safe drinking water and providing hygiene education in Mafeteng and Mohale’s Hoek, which are hardest-hit by the prevailing El Niño-induced drought.
According to a press statement released by the US Embassy in Lesotho this week, the donation was in response to a state of emergency declared by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili on 22 December 2015 to coordinate drought mitigation efforts and request international support.
Lesotho is in the throes of its worst drought in four decades as a result of El Niño, which is a periodic climatic phenomenon characterised by inadequate rain in some parts of the world and floods in others.
Under El Niño, parts of South America experience heavy rainfall, while dry conditions prevail in Australia, south-east Asia and southern Africa. In Lesotho, El Niño’s combination of very hot and dry conditions between December 2015 and January 2016 drastically reduced agricultural yields and left thousands food insecure.
“These funds are provided in friendship by the American people and will be administered by World Vision Lesotho,” reads the US Embassy in Lesotho statement.
“Among the projects funded will be the purchase of sixteen, 5 000-litre tanks to provide improved water storage capacity at key sites, the acquisition and distribution of water treatment supplies, the rehabilitation of 10 hand pumps at boreholes, and hygiene and sanitation training for affected residents.”
The embassy also notes that the delayed and insufficient rains had affected water supplies and food production in the two districts.
“As a result of the drought, community water points and boreholes have failed to meet demand, leading many Basotho to resort to using unprotected water sources. In some parts of the country, water shortages have resulted in rationing and tight water restrictions,” it states.
“While recent rains have offered some relief in parts of the country, the worst affected areas in Mafeteng and Mohale’s Hoek continue to suffer severe water shortages. In response to the extreme need in these two districts, the United States government is providing this immediate support to ensure access to safe drinking water for Basotho living in those affected areas as well as training on best practices related to hygiene and sanitation.”