IFRC

“We don’t have anything to harvest.”

Published: 5 April 2016 10:00 CET

By: Thea Rabe, Norwegian Red Cross

Sibili Maoatsa, a 24-year-old Red Cross volunteer in Lesotho’s Mafeteng distict, is worried about the severe drought currently facing those living in the rural villages of his home district, and the impact it is having on them.

“My parents tell me that we haven’t had this bad a drought before, and I don’t remember a time like this in my life. Right now we don’t have crops, people are suffering, and they don’t have anything to eat,” Sebili explains.

The worst drought in decades is currently affecting over 28 million people across the southern African region. In Lesotho, erratic rainfall, and lack of rain, combined with the worst El Niño to hit the region in 35 years, has left more than 534,000 people in desperate need of food. In December 2015, the Government of Lesotho declared a drought emergency.

As a volunteer with theLesotho Red Cross Society, Sebili has helped conduct assessments of the needs in his district. He has also distributed food to people living in areas mostly affected by the drought.

“When we come with food, people are very happy. They realize that something is going to happen. They also appreciate the emotional support they get, in addition to the physical support. They get very emotional,” he says.

The Mafeteng district, where Sebili lives, is the area most affected by the drought in Lesotho. The lack of rain has made this year’s harvest a grim one. “We don’t have anything to harvest,” Sebili adds.

People here are worried about the coming winter months. The temperatures will drop dramatically, and, combined with a lack of food, the living situation will become even more fragile for those most vulnerable.

For Sebili, the situation is extremely worrying.“We realize that if we don’t get help to them, they will die.”

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched an Emergency Appeal of 664,073 Swiss francs to support the Lesotho Red Cross Society in meeting the food security needs of 9,000 people affected by the drought. Activities focus on fooddistributions, health and hygiene promotion, livelihoods and related training activities, and the distribution of seeds and tools. Launched in January, it currently runs through July 2016.

 




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