Nothing to eat but peaches

Publicado: 29 marzo 2016 10:00 CET

By Thea Rabe, Norwegian Red Cross

Sixteen-year-old Lipuo Mpitsa is worried about her future. A severe drought has left her family without any harvest this season. Winter is fast approaching in the Lesotho highlands and Mpitsa’s family has only peaches left to eat.

Lipuo lives high up in the mountains of Lesotho with her mother and three siblings. It is in the district of Thaba-Tseka, an area greatly affected by climate change over the past few years. Last September, the district experienced early frost, which destroyed crops. In the following months when rain was expected, the strongest El Niño experienced in the last 35 years hit the southern African region. The rain never came.

Lipuo looks worried when thinking about the future. “Our main food source has always been our home garden, but now due to the drought, we don’t have anything to eat,” she says.

The Government of Lesotho declared a drought emergency in December 2015, with more than 534,000 people food insecure across the country. The Lesotho Red Cross Society is organizing aid to 9,000 people, but lack funds to be able to help many more, such as Lipuo, who need it.

In the district of Thaba-Tseka, people are poor and are living off their home gardens. In Lipuo’s case, living without a father, has made it all the more difficult. The family is more vulnerable when it comes to income and harvest capacity with only one parent to provide.

Right now, says Lipuo, there is only one source of food for her family. “What is good now is that we have peaches growing in the trees. But I don’t feel so well eating only the peaches. It gives us diarrhoea, and we cannot afford to go to the hospital. It is no good,” she says.

The Lesotho Red Cross Society has been coming to Lipuo’s village for almost four years. In the past two months, volunteers have focused on sharing knowledge of how to preserve fruit so it will last longer  into the winter months. They are also doing assessments throughout the district to see how they can best help in the coming months.

As for Lipuo, she wishes for a better future, even though she knows hers is insecure. “I do not know what the future will bring, and I don’t know when it will rain. But I do know that we will be food insecure,” she says.

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 food distributions, health and hygiene promotion, livelihoods and related training activities, andthe distribution of seeds and tools. Launched in January, it currently runs through July 2016.