The European Union (EU) has donated €780 000 (about M13, 6 million) to Lesotho for various humanitarian projects aimed at assisting vulnerable households in the country.
The money is part of a bigger donation of €24, 5 million humanitarian aid for countries in southern African and the Indian Ocean region.
Announcing the aid package at a press conference in Brussels, Belgium this week, EU Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, said “Southern Africa is highly vulnerable to various natural hazards, including cyclones, droughts and epidemics.
“In some countries of the region, this is exacerbated by a challenging political and socio-economic environment, while the overall situation is aggravated by the coronavirus pandemic.
“On top of economic and political challenges, the region faces natural hazards including recurring droughts and cyclones. Disasters represent a major source of risk for the most vulnerable populations and can undermine development gains. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many poor households are having difficulty meeting food and non-food needs because of lockdowns and other coronavirus-related restrictive measures.
“EU assistance seeks to alleviate the humanitarian consequences on the most vulnerable populations and improve disaster preparedness in the region,” Mr Lenarčič said.
The EU further said in a statement that the bloc had decided to donate to this country due to the fact that “vulnerable households in Lesotho have been particularly hard-hit after years of successive droughts and failed harvests”.
Of the Lesotho fund, €600 000 will be used to finance disaster preparedness projects while the remaining €180 000 will go towards the “education in emergencies (EIE)” project.
The EIE project is an EU initiative aimed at helping children affected by humanitarian crises to have access to safe, quality and accredited primary and secondary education. Where children have dropped out of school due to emergencies and other humanitarian crises, the project seeks to get them back into schools.
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“The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the negative trends and provoked a worldwide education crisis. The most vulnerable are facing the dire consequences, deprived of access to remote learning policies. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), more than 24 million children are projected to drop out of school due to Covid-19,” the EU said.
Other recipients of the EC funding are Mozambique which will get €7, 86 million to respond to the humanitarian consequences of the civil conflict in its northern province of Cabo Delgado. Since 2017, Islamic insurgents, who pledge allegiance to the Islamic State group (ISIS), have waged a brutal war which has either killed or displaced thousands of people.
Furthermore, the EU will provide assistance to address food insecurity in Zimbabwe and to support the Covid-19 preparedness and response.
In Madagascar, the EU will provide assistance to address the severe food and nutrition crisis.
Southern African countries have over the past few years been hit hard by the El-Niño weather phenomenon which alternately induces flooding and droughts.
A January 2021 World Food Programme report notes that all the 10 districts of Lesotho are currently in the crisis category due to the El-Niño induced drought which resulted in poor harvests in the 2019/20 agricultural season. The food insecurity situation is expected to improve with the current 2020/21 harvest season due to the good rains received in most parts of the country.