Maseru – The European Union has extended nearly US$1 million to Lesotho’s humanitarian efforts to improve the livelihoods of the vulnerable households.
The €780,000 (approximately US$935,000) assistance is part of a €24,5 million (US$29.3 million) aid package for countries in Southern African and the Indian Ocean region.
Briefing the media in Brussels, Belgium this week, EU Commissioner (Crisis Management) Mr Janez Lenarčič said a cocktail of challenges, including natural disasters and the ongoing global health emergency, had exacerbated existing vulnerabilities.
“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.
In a separate statement, the EU said “vulnerable households in Lesotho have been particularly hard-hit after years of successive droughts and failed harvests”.
The money will go towards disaster preparedness and the Education in Emergencies (EIE) project.
EIE 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.
“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.
A January 2021 World Food Programme report classifies all 10 districts of Lesotho are in the UN agency’s “crisis” category due to the El-Niño-induced drought which resulted in poor harvests in the 2019/20 agricultural season. The food security situation is expected to improve on the back of a solid 2020/21 harvest.
Elsewhere in the Southern Africa region, Mozambique is getting assistance to respond to the humanitarian consequences of the civil conflict in the northern province of Cabo Delgado.
The EU is providing assistance to address food insecurity in Zimbabwe and to support COVID-19 responses.
In Madagascar, the EU will provide assistance to address food and nutrition insecurity.