On Thursday the 30th March 2023, Lesotho Red Cross Society (LRCS) held an Early Action Protocol (EAP) at ‘Manthabiseng Convention centre. Present at the workshop were LRCS Divisional Secretaries, LRCS staff, Ministry of Social Development, Ministry of Forestry, Range and Soil Conservation, Ministry of Gender, Youth Sports and Culture, District Administrators, Disaster Management Authority, District Counsels and the Netherlands 510 team among others.

When officially opening the workshop, the president of the LRCS Mr. Hareteke Nkhets’e welcomed everyone who attended, he said the Society’s strategic intent is to alleviate human suffering. “One of our key result areas is to prepare for disasters “disaster preparedness”. This project is very key to us as the LRCS in terms of preparedness to the disasters” The President said.

He further expressed his gratitude to the government and other stakeholders for taking part in the preparation of the Early Action Protocol He emphasised on the point that the Society is thankful see that the government is working along side with the Society to make sure that the role of the Red Cross is seen and known.

When giving the key note of the workshop, the Secretary General of the LRCS said the objective of the Early Action Protocol is to close the gap between disaster preparedness and response. He stated that drought has become on of the normal event in Lesotho so this programme came at an opportune moment whereby the world is concerned about climate change.

“The research that has been done by the LRCS in collaboration with the National University of Lesotho and other stakeholders looked specifically at draught and it has been endorsed that draught is one of the big problems that face Lesotho hence the EAP that will be discussed today.” The Secretary General said.

He further stated that the Society has qualified to receive about M9.3 Million for the next five years which will be utilised to reduce the impact of draught in Lesotho. “This means it guaranteed for the next five years the country has access of funds that will at least assist about 10 500 people so that they don’t experience the full impact of draught.” Mr. Masilo stated

The EAP Project Manager Miss Sibongile Hlubi said Early Action Protocol is an approach that enables access to humanitarian funds. “We can forecast draught using different indicators, using metrological data and looking at the food security situation, with the forecast that we have we will be able to say we can predict the situation before it happens.” She said

She further stated that there is the risk analysis should be looked in to and there are two indicators to look into which are:

  • The exposure; Which regions are exposed to draught
  • Vulnerability: What makes the community in that area to be vulnerable.

She said the goal of EAP is to anticipate disasters, prevent their impact and reduce humanitarian suffering and losses. According to the project manager, the first phase of the project started in 2019 and ended on the 31st December 2022. In this phase, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini tried to develop this approach and see if it works in different countries. The project focuses on draught, cold waves or heavy snow fall in Lesotho.

Miss Hlubi indicated that the Early Action Protocol project started on the 1st January 2023 and will end 31st December 2028, it is funded to a tune of M9.3 Million which is allocated for readiness, prepositioning and early action costs and it is expected to cover the average minimum of ten thousand people.

There are triggers that fully define the processes that were undertook and who will be the custodian.

She further stated that when ever the Lesotho Metrological Services gives a seasonal outlook that is normal to below normal rain fall, the early action will be activated, this includes dissemination of early warning messages and unconditional cash transfers. The dissemination messages will be done from October to end of February because the seasonal outlook would have been received.

“The Forecast Based Financing is here, Anticipatory Action is here, Early action Protocol is here, I give this to the government entities to and all stakeholders to say this is the opportunity that we can use to ensure that we protect the vulnerable community.” She concluded

The Early Action Protocol document was then handed over to Disaster Management Authority (DMA) at this event,

When receiving the document on behalf of DMA’s CEO, Mr. Thapelo Rankoe thanked the LRCS for handing over the document to them and said the DMA is mandated to conducting all Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) activities in the country.

“Today my colleagues and I acknowledge the handover of the EAP from the LRCS. This clearly indicates the step forward to preparing and responding to those affected by draught. Mr. Rankoe said.

He further stated that the LRCS and DMA have long been good partners when it comes to activities and initiatives aiming at reducing disasters in Lesotho. “Together we shall work hard and hand in hand to make sure that EAP is adopted in our work.” He concluded.