Following the heavy rainfall coupled with winds which caused severe damages affecting 968 people whose impacts were felt mostly by communities in Maseru and Quthing districts from the 22nd -28th December 2023, Lesotho Red Cross Society (LRCS) received the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to the tune of 71 435 CHF from International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) to respond.
The overall objective of this DREF is to provide support and assistance to 770 targeted people affected in Quthing and Maseru through a comprehensive response addressing humanitarian priorities which are shelter, livelihoods, and mitigating immediate hygiene and disease prevention while monitoring the situation.
The assessment revealed that storms did not only disrupted infrastructure and houses but also affected household economic stability. Business owners and people working in affected businesses were affected and also lost their daily income. People also lost their valuable property and other household items.
When the event occurred, most farmers were midway through the summer cropping and the excessive rains led to waterlogged fields and this has a potential to threaten the next harvest and livelihoods as most people in rural community areas rely heavily on agriculture as their primary source of food and income.
The prioritized needs include WASH, shelter, food parcels and other essential households’ items. Following the assessment and verification exercise, LRCS will be able to release the support in the coming months. Strategy is to provide cash intervention with some in-kind distribution for a holistic approach that will mitigate the negative impacts of the disaster and assist the affected families to cope whilst restoring their well-being and covering their emergency needs.
Protection, Gender, and Inclusion (PGI), and Community Engagement and Accountability (CEA) will be mainstreamed in all the interventions. For instance, CEA approaches will use suggestion box, the already existing toll-free number and the formation of community help desk.
LRCS is also targeting to provide mattress, blankets and kitchen sets that will constitute the minimum of items to help the families and later give them minimum necessities when they get back to their restored houses. Through this DREF operation, each family will receive the total of LSL 3,700.
This multi-usage cash one off instalment will be provided to efficiently cover the multi-sectoral needs of the affected families, include provision of shelter, cover the basic needs that ensured to each family’s minimum protection to mitigate further harm. – M 1200 of that instalment is calculated to purchase average minimum food basket. – M 2500 of that instalment aims to address shelter needs such as roofing and repair other the damages.
This will help the affected families to return to their households. Beneficiaries will receive mobile cash transfers distribution using the two available network services to ensure the best coverage and access for all the families.
Community-based targeting and verification with local authorities will be done to avoid duplication and corruption-related targeting. Community Engagement Accountability tools will be in place to allow two-way communication between stakeholders and beneficiaries.
The project will last for four Months starting from January to May 2024.
Climate change increasingly exerts pressure on natural resources, threatening humanity and nature. Water-related risks are an example of this: in many parts of the world, scarce and continuously declining availabilities of water cause major concerns such as drought, while in other places, too much water causes great disturbance in the form of floods. Overall, climate change is expected to decrease water supply, alter the timing of water availability, and increase the severity of both droughts and floods, hitting already vulnerable communities the hardest. These threats to the environment and local populations require ambitious measures in response – and preparation.
The availability of data on global water resources has a role to play in managing these challenges. This is why, with Google.org funding, Deltares, the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have joined forces to develop the Global Water Watch. This platform provides free, globally accessible, near-real-time information on water availability in over 70,000 global reservoirs and major river systems, derived using satellite data, machine learning, and cloud computing. While there is often a focus on the correlation between drought and precipitation in anticipatory action research and operations, the relevance of information on available water storage can be overlooked. The Global Water Watch could change this, by providing easy-to-access information on water storage globally which allows for predictions of drought occurring, and appropriate anticipatory measures, ahead of time. In the tool’s ongoing development, thanks to funding from the European Space Agency (ESA), Deltares and 510, the data and digital initiative of the Netherlands Red Cross, are collaborating to generate further improvements by implementing the monitoring of water storage and investigating the usefulness of this information for humanitarian purposes.
“Global Water Watch may provide essential information in areas that strongly rely on surface water resources for, for example, food production or drinking water supply. If drought occurs in a remote area, Global Water Watch should be able to detect this at an early stage, provide key insights into the amount of available water, and potentially inform stakeholders such as the Red Cross.” – Hessel Winsemius, Lead Hydrologist at Deltares
The tool is expected to facilitate responding to extreme weather events, managing climate-related risks, and making societies more climate-resilient. This is where 510 comes in: in close cooperation with the developers of the Global Water Watch, we have engaged in dialogue with several National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies active in anticipatory action and water management to understand their needs and ensure the final tool will meet them. By incorporating these insights, the Global Water Watch has the potential to be a trailblazer among tools used by anticipatory action professionals in the humanitarian sector to predict drought and protect lives and livelihoods in affected populations accordingly.
Predicting and reducing the impact of drought in Lesotho
One of such dialogues was undertaken in Lesotho, where inconsistent rainfall, a hot, dry climate and intense drought are making the country’s population increasingly vulnerable. A shortage of permanent surface water over large parts of the country has turned water into a scarce resource, exposing local communities to food insecurity due to crop failure and unproductive rangelands. The Lesotho Red Cross Society is closely involved in water management to mitigate such risks and protect people from their impact. To test the usefulness of the Global Water Watch for these purposes, a delegation from the 510 team undertook a visit to Lesotho in March 2023. Discussions with the National Society and other stakeholders such as the Lesotho Ministry of Water contributed to a better understanding of current tools used to inform decision-making in this context, allowing for conclusions on where the Global Water Watch could fit in. This visit inspired ongoing conversations on global and local levels about how water storage data can inform anticipatory action. Guided by these conversations, the tool has undergone further technical improvements.
“This initiative has been an eye opener to the National Society and the government partners overall. Global Water Watch provides useful information that can support programming with the aim of helping the most vulnerable.” – Sebongile Hlubi, Anticipatory Action and Readiness Coordinator at Lesotho Red Cross Society
While already advanced and ready for use in multiple contexts, the development of the Global Water Watch is ever-evolving. The platform will be further scaled up in the near future. Key developments foreseen in the forthcoming years are to improve the accuracy and information on uncertainty for existing monitored reservoirs, allow users to add or suggest monitoring of new water bodies, and predict water availability in the forthcoming months.
On the 10th August 2023, Lesotho Red Cross Society (LRCS) received a request from St Paul School for the Death in Leribe that the school was about to be closed due to lack of food. As a result, Leribe Division and the LRCS Headquarters facilitated the provision of essentials for the school in order to keep students at school for the time being while the school seek additional support elsewhere.
On Thursday the 17th August 2023, the following items (food parcels and cosmetics) were provided to the school: Maize meal, beans, cooking oil, washing powder, bath soap, roll-on, Vaseline, sanitary towels, toothpastes, hand washing soaps, brooms and mops.
According to the Acting Principal Mrs ‘Makhabane Malataliana, the school is committed in providing accommodation, happy caring and simulating environment to children who are deaf and those with intellectual disabilities from ten districts and some are from very vulnerable households.
“Due to increasing number of children, the school has encountered countless problems which may lead to high chances of school being closed. We normally survive with the subvention from the government, when the money is delayed, we are forced to take food on credit from the local supermarket and pay as soon as we get the money. Mrs. Malataliana indicated
She further said they used to survive through their broilers chicken, they ate and sold eggs they produced but they were forced to sell the chickens last year since they had no other way to survive.
“We are looking into investing into agriculture so that we do not depend mainly on donors for suvilal, the good thing about the students in this school is that they like doing things with their own hands so I do not think vegetable planting will be a problem”. Said Mrs Malataliana
She concluded by thanking LRCS for the support saying the food and cosmetics
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.