“More than 650,000 people face hunger in Lesotho’s worst drought in decades. Struggling from two successive crop failures, the mountain kingdom has been pushed into a state of crisis by the El Niño weather phenomenon which has brought reduced rainfall to much of southern Africa.” (WFP)
The summer droughts across South Africa has caused severe problems, with many local rivers running dry and preventing harvestable crops from growing.
The government of Lesotho has declared a state of drought emergency and is seeking aid from the international community. They have accumulated nearly 150 million Maloti (US$ 9.6 million) to support their efforts. However, Lesotho is in need for an estimated 584 million Maloti (US $37 million) for provisions including food, water, and medication.
In response to the drought, ACE and Parnassia Groep collaborated to organise a truck with goods to drive to Hamone, a village near the town of Mount Moorosi in the Quthing region of southern Lesotho.
Hamone village is very poor, with hardly any water, and the villagers have to walk very far to a well. Many of the community are subsistence farmers and live off only the food they grow themselves. The ACE team was shocked to see that the fields in the area of the village were barren, brown, and dry, with no crops growing at a time when normally the harvest would start. We were told that normally these rolling hills would be full of tall growing corn this time of year.
Our truck carried 150 ACE1 cookstoves, 150 bags of 25 kg maize meal, 150 2 litre bottles of oil, and 150 2 kg bags of beans and split peas. The ACE team, the chief of the village and the village council representative created a list of families who were in critical need. The goods were then distributed to those families most at risk, and with children to care for.
The group gathered in a field nearby the village for distribution. The ACE sales reps gathered data for every family including name of caretaker, number of orphaned children, their names and ages, the number of people in the household, and telephone number. We also took a picture of every family so we could share their story and put a face to this devastating crisis.
The fuel savings from the stove, and the most expensive staple foods covered for a month will mean these families can spend their limited budgets on vegetables and other necessities, rather than candles and paraffin for cooking and lighting. The charging port means these remote families can keep their phones charged to communicate with family further away, when normally they would have to pay and travel a long distance to charge these phones. Furthermore, the LED light will provide light in these dark winter days.
Parnassia Groep assisted with the funds needed for the provisions. The Dutch mental health institution based in The Hague specialises in psychiatry. They work closely with many agencies and healthcare organisations across the Netherlands. Because of their help and contribution, we were able to distribute 150 stoves and provisions for a 150 families in need.
The families were very happy with the contributions and the women and children started dancing and singing hymns when they saw the stoves.
In successive months, the team will keep in touch with these families and collect data to see what impact the stoves have made for each family and make sure we continue to support them with service and information.
This distribution would not have been possible without the hard work from the team members of ACE, the generous funding from Parnassia, the collaboration from all of the local representatives.
Rea U Leboha!
We thank you!