The Disaster Management Authority(DMA) in union with the World Food Program(WFP) and stakeholders held a validation meeting for the developed anticipatory action plan in place for the predicted drought which is expected to hit the country in July.

As a means of protecting the country from the harsh effects of climate change and acting ahead of time before the determined hazards, an action plan was put in place for four districts which are more likely to be affected. The four are Mafeteng, Mohale’s Hoek, Quthing and Thaba Tseka which were determined according to the country’s history and climatic trends and were found chronically vulnerable to drought.

Therefore, the regional anticipatory action Advisor, Anna Lena Huhn emphasized it was deemed essential that anticipatory action is taken so that Basotho do not adversely suffer from the effects of drought and to make sure that when it hits, vulnerable groups in the country, including the underprivileged and elderly, are taken care of and get the support they need for the time. The Disaster Manager in Manager and plan coordinator, Momonaheng Monoto, said the main focus is on disaster preparedness and disaster risk reduction initiatives so as to safeguarding lives and livelihoods from immediate effects and protecting long term development gains.

She further stressed the importance of anticipatory action by emphasizing that in the previous occurrence of different disasters, it took longer to respond and recover because plans were made after those disasters hit, resulting in high costs and intensified damage. Explaining the anticipatory action she said, “It is a needs-based pre-agreed plan that consolidates the key information that will highlight the impact of drought. The information is required in order to deliver timely action ahead of hazards.

The proposed actions include: the development and dissemination of early warning key messages and awareness advisories so that the nation is sensitized and  alerted on time; cash transfers for social protection; provision of safe and adequate water which includes construction and rehabilitation of boreholes, springs and ponds as well as procuring plastic water tanks and fittings; lastly to provide agricultural inputs including nutrition, rich, tolerant and early maturing seeds, drugs, fodder seeds and pesticides.

The DMA Chief Economic Planner, Molehe Mokone said “today marks a great day in the history of Disaster Risk Management, where we look beyond the preparedness phase in DRR, waiting, praying that the effects of disasters will not be too harsh on us to undermine our development efforts through the heavy burden in response. He said it has been acknowledged that the country has challenges beyond its preparedness and response efforts, among vulnerable communities. Most of these challenges are a result of climate stressors and shocks, which he stressed unless early warning efforts are prioritized, the beautiful country will be lost.

Over the years, promising developments have been made in the enhancement of forecasting technologies and early warning information. Forecasters are now able to tell with lead time the likely effect of climate shock. However, there was a recognized gap in accessing early warning information in communities due to several complexities the country is faced with.

The adverse effects of climate change globally have proved the urgency of anticipatory action which has now become part of the humanitarian imperative of the 21st century. “The number of unprotected people who are in a food crisis or emergency has never risen as sharply as today, and vulnerabilities are increasing steadily in the wake of climate stresses, economic recessions, spikes in food prices and social tensions”, he said. He further acknowledged WFP in appreciation for bringing to attention the global efforts and opportunities in closing the gap between disaster preparedness and response.

The Project Coordinator, Nkopo Matsepe added that although things have changed as a result of climate change in Lesotho and even though there has been rainfall, the country still experiences drought. “The trend analysis is such that the country is predominantly experiencing drought. If you look at the past ten years, we have consistently been having drought in the country. However, the efforts to address the effects of drought have not been very much impactful. We deem it essential, and working with the government of Lesotho and all our partners, that the anticipatory action is taken so that Basotho are not adversely affected. He declared the initiated plan for the nation was drafted in consultation with all the districts stakeholders. He lastly emphasized the funds are already there to utilize and the only thing left is for the plan to be accepted by the partners including the WFP, Red Cross and more.