By T’soloane Mohlomi

MASERU – World Vision Lesotho has launched the fourth instalment of the European Union (EU) funded disaster management project aimed at deterring the effects of natural disasters likely to affect Lesotho.

Dubbed ECHO DRR, (European Civil protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations) with the theme “Strengthening and Consolidating National and Community Capacities for Effective Disaster Preparedness and Response in Lesotho” the project was first launched in 2018 and prioritised the rural districts of Mokhotlong and Qacha’s Nek.

This current version is funded to the tune of 1.7 million Euros and is tipped to last for a duration of two years ending in May 2025 next year. It will focus on Thaba-Tseka, Mokhotlong, Maseru and Leribe districts.

Upon implementation the key results for the project will be Strengthening a Functional Multi-Hazard Early Warning System, Strengthening logistics preparedness capacities of local institutions, enhancing coordination among local and national institutions for disaster preparedness, enhancing the Education in Emergencies (EIE) policy environment, and disaster preparedness and response capacities of schools and using a crisis modifier with the aim of assisting  households in responding to rapid-onset shocks and emergencies

Speaking at the launch, held yesterday at the Mojalefa Lephole Convention centre, World Vision National Director, Mr James Chifwelu, said World Vision was a Christian organization which operated with respect to other religions, saying in their core values and virtuous principles they always focused on the well being of children and communities.

Mr Chifwelu said World Vision currently receives two primary types of funding, which included sponsorship which supports Area programs (AP’s) for up to 15 years, and grants which fund specific projects.

“Today we come together under the auspices of an essential initiative, the European Union Funded disaster risk reduction project. This project represents a continuation and potential consolidation of past European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) projects that have been dedicated to enhancing, supporting, and promoting disaster risk management.

“World Vision’s mission has always been to ensure that children realize and live life in all its fullness. Since 1987 we have been operating in Lesotho, within 14 Area programmes spread across eight districts of Lesotho.

“In December, we applied for and were successful in securing the fourth Phase of this project. This achievement solidifies our longstanding cooperation and harmonious relationship with the European Union.” He said.

World Vision’s work is centred on three key focus areas, intended to bring extreme poverty to an end by reaching children who continue to struggle in the hardest to reach places through livelihoods and resilience, health, HIV nutrition, advocacy, child protect and participation, water, sanitation and hygiene, and humanitarian emergency affairs.

The three focus areas are long-term development, advocacy and disaster management, hence the current project.

Due to having commenced in 2018 ECHO was extended in both 2020 and 2021, which constituted the first three phases of the ECHO project. According to World Vision, across the phases the project reached over 41,265 individuals and a total of 12,265 children.

The organization says it empowered Village Disaster Management Teams (VDTMs), providing life saving packages.

Enviably, and most recently World Vision claim to have distributed 1million Euros to over 3600 of the most food insecure households in the country mainly in the remote districts of Mokhotlong, Thaba-Tseka and Leribe.

Now with the introduction of this current 2year project, intended to be implemented in the hard to reach areas of Maseru, Mokhotlong, Leribe, and Thaba-Tseka, the project is likely to have a better outcome now due to possessing the feedback and experiences from the past three versions.

On her part Ms Mamello Tsekoa from World Vision Humanitarian Emergency Affairs said 31,600 households were reached in multipurpose cash transfers, and making reference to The Kingdom of Morocco, which was recently struck by an earthquake, she said it was possible for Lesotho to experience a natural disaster, and therefore emphasized the importance of being ready.

The office of the Disaster Management Authority (DMA) represented by Ms Setori Lejaha welcomed the project saying it would help in facilitating the DMA’s job and overall reach.