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Lesotho’s vulnerability to drought will continue without increased investment in resilience, says IFRC President

Lesotho will continue to experience devastating droughts and food crises unless there is a dramatic increase in investment in community-level resilience and preparedness.

Without measures to strengthen the ability of people to withstand droughts and other hazards, the terrible food insecurity we have seen here in recent years will keep on returning,” said Mr Tadateru Konoé, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), during a visit to Lesotho, where he met the country’s King Letsie III, as well as other government officials.

Despite a recent improvement in food security, Lesotho continues to be severely affected by recurrent droughts, which compound an already complex socio-economic situation. Lesotho has one of the highest prevalence of HIV and AIDS in the world. In addition, the recent drought has had a crippling effect on the economy.

In response to the most recent food crisis, Lesotho Red Cross Society and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched an emergency appeal to support 4,500 people with food aid. The response also sought to strengthen community resilience.

“We cannot simply treat the symptoms of hunger,” added Mr Konoé. “Where possible, we also need to address the root causes – the underlying vulnerabilities that leave people so exposed to droughts and other shocks. That is what we tried to do.”

For Mr Konoé, who is a national of Japan, the visit to Lesotho was also a sign of solidarity due to close ties between the two countries. In November 2016, H.M. Letsie III, King of the Kingdom of Lesotho and H.M. Queen Masenate Mohato Seeiso visited Fukushima, to express their condolences and solidarity to the Japanese people affected by the triple disasters—an earthquake, a tsunami and a meltdown at Fukushima power plant—which had hit Japan on 11 March 2011.

“We call on our partners to invest in local actors such as Lesotho Red Cross Society. Strengthening local capacity means that the acquired skills and tools remain within the community and, as a result, this enhances preparedness and resilience,” said King Letsie III of Lesotho.

Distributed by APO on behalf of International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
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