By Thea Rabe, Norwegian Red Cross
When the Ntsoa family realized they were not going to get any harvest from their land in southwestern Lesotho this season, Mathabo Ntsoa’s daughter had to leave to find work in the city. Now, Mathabo, 65, is left alone in the village, taking care of her three grandchildren.
“We have nothing. Nothing to plough, nothing to harvest,” Mathabo says, while her youngest granddaughter Rethabile, aged 3, sits between her legs.
For some time now, Mathabo has had to take care of her grandchildren, while her daughter has gone to the city, a two hour drive away, looking for a job so she can feed her children and family.
“Usually we get money from selling crops from our land,” she says.“Nowadays, we cannot harvest anything, and I’m left making local alcohol, so that I can sell it.”
Lesotho, along with most of southern Africa, is experiencing severe drought caused by erratic rainfall in2015, and coupled with the strongest El Niño in the last 35 years.
Mathabo lives in a village in the Mafeteng district of Lesotho. It is the district that is most affected by the drought in the country. “Our rivers are dried out and the landscape does not look the same as it used to,” Mathabo explains.
“In all my life, I have never experienced a drought this bad.”
As winter approaches, temperatures in the Mafeteng area will likely drop dramatically. Combined with a lack of food, living conditions will become even more critical for the over 500,000 people who are currently food insecure in Lesotho.
The Lesotho Red Cross Society is monitoring the situation closely. They have already distributed staple food such as maize, beans, and oil, aiming to reach 9,000 people. Still, the need to do more is urgent.
“People in this area are lacking water because the water sources are drying out. In addition, food prices are rising and people here cannot afford to buy provisions at the markets,” says LitebohoTsiu, divisional secretary, Lesotho Red Cross Society.
To get more help out to the villages, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched an Emergency Appeal to support the Lesotho Red Cross Society in providing emergency and life-saving support to families as they battle the effects of the severe drought.
Still, there are a lot of people affected by the drought who are not getting help. And as winter approaches, Liteboho is concerned about the Ntsoa family and all the other vulnerable people in her district.
“I am very worried. Because if no help is provided, people will die,” she says.
The Emergency Appeal of 664,073 Swiss francs is aimed at meeting the food security needs of 9,000 people affected by the drought with a focus on food distributions, health and hygiene promotion, livelihoods and related training activities, and the distribution of seeds and tools. Launched in January, it currently runs through July 2016.