Fight poverty

Fight poverty

THE Lesotho Situation Report done by UNICEF which was released in December last year says 679 437 people in Lesotho’s rural areas are in dire need of urgent humanitarian assistance.
The report says the most immediate needs relate to access to food and clean drinking water.

It adds that about 17 percent of rural households in Lesotho are using water from unprotected sources.  That is particularly true especially in Maseru, Mokhotlong and Thaba-Tseka districts where between 22 and 32 percent of people are using water from unprotected sources. But the situation is not just dire in rural areas.

There is also rampant urban poverty. Preliminary results of an urban vulnerability assessment were due to be released last month. We have no reason to believe the results in urban areas will be much better.  Our gut feeling is that poverty is also at frightening levels in urban areas.  The evidence is all over Maseru.

We believe the Unicef assessment report aptly captures the dire situation that the majority of Lesotho’s 1.8 million people find themselves under.
The HIV infection rates, which are among the highest in the world, have only served to worsen the situation, according to the aid agency. While this information is nothing new, we believe the government and the political leadership across the divide, must act now to avert disaster. Our problem as a country is that we seem to be so fixated with politics to the extent that we have ignored the other critical social programmes to uplift the poor. That has not served to help the poor.

The fundamental issues affecting the lives of Basotho appear to have fallen off the agenda.
When politicians speak of hunger, it is not with the idea that they want to proffer solutions to the problem.
They are doing so because they see it merely as an election issue.
That is wrong.

The whole national leadership must address the issue of hunger holistically. Lesotho needs permanent solutions to this social malady.
We cannot continue to rely on international aid agencies to feed our people. Lesotho must grow its own food.
That will require a fundamental shift in the manner we do our agriculture.

With our vast water reserves, we believe it is totally unacceptable that very little of our land is under irrigation.  The key to sustainable agriculture for Lesotho will eventually lie in growing our crops under a commercial farming programme.  We need to put the little arable land available under irrigation. Lesotho has the water and it must make use of it to boost its agriculture.
This means we must look beyond a single season. We need to plan for generations.

We also find it quite odd that we still have huge numbers of Basotho without access to clean drinking water. That is also totally unacceptable.
The fact Lesotho sells water to South Africa when its own people have no access to clean water is simply unfathomable.
Access to clean drinking water is a fundamental right for every Mosotho.

\It is therefore critical that these two issues, access to food and access to clean water, are addressed as a matter of urgency.
These two, we believe should be election issues, whenever elections are held in Lesotho.  We need a visionary political leadership that can put in place effective, long-term programmes to wean Lesotho off donor dependency.

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