EU relieves drought-affected areas


MASERU – The European Union (EU) has announced its contribution to humanitarian funding to support the most vulnerable families severely impacted by an El Niño-related drought and parched crop fields in Lesotho. This funding will be utilised by the Lesotho Red Cross Society (LRCS) to deliver critical assistance to over 2,500 families across four of the hardest-hit districts, namely; Maseru, Mohale’s Hoek, Qacha’s Nek, and Quthing.

Following the high temperatures experienced in the country, the EU is providing M4,030,000 in humanitarian funding to assist the most vulnerable and affected families. LRCS will use part of this funding to distribute cash grants to 2,500 vulnerable families to alleviate the impact of soaring food prices.

The society will also purchase and distribute agricultural inputs and seeds, such as maize and beans, for planting in the summer. The EU funding will additionally support the training of community-based farmer groups on food preservation and climate-smart agriculture.

The funding will also be allocated for the rehabilitation and construction of water facilities within affected communities. The LRCS will run an awareness campaign to educate communities on water treatment techniques and effective water management practices.

This funding is part of the EU’s overall contribution to the Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF) of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Lesotho has experienced harsh climate-induced shocks for two consecutive seasons, including hailstorms, pests, and heavy rainfall in most parts of the country.

The heavy rainfall experienced in late 2023 and early 2024 led to waterlogged fields and crop failure. This was followed by exceptionally high temperatures between January and March 2024, leading to widespread crop failures and exacerbating the crop failures from the previous two seasons.

The cumulative impact of these shocks led to increased food prices, with rural villagers spending more than half of their income on food. The EU, together with its member states, is the world’s leading donor of humanitarian aid. Relief assistance is an expression of European solidarity towards people in need around the world.

It aims to save lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering, and safeguard the integrity and human dignity of populations affected by natural disasters and human-made crises. The EU has signed a M150 million humanitarian contribution agreement with the IFRC to support the Federation’s Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF).

Funds from the DREF are primarily allocated to “small-scale” disasters, those that do not give rise to a formal international appeal.

DREF was established in 1979 and is supported by contributions from donors. Each time a National Red Cross or Red Crescent Society needs immediate financial support to respond to a disaster, it can request funds from the DREF. For small-scale disasters, the IFRC allocates grants from the Fund, which can then be replenished by the donors.