MASERU – Lesotho has launched climate change Early Warning Systems Phase II in a joint effort between the UN Environmental Programme and government’s Ministry of Energy and Meteorology, through the Lesotho Meteorological Services launched Early Warnings (EWS) Phase 2.
EWSs are key elements of climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, and aim to avoid or reduce the damages caused from hazards.
To be effective, early warning systems actively involve people and communities at risk from a range of hazards, facilitate public education and awareness of risks, disseminate messages and warnings efficiently and ensure that there is a constant state of preparedness and that early action is enabled.
The significance of an effective early warning system lies in the recognition of its benefits by local people.
Speaking at the occasion the minister of Energy and Meteorology, Mohapi Mohapinyane, said Lesotho’s vulnerability to climate change impacts and climate variability is continuously increasing and as a mountainous, landlocked Least Developed Country, these effects are unbearable by the county.
“The country is already experiencing severe droughts, early frosts, strong winds, heavy snowfall, hail and thunderstorms, sometimes snow in summer, among other extreme weather events, which destroy property and result in loss of lives thereby leaving many households chronically vulnerable, poor and in constant need for humanitarian assistance,” he said.
For his part said UN Resident Coordinator, Salvator Niyonzima, also pointed out that the situation in Lesotho is very worrying.
“Climate change has been the driving force behind recurrent droughts that have pushed more than half a million people into a major food security crisis,” Niyonzima continued.
He added that it was imperative that comprehensive action is taken now to address the negative effects of climate change and ensure that the most vulnerable people are not left behind.“Due to our country’s vulnerability to climate change we need to support the scaling up of existing EWS coverage through modern equipment and technology even after the project is completed,” noted project manager Mosuoe Letuma
The country’s first EWS phase was launched in 2011 with the overall objective to develop and strengthen technical and human capacity required for proper monitoring and forecasting of climate change impacts, to enable timely prediction of extreme weather events and to improve planning for climate change adaptation.
The evaluation assessed project performance along the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) criteria of relevance, effectiveness and efficiency, impacts (actual and potential) and sustainability.
The evaluation has two primary purposes: to provide evidence of results to meet accountability requirements, and to promote learning, feedback, and knowledge sharing through results and lessons learned among the government and communities involved in the project, the UN Environmental Programme and the Global Environment Facility and its network of implementing agencies.
The project delivered 92 percent of the outputs and registered significant results in three components. It made a significant contribution to mainstreaming climate risk into development processes, by responding to the opportunistic rise in demand for climate information generated by Planning-led formulation of National Climate Change Policy, approved by parliament and cabinet in December 2017.
It provided policy briefs with recommendations for mainstreaming climate risk into ten climate sensitive sectors: among them the Ministries of Forestry, Range and Soil Conservation, Water, Agriculture and Food Security, Local Government and Chieftainship Affairs, Defense and National Security, and Development Planning.
The National Climate Coordination Committee was established by the project provided an effective mechanism for coordinating the climate change formulation process broadly. The Committee continued to coordinate the now approved policy formulation process and has mobilized resources to finance its operations post
The mid-term review (MTR) undertaken in 2014 captured the following issues. a) It found a significant lag between project approval and actual start of the project: the project was approved in April 2009 but commenced in June 2011.
The second EWS phase is aimed at strengthening climate monitoring capabilities, early warning systems and human resources in Lesotho in order to effectively address climate impacts and better plan adaptation to climate change and reduce vulnerability in the key sectors that include agriculture, rangelands, human health and water management systems in the targeted communities.
The project with a total cost of $42 060 (M675 063.00) will pilot in six districts namely Qacha’s Nek, Thaba-Tseka, Mokhotlong, Leribe, Mafeteng and Quthing to test the effectiveness of the EWS on “nowcast” weather, floods forecasting and advisories capacity.
Specifically, these sites include the former three Least Developed Countries Fund LDCF-supported EWS I sites in Tosing (The Orange-Senqu River catchment), Linakeng in Thaba-Tseka, Khubelu River catchment in Mokhotlong and the middle Hlotse river in Leribe.
As a follow up of the EWSI, the project will support the scaling up of the existing EWS coverage to the whole country through procurement of additional modern equipment/technology, for improvement of the institutional and human capacity needed to operationalize an effective climate change EWS and to ensure this capacity is sustainable beyond the lifetime of the project.
Climate variability and change is impacting Lesotho through increased frequency and intensity of climate hazards such as drought, episodes if heavy rain fall, snow storms and flash flooding. This condition is currently affecting, and is very likely to further affect the overall country’s development and economy.
The funding has been secured from the LDCF for full sized project to implement Lesotho’s number 4 priority NAPA intervention: “improvement of an early warning system against climate induced disasters and hazard.
In 2015/16 Lesotho experienced the worst drought to have hit the country in the last 35 years as result of the El Nino phenomenon in southern Africa. There was a decline in recharge of aquifers and springs, a reported loss of livestock and widespread crop failure with massive drops in food production.
The government of Lesotho declared a state of emergency and appealed to the international community for urgent humanitarian assistance.
In December 2015, 195 states signed up to the Paris Agreement. This is the most important pact for international cooperation on tackling climate change, and countries are taking steps to deliver on it.
The UK, Norway, France and New Zealand are some of the countries that have legally committed to reach net zero emissions by 2050.