GENEVA / LESOTHO EMERGENCY APPEAL

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20-Dec-2019 00:01:52
Devastating drought in Lesotho has left more than half a million people facing severe food shortages and tens of thousands “one step away from famine”, the UN humanitarian office (OCHA) said on Friday, in an appeal for funds. UNTV CH

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STORY: GENEVA / LESOTHO EMERGENCY APPEAL
TRT: 1:51
SOURCE: UNTV CH
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DATELINE: 20 DECEMBER 2019, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

SHOTLIST:

20 DECEMBER 2019, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

1. Wide shot, Palais des Nations exterior
2. Med shot, press room
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Jens Laerke, Spokesperson, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA):
“The UN team and humanitarian partners is today launching a 34 million dollars flash appeal – this one – ion Lesotho to urgently support over 260,000 people with lifesaving interventions up until April next year.”
5. Med shot, journalists typing on laptops.
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Jens Laerke, Spokesperson, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA):
“A total of half a million people – that’s more than a quarter of the population of Lesotho – which as you know is a small, landlocked country in southern Africa - are facing severe food insecurity because of severe drought which has gripped the country at the same time as people are approaching the peak of the lean season.”
7. Close up, journalists
8. SOUNDBITE (English) Jens Laerke, Spokesperson, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA):
“Overall cereal production decreased by more than 60 per cent compared to 2018. The Government of Lesotho on 30 October declared a national disaster and issued a drought response and resilience plan. Our flash appeal will support that plan.”
9. Med shot, TV camera operators, tripods, TV cameras
10. SOUNDBITE (English) Jens Laerke, Spokesperson, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA):
“Most of the food insecure people are in rural areas and we estimate that at the peak of the lean season, which runs from January to March, some 71,000 people will face emergency conditions in rural districts. That is IPC phase 4 – one step away from famine.”
11. Med shot, journalists
12. SOUNDBITE (English) Jens Laerke, Spokesperson, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA):
“One particular concern with those movements is that it makes particularly women and children, girls in particular, very vulnerable to sexual exploitation and abuse.”
13. Various shots, journalists

STORYLINE:

Devastating drought in Lesotho has left more than half a million people facing severe food shortages and tens of thousands “one step away from famine”, the UN humanitarian office (OCHA) said on Friday, in an appeal for funds.

“The UN team and humanitarian partners (are) today launching a $34 million flash appeal … to urgently support over 260,000 people with lifesaving interventions up until April next year,” OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke told journalists in Geneva.

Ten districts in the small landlocked southern African nation are already “severely food insecure”, Laerke said, with rural smallholders worst-hit and forced to leave their homes to survive.

“Most of the food insecure people are in rural areas and we estimate that at the peak of the lean season, which runs from January to March, some 71,000 people will face emergency conditions in rural districts. That is IPC phase 4 – one step away from famine,” the spokesperson added.

As the drought worsens, migration into cities is expected to increase, OCHA warned in a statement. It noted that women and girls have reportedly left their rural homes to urban areas or South Africa in search of work, mostly as domestic workers trading sex for money or food.

Citing the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification food security assessments, often referred to by the acronym IPC, the OCHA official explained that the 2018/2019 planting season had been badly affected by late rains and scorching temperatures.

And with forecasts indicating that Lesotho will receive below-average rainfall during the current 2019/2020 season – October to March - communities now face three back-to-back failed harvests. The most vulnerable are in Leribe and Maseru districts.

Today, “a total of half a million people – that’s more than a quarter of the population of Lesotho…are facing severe food insecurity because of severe drought which has gripped the country at the same time as people are approaching the peak of the lean season,” Laerke explained.

Drought has a massive impact on Lesotho because most of the rural population relies on farming for their income. Women are particularly vulnerable because they own fewer assets than male farmers, OCHA insisted, as many more families will be forced to leave their homes and head for towns, where they face additional risks.

One worry linked to this migration is that Lesotho has the second highest HIV prevalence rate in the world, at more than one in four people.

“It makes particularly women and children, girls in particular, very vulnerable to sexual exploitation and abuse,” Laerke insisted.

According to OCHA, food insecurity levels are 64 per cent higher than last year, when the number of food insecure people was around 309,000 (257,283 in rural areas, 51,683 in urban zones).

Highlighting the catastrophic impact of the extreme weather on harvests, Laerke said that overall cereal production had decreased by more than 60 per cent compared to 2018.

Individual crops have suffered even greater losses, such as maize and sorghum, which respectively saw reductions of 78 and 93 per cent.

“The Government of Lesotho on 30 October declared a national disaster and issued a drought response and resilience plan,” he said. “Our flash appeal will support that plan.”

The Flash Appeals aims to conduct awareness-raising sessions and distribute life-saving information materials about risks of irregular migration, gender-based violence, violence against children, child marriage, trafficking in persons and how to report abuse.

Lesotho’s 83 million USD drought response and resilience plan aims to help more than 508,000 people, including 68,250 children.
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