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Gov’t in drive to lessen climate change effects

By Mamello Mokaeane

Lesotho is among countries that are working on mitigating the harsh effects of climate
change that have rendered life for the rural poor unbearable, these were sentiments
shared at a workshop on strengthening climate services.
The workshop was led by the Ministry of energy and Meteorology with the support of
Global Environmental Facility that is working closely with the Meteorological services
department on a project on “strengthening climate services in Lesotho for climate
resilient development and adaption to climate change”.
Mathabo Mahahabisa, the director of meteorological services said the department, since
the inception of the project, is now at a stage where it feels ready for any weather
situation.
“We started ththis project last year (2017) and so far we have done a lot” she said.
She added that lately Basotho experience about four seasons of the year in one day due
to harsh effects of climate change.
Mahahabisa said the Meteorological services as a result of this project releases alerts to
people on this weather changes on time so that disasters similar to the one experienced
in the southern parts of Lesotho, with the districts of Quthing and Thaba-Tseka the
hardest hit, recently will not catch Basotho off guard.
She commended media houses for playing a role in assisting affected people of Quthing
and Thaba-Tseka through the speedy dissemination of information.
She further said people living in the highlands, especially herd boys in the mountains
should be made aware that there is a heavy snow fall forecast for this year’s winter.
“We must spread messages widely and alert our people and make them understand that
the snow fall we are expecting this winter is going to be heavier than that we
experienced in the past years,” said Mahahabisa.
Mosuoe Letuma, a weather forecaster with the meteorology services department said
the aim of this project is to reduce vulnerability of communities across the country to
climate change’s negative impact and future climate induced risks.
He explained that the project is about climate monitoring, predicting and early warning
mechanism about weather changes.
Letuma said the department has already conducted awareness campaigns in three
districts of Maseru, Quthing and Thaba-Tseka to date.
“We have also trained teacher from 56 schools on climate change issues and trained
journalists on reporting about climate change and held media awards for media
practitioners,” said Letuma.

Letuma continued saying the department conducted a curriculum review for schools
where teachers were trained in adapting and building resilience mechanisms.
“We also tested technology which can be adapted in rural areas such as Linakeng in
Thaba-Tseka district to build resilience” he said.
For his part, Minister of Energy and Meteorology Mokoto Hloaele said “every year,
disasters caused by climate extremes such as droughts, severe wind storms, floods, heat
waves and hail lead to significant losses of life and socio economic impacts.
“These disasters can significantly compromise development and growth, particularly in
countries like ours with the least capacity to respond”.
Hloaele adds that Basotho are on daily basis struggling to cope with the adverse impacts
of climate change.
“We are the hardest hit by this drastic climate changes as a nation,” said Hloaele.
He said 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 he added destroy life and property while also leaving
many households chronically vulnerable, poor and in constant need for humanitarian
assistance.
The Minister said the country’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 nation.
Hloalele said there is an urgent need to increase the adaptive capacity of Lesotho,
through development and implementation of a comprehensive National Climate Early
Warning System for early detection of extreme weather events and timely distribution of
advisory materials to all the levels of communities.
“There are several occasions we can point to in recent years where many lives were
saved because of the efficient dissemination of weather forecasts which were acted on
promptly by national disaster management agencies which have ushered thousands of
people to safety as a result of storms and drought warnings,” said Hloaele.

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