The World Food Programme Regional Director (RD), Dr Menghestab Haile paid a courtesy call to His Majesty King Letsie III at the Royal Palace in Maseru on Tuesday.
Dr Haile said His Majesty is the Ambassador of the African Union Nutrition Champion and serves not only Lesotho but also the southern region, saying they have discussed how they can work together to address the issue of nutrition in Africa.
He said COVID-19 pandemic, food insecurity and climate change are complex, remarking that food security within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region is heavily dependent on agriculture and smallholder farmers and that even without the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, food security is very difficult to sustain.
He said with the COVID-19 outbreak and climate change, things became more difficult.
He said WFP together with the government and United Nations are working on empowering smallholder farmers so that they can sustain through harsh conditions, noting that they will continue to work together to address issues.
On his three-day visit to Lesotho, the Regional Director also visited the Siloe Catchment site in the Mohale’s Hoek district. The Siloe Catchment Site was launched in 2015 through the support of WFP and its project; Improving Adaptive Capacity of Vulnerable and Food Insecure Population.
While in Mohale’s Hoek, the Regional Director, commended the WFP Country Director and her team for their unwavering commitment to working with the government of Lesotho to ensure that WFP achieves its mandate within Lesotho.
He said Lesotho has the potential to succeed as it has the benefit of clean water, clean air and hardworking people hence this area can be the center of gravity in all aspects, adding that when talking about women empowerment and youth employment he sees it happing at this site project.
Dr Haile said for the period of two months, he has traveled to eight countries but has not visited such a successful project like Siloe Catchment Site.
He stressed that WFP will continue to support the government of Lesotho through such projects so that the country will achieve food security.
On behalf of the Ministry of Forestry and Land Reclamation, Mr. Sekoati Sekali thanked WFP for this project and also applauded the farmers for the good work saying it is important for the community to work hard to overcome hunger and poverty.
Mr. Sekali said this project will help the community to have food security which will prevent malnutrition.
Mr. Sekali said the catchment site still needs some improvements, noting that the Ministry of Forestry and Land Reclamation will work hand in hand with the community to ensure that the place becomes a success for the benefit of the community.
Also speaking, the WFP Country Director said she was pleased to have visited the Siloe Catchment site to see what the Ministry of Forestry and Land Reclamation has been doing, noting that she is proud to see the success of the project within the short time and she impressed about the development that has been made on this project.
On behalf of the farmers, Mr. Selala Pitikoe said after facing the challenge of unemployment, they decided to start the project of growing vegetables and fruits as a way to make a living.
Mr. Pitikoe said they saw an opportunity that through this project they can bottle water and sell it to generate income for a living.
Siloe Catchment Site was established in 2015 with the support of WFP and so far the site has established an orchard, community garden, rehabilitated site, constructed dams for fish farming plan and constructed water tank for irrigation and household use.
By Staff Reporter: Noliwe Velaphe