January 12, 2004

Drought situation worsened

With the winter harvest described as a failure and drought now affecting the summer cropping season, there is concern that Lesotho may be facing a humanitarian disaster. "The situation is not good. According to World Food Programme (WFP) representative Techeste Zergaber there are between 600.000 and 700.000 people who would require food aid in the coming months. The cumulative impact of the ongoing drought on people's ability to cope was something Zergaber has been trying to "sensitise donors to". Meetings have been scheduled with the government and donors, and "it is likely that very soon the government will make an appeal for international assistance. Some of the donors already have the position ... that it is a disaster situation", Zergaber said. The scale of the need is underlined further by the fact that Lesotho has a population of just over 2 million. (IRIN)

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