Climate divides families as rains fail in Lesotho

Thursday, November 24, 2011 - 16:21
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Malekheto Mokoatle describes her struggle to feed her children after a failed harvest and Bruno Sekoli, Lesotho's Chief Negotiator at the COP17 climate talks admits that rain-fed agriculture is failing and urgent measures are needed to adapt.

After last year's disastrous harvest which delivered a fraction of previous yields, Malekheto Mokoatle's husband has had to leave the family home high up in the mountains of Lesotho to seek work in South Africa. He sends money home, but this is only a partial solution and Malekheto doesn't see things getting any better. With her husband away from home she has to get someone else to plough their fields, and share the harvest in return. She is concerned that her children are not getting a good diet and sometimes they are excluded from school becasue she can't pay fees or for uniforms. Her husband will borrow money if he doesn't have any, but the family seems to be getting poorer year by year.

Compared to her childhood when things were 'beautiful' - there was grass on the mountains and firewood to be collected, Malekheto believes things are getting worse and that agriculture will be impossible within another five years.

However, she does believe there's a solution, "It would be a great help if we could get support with irrigation for our fields becasue the main problem for our crops is water".

Ts'eliso Bruno Sekoli, Lesotho's Chief Negotiator at the COP17 climate talks admits that rain-fed agriculture is failing in Lesotho and that the last 18 months have seen the worst impacts so far of a deteriorating situation. He believes that adaptation measures are urgently needed to support poor farmers - new drought resistant seeds and irrigation to overcome the worst effects.

Will rich country negotiators take note of the need for clear and decisive action just 100 miles away from their meeting place in Durban?

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