- Lesotho is currently faced with a double humanitarian crisis. The World Food Programme (WFP) speaks of a "total failure" of this year's agricultural season, and, according to official government figures, the HIV prevalence rate among adult Basotho has reached 31 percent.
As the situation in the small mountain kingdom of Lesotho gets mapped, it becomes increasingly clear that the country is facing its most serious humanitarian crisis in decades. Combined with the rising AIDS numbers, the drought that has gone on since 2001 is reaching the limits of the poor people's resistance.
A recent release from the Lesotho Meteorological Services has indicated that the agricultural season is facing total failure. "Drought-like conditions have also had a negative affect on water supplies in dams, wells and rivers," WFP reports from Lesotho today.
Villagers in the normally fertile valleys of Lesotho are observing that the cattle are beginning to die due to lack of water. Agricultural production is going to be minimal, even less than last year.
Despite rains in December 2003 and January this year, "the country continues to face serious drought conditions and increased vulnerability at the household level," the UN food agency warns. At least 600,000 people will require food aid this season, according to WFP, but the numbers are bound to rise even more.
More and more Basotho now rely on the little foreign food donations they get to survive. Food rations are however too small and are not reaching the people continuously due to lack of donations to the WFP. The UN agency has only received 15 percent of the funds it needs to assist the victims of the regional drought.
Around one third of the people in need of aid are additionally weakened by the HIV-AIDS pandemic, which has stricken the Kingdom especially hard. The disease is already causing the number of orphans to rise and the physical strength of the potential workers to decrease.
Faced by the growing humanitarian crisis, the Maseru government has asked for international help. The World Bank this week sent a mission to Lesotho to study ho the humanitarian crisis could be met by building the capacity of local institutions to handle AIDS and help manage the country's drought-induced food shortages, the UN reports.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.