El Niño recovery – Reversing the losses

By | 6 December 2017

Few would believe that less than a year ago, this part of the world was in the grip of an intense drought, driven by one of the strongest El Niño events ever witnessed. More than 60 million people worldwide were rendered food insecure, as large swathes of otherwise productive land, lay barren.

The video tells the story of Dolly Dube, a livestock farmer, who recalls how the drought led to severe water scarcity, poor veld quality and limited pasture availability. Many animals died, and those that barely made it, were in terrible condition.

Having witnessed the consequences of the drought first hand, Dolly was inspired to play a role in the district animal health system to save animal lives. Dolly now volunteers as a ParaVet. She was trained by government extension agents with the support FAO’s emergency and resilience – building programme for Southern Africa. Dolly gets her drugs from Animal Health Management Centers that have now been equipped with solar systems to manage the cold chain facilities ensuring that vaccines and drugs are stored in optimum conditions. She also gives basic tips to fellow farmers on how to take care of their livestock and prevent death.

Given the magnitude of the crisis across multiple countries, timely and coordinated support was crucial in assisting vulnerable families to restore agricultural production and regain their livelihoods. FAO worked closely with other stakeholders and the government departments in countries that were hardest hit by the drought such as Lesotho.

Due to the early interventions, farmers such as Phomolo Thinyane who lives with his 86 year old mother and two adopted sons are looking forward to a good harvest this year. Phomolo received seed and fertilizer together with training in innovative conservation agriculture techniques.

Emergency response such as that received by Phomolo was also crucial in averting protracted relief operations and increased long term vulnerability, which can also lead to migration as income and labor opportunities cease to exist.

Matseko Raseboko, who received vegetable seeds and shade nets to preserve soil moisture and protect her crops from the intense heat, is proud of how successful her enterprise has become.

Climatic patterns are evolving as cyclic droughts, floods and cyclones become more intense and frequent, globally, hampering efforts to achieve Zero hunger and consequently Zero poverty. But the inspiring stories of Dolly, Phomolo and Matseko in this video show that with timely planning and coordinated and early response, communities can once again thrive as they become more resilient to future crises.