By Semanyela Phethoka
His Majesty King Letsie III led the launching of the #IFRC10MillionTrees Agenda in the Butha Buthe district in April 2022 at Rehauhetsoe Primary School. In his speech, His Majesty King Letsie indicated that his family will forever support the Red Cross because it does a great job in the country and worldwide.
“Our support for the Red Cross started a long way back when our parents were still alive,” he said.
His Majesty emphasized that since the launch was done in the school playgrounds, it was an educational activity for the students. He added that the children will practice what they saw in their homes when they are grown. He further stated that the trees will not only benefit the school but the community at large.
“Those trees will grow, and you will see and eat their fruits,” His Majesty said.
His Majesty emphasized that with the tree planting initiative, the battle against malnutrition and hunger will be conquered and mitigate the effects of climate change, causing destruction and devastation in the country and worldwide.
On the same occasion, the Minister of Forestry, Range, and Soil Conservation Honourable Motlohi Maliehe advised community members to use their barren land for planting fruit trees. He added that those trees would benefit community members.
On the other hand, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) at the Southern African Cluster Dr. Michael Charles indicated that Lesotho is one of the counties that are hard hit by climate change has led to heavy rains that caused failure to crop growth. Dr. Charles emphasized the point that the IFRC will continue to support Lesotho through the Lesotho Red Cross Society. He indicated that the fact that students were at the event, they have learned the importance of planting trees.
“The children sang a song indicating that since the trees are going to be planted on the fertile soil, they will live to flourish and bear fruits,” he said
According to IFRC Southern African Cluster, the plan was to plant #IFRC10MillionTrees by 2030.
The aim of the initiative of #IFRC10MillionTree is to Contribute directly to food security by planting fruit trees; Developing a culture of planting and caring for trees and understanding the value of ecosystems; Educating on the importance of the environment through school environment clubs and improve nutrition by planting and caring for fruit trees at community schools.
Speaking on behalf of the African Union, Mr. Itonde Kakama indicated that the African National Societies are working hand in hand with their governments to fight the effects of climate change and fighting against food insecurity.
On the other hand, the United Nations Country Coordinator Ms. Amanda Khozi Mukwashi indicated that the children and teachers should not look at the trees as being planted by someone, but they should look at them as being planted by them so that they will take care of them.
“You will benefit a lot from these trees. Take care of them, and they will take care of you.”
According to Lesotho Red Cross President Silas Mosuhli, planting trees will decrease the problem of hunger that the Society and the government are trying to fight. “Because of the climate change, we have been having heavy rains which have affected our crops at the fields, causing poverty in the country. These trees are going to help in protecting the soil from being eroded by heavy winds and running water. The president gave thanks to his Majesty for having honoured the event.
The Society’s Programs Director Mr. Sechaba Mokhameleli indicated that 15 new schools were given 1500 fruit trees. Mr. Mokhameleli added that the six schools have already planted trees.
Mr. Mokhameleli indicated that the main objective of the initiative was to support 10 Red Cross National Societies to make bold commitments and efforts for planting and caring for 10 million trees with strong linkage to the IFRC Pan African Tree Planting Initiative.
The Lesotho Red Cross chose a local school, Rehauhetsoe Primary School, in Butha Buthe, as the 2nd phase launch location after the First Launch was held in South Africa.
LRCS throughout the Hlakametsa area donated 100 trees to 15 schools bringing a total of 1500 trees to be planted and cared for.
The aim is also to promote community ownership to enhance sustainable enterprise development and income generation in the region; creating an exciting and stimulating program of practical work, lectures, and workshops for partners, stakeholders such as communities, and volunteers, through which communities can educate themselves and use it as a platform for advocacy and policy development surrounding environmental issues.
Rehauhetso Primary School was chosen because it is one of the six primary schools under the School Feeding Project of LRCS.