It is said ‘be careful what we wish for’. Having experienced drought and low harvests, and many of us having prayed and pleaded, the heavens have answered and the clouds have poured down with torrential force and at times, devastating effects. Water cleans and cleanses, replenishes and nourishes. It is without question, second to the air we breathe, the most important natural resource known to planet earth. Proving to be both a blessing and a curse, the recent rains have brought greatly needed relief and sprouted the birth of new life from parched lands. However, as is the case in neighbouring South Africa and other parts of the continent, media reports have shown that in their wake, these rains can also bring disruption, ushering in flooding and destruction to homes in several reported instances.
The New Year brings with it rain, and as is customary of the Basotho nation, we hope and trust it is indicative of blessings for the future. Rain is synonymous with the fruition of new beginnings and, as is often the case with that which is good, there may be negative elements that follow. Disaster management capacity building, on all levels, is necessary to prepare for the coming uncertainties.
Climate change refers to the alterations in weather patterns resulting from excessive pollution that is characteristic of, but not limited to, highly developed countries. This pollution is the result of industrialisation that can produce toxic gas and chemical waste. Over time, it has influenced the environment adversely the world over as we are seeing too clearly now. Our planet is no longer as we know it to be and it is the direct result of humanity’s desire to be all-consuming, to out-do our predecessors and each other with regard to technological advances and industrial achievements. The effects of climate change become more evident still. To date, all across the globe, albeit to varying degrees, weather patterns have altered and are displaying themselves with extreme force and dramatic consequences.
The issue of climate change is being recognised internationally with summits such as the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP25) being held to engage all sectors of society on a global scale in finding means to tackle it. A delegation from Lesotho headed by the Prime Minister was present at both summits. They were undertaken with the intended hope of urging countries to pledge to the lowering of their respective greenhouse gas emissions. Alas this was not meant to be. Every so often, money trumps sensibility and common sense that would be in favour of the collective good. Those who have the power to make a difference and redirect the course of earth’s future, chose rather, to flip a coin. Despite global reports of natural disasters occurring to unusual degrees and the extremes in temperature highs and lows that are affecting agricultural outputs, global leaders do not see (or choose to ignore) the severity of climate change. And as ever, those on the ground who vote those leaders into power, we as everyday people, bear the brunt.
The good news is, even on a small scale, we can make a difference. Ecologically conscious practices are necessary to counter the effects of these abnormalities in climate. For Lesotho, the preservation of our water resources and conservation of our flora is crucial. The (often dismissed) importance of gestures such as recycling waste materials and planting trees is increasingly relevant. There needs to be more emphasis on instilling these practices in our younger generation through continuous education. After all, they are the roots that become tomorrow’s shoots. Let us embrace this rain and be grateful for heaven’s tears as through them, we are given opportunity to sustain all forms of life. Plant a tree today with the faith that it will contribute to life tomorrow. We are of this soil and it is for us to preserve it.