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Live Twitter Chat Draws Attention to Lesotho's Worst Drought in Recent History

 A farmer showing a drought affected field in Lesotho. Photo used with permission from Send a Cow.

A farmer showing a drought affected field in Lesotho. Photo used with permission from Send a Cow.

Send a Cow, a UK-based international development charity, organized a live Twitter chat#askLesotho, on February 24, 2016, to discuss Lesotho‘s worst drought in recent history and the relative lack of media attention.

Lesotho, a landlocked kingdom completely surrounded by South Africa, declared a state of emergency last month. According local UN officials, as many as one in three Basotho may require food aid until next year.

World Food Programme's country director Mary Njoroge says the drought has forced people to adopt negative coping mechanisms, which include selling assets and even theft. The country experienced a downpour recently, leading to what experts call ‘green drought’. The rain deceptively greened Lesotho's valley where fields have no crops or vegetables.

The drought is caused by the El Niño weather pattern, which has left more than 100 million people in southern Africa, Asia and Latin America without food.

Over the hour-long Twitter chat, Send a Cow Lesotho’s country director Manthethe Monethi answered questions from various individuals and organisations.

There were some challenges as Manthethe experienced an electricity shortage and was forced to change location shortly before the chat took place and a slow Internet connection in Lesotho meant responses were delayed.

The importance of vegetable growth was a key issue in the conversation. Unlike maize, which usually takes five months from planting to harvest, vegetables grow very quickly.

The same user, Dolen Cymru. a non-profit linking Wales and Lesotho, asked about makeshift dams:

Jim Ackerman challenged Send a Cow by asking:

Joey Brownbill wanted to know if Send a Cow operates like the World Food Programme:

He then wanted to know if that solution is practical:

Help Age South Africa sent the following question:

Another user questioned the severity of the crisis, asking whether it was a ‘‘once-in-a-lifetime’’ or ‘‘once in a few years’’ crisis:

@MrsMoulogo @SendaCow #askLesotho I'd be interested to know how bad is the emergency in context-once in a lifetime, or once every few years?

— Waterloo Foundation (@Waterloo_TWF) February 24, 2016

A Twitter user based in Wales, Cathy Moulogo, wanted to know the benefits of recent downpour:

She then wanted to know what can be done to alleviate hunger:

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