Lesotho: Food Insecurity - Emergency appeal n°MDRSL004 operation update No. 3

Appeal History:

  • This Emergency Appeal was launched on 22 January 2016 for CHF 664,073 Swiss francs to enable the IFRC to support the Lesotho Red Cross Society (LRCS) to respond to the food security needs of 4,500 drought affected beneficiaries for six months. The strategy entails the immediate provision of food assistance (carried out through cash transfer programming) and strengthening community livelihoods in three districts of Mafeteng, Thaba Tseka and Qacha’s Nek to allow vulnerable households to meet their basic food needs.

  • Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF): CHF 84,369 was initially allocated from the Federation’s DREF to support the National Society to start up the operations by meeting immediate needs of affected people.

  • Operations Update no. 1 was issued on 8 February 2016.

  • Operations Update no.2 was issued on 26 February 2016.

  • The current Operations Update no.3, issued on 6 April 2016, follows a change of strategy (<1% budget change) explained below.

IFRC, on behalf of Lesotho Red Cross express sincere thanks to various donors to support this Emergency Appeal to enable Lesotho RC meet the needs of vulnerable people in affected communities.

Summary: Lesotho last had normal rainfall between April and May 2015. This made it difficult for Basotho (the Lesotho people) to be engaged in winter ploughing due to scarce moisture. The first rains were expected between August, September, October and November, but it is reported that vegetation conditions experienced in November 2015 were at their lowest in 15 years. According to the December 2015 FEWSNET1 report the strong El Niño event enhanced probabilities of below-normal rainfall and continued dry conditions in Southern Africa.
Lesotho`s onset of rains was delayed by 30-40 days affecting land preparation and other agricultural activities. Of the few people who managed to plant their fields, the crops are dying off due to this prolonged dry spell. These conditions have also negatively affected livestock conditions due to poor pastures and limited availability of water.
The prolonged dry spells and drought not only affected maize production, but other crops such as sorghum, beans, peas and wheat have also been affected, and harvests are down and low yields are therefore expected.
The drought situation resulted in a 51% cereal deficit of the required 247,000 metric tonnes. Out of 10 districts the five hard to reach districts in Lesotho are the most affected including Qacha’s Nek, Mokhotlong, Thaba Tseka, Quthing and Mafeteng. Table 1 below illustrates the decline in cereal production in the most affected districts, however some districts reported an increase in output on some cereals compared to the previous production year (2013/14) i.e. Leribe (Maize 4% and Wheat 179%) and Quthing (Wheat 81%).