World Bank approves $20 million for social assistance programs
WASHINGTON, December 6, 2016 – Lesotho’s drought response efforts got a boost today following the approval of $20 million in additional financing by the World Bank Group Board of Executive Directors. The added funds will help the Government of Lesotho improve the shock responsive function of its ongoing social assistance programs as parts of its emergency response to the El Nino drought.
The average prices for maize meal and wheat flour remained stable over September and October
Prices for pulses were also stable in October in most districts.
Households are relying more on vegetables from their own production rather than purchasing them.
Food insecurity to worsen as the lean season peaks and ongoing assistance is still below needs
The peak of the lean season has begun a few months earlier than normal and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes will continue in Lesotho throughout the peak period due to below normal off-season incomes, below average wage rates for agricultural labor, as well as high food prices. Very poor and poor households across Lesotho are the most affected.
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Favourable rainfall forecast for 2016/17 cropping season
Cereal production declined significantly in 2016 on account of El Niño-related drought conditions
Maize meal retail prices declined, but still remained above their year-earlier levels
Food security conditions worsen in 2016 reflecting impact of drought, with just under 0.5 million people requiring emergency assistance
Above-average rainfall conditions forecast for 2016/17 cropping season
Targeting is about to be completed in five districts as WFP expands food and cash assistance through the peak of the lean season.
WFP has introduced e-cards on a pilot basis for cash based transfers.
State of Food Insecurity and Vulnerability in the Southern African Development Community
UNICEF and the Ministry of Social Development disbursed the second tranche of the Cash Grant Top-up to approximately 80,000 children (51% were girls) in 26,681 households, providing unconditional emergency support to families with children negatively affected by food insecurity and other drought related deprivations.
UNICEF and World Vision delivered hand-washing facilities to seven health centers in Berea district. The seven health centres have a patient caseload of about 6,700 people.
The average price for maize meal fell by 2 percent in September; wheat flour prices remained stable. Despite the fall, maize prices are still higher than the five-year average and the September 2015 average
Maize meal and wheat flour are more expensive in rural areas than in urban zones.
Prices for pulses were stable in September compared to Augustin most districts
Rain has fallen in parts of Lesotho and some farmers have begun planting. Progress should be monitored.
Large food consumption gaps expected during one of the most severe lean seasons
MASERU – Lesotho is losing 1.9 billion Maloti (US$200 million) a year to the effects of child undernutrition, according to a new, country-specific Cost of Hunger in Africa (COHA) study released today. This amounts to more than 7 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The money is lost through increased healthcare costs, additional burdens on the education system and lower productivity of the workforce.
Low agricultural production has made households more reliant on food purchases; however, high unemployment and low disposable income limit people’s purchasing power.
The Government of Lesotho has revised the guidelines for cash transfer value during the emergency.
The latest mVam report shows that subsidized pulses are out of stock in many rural shops, thus the price of beans slightly increased in August.
Situation in Numbers
310,015 Children affected by drought
64,141 Children under 5 affected by drought
69,000 Vulnerable children in need of social safety nets
679,437 People in need of humanitarian assistance (LVAC)
*All numbers above are from the Rapid Drought Impact Assessment, February 2016 and the LVAC June 2016.
Land preparation and planting activities begin to increase
Lesotho expects to receive above normal rainfall beginning October 2016. Normal to below normal rains are expected in February-March 2017 in the eastern part of the country.
WFP’s latest mVAM report revealed that femaleheaded households are 50 percent more likely to have poor food consumption than those headed by men.
Cereal production is estimated at 30,000 mt, two thirds lower than last year’s below-average level.
Maize production has declined by 61 percent compared to last year.
The unprecedented El Niño-induced drought has resulted in a number of impacts, including water scarcity for human and livestock consumption, crop failure, water-borne disease outbreaks, animal disease outbreaks and malnutrition. The current number of affected people is expected to increase due to related factors such as increasing food prices (which have doubled), reduction in income from agricultural activities and loss of productive assets.
Key Humanitarian Needs
National maize meal prices have fallen by 2 percent, but wheat flour prices are stable
Maize meal and wheat flour are more expensive in rural areas than in urban zones
Pulses were slightly more expensive in August in most districts due to the unavailability of subsidised stock
Low agricultural production has made households more reliant on purchasing food; however, high unemployment and low disposable income are limiting purchasing power
By Mamonehela Masupha, Volunteer, Lesotho Red Cross Society
September marks the start of the cropping season in Lesotho, bringing with it the hope of a new harvest that could ease the food shortage in the country caused by worst drought in over four decades. Consecutive poor harvests since 2014, escalating food prices and the severe drought conditions have left hundreds of thousands of people in need of food.