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.
Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to persist during the lean season
Average prices of all monitored foods decreased or remained stable in July 2016, in part thanks to the government subsidy that reduced the retail prices of maize meal and pulses by 30 percent beginning in May 2016
National average maize meal prices fell by 4 percent in July compared to the previous month
Wheat flour prices dropped by 2-9 percent in the mountain districts of Thaba-Tseka, Mokhotlong, Qacha’s Nek and Quthing, but increased slightly in Leribe, Berea and Mafeteng
By: Mamonehela Masupha, Lesotho Red Cross Society volunteer
Sebongile is pregnant with her second child. Her first, a 17-month-old boy, still cannot walk. She lives alone in an old house in drought-stricken Lesotho, and is not working. Her mother has a job in neighbouring South Africa and comes home to help whenever she can. But for the most part, Sebongile is alone, relying on the generosity of others to cope with the lack of food.
Tzu Chi’s effort to reduce the food shortage situation in Lesotho
In order to reduce the food shortage situation In Lesotho, Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation hold rice distributions to help the impoverished. The distributions took place over the course of five different days during May and July in 2016, with the help of local volunteers and community members. The rice from Taiwan was given to students of two schools as well as residents of four communities. As the residents live far apart from one another, the community aid distributions were held at 14 different points.
Sephareng, Lesotho | AFP | Saturday 8/13/2016 - 03:03 GMT
by Julie JAMMOT
For farmer Mohlakoane Molise, the view of the enormous Katse dam from his smallholding high in the mountains of Lesotho taunts him daily.
His country is suffering through its worst drought in 35 years, but the vast and vital water reserves remain out of reach, destined instead for export to neighbouring South Africa.
IPC analysis conducted from 24 to 30 May 2016 for all 10 districts of Lesotho based on primary data collected by LVAC and partners in May 2016 and secondary data collected from Jan. 2016 onwards. Projected analysis requires an update in October 2016.
KEY FOOD INSECURITY OUTCOMES AS OF MAY 2016
Despite current analysis corresponding to harvest/post-harvest period, 19% of households had poor food consumption, and 45% had borderline food consumption.
Over 60 percent of households in Mokhotlong, Qacha’s Nek and Thaba-Tseka have poor or borderline food consumption.
Fifty percent more households led by women have poor food consumption than those led by men.
A higher proportion (48 percent) of rural households are borrowing or buying food on credit compared to urban areas (30 percent), indicating higher stress on food security in rural areas.
The average price of maize meal decreased by 4.3 percent in June 2016 compared to May 2016.