ACT Appeal Lesotho: Food Crisis Mitigation AFLS-31 (Rev. 2)

Originally published


Appeal Target: US$ 380,928
Balance Requested from ACT Alliance: US$ 0

Geneva, 26 August 2004

Dear Colleagues,

This appeal under the Christian Council of Lesotho (CCL) was first issued in September 2003 with the primary aim to assist over 11,700 people with relief food and another 1,953 families in food security through the provision of seeds and tools. By the end of January 2004 the government, working with the World Food Program, stepped up food relief assistance to cover the 300,000 food insecure people in the country. Also as the response to the appeal was very slow CCL decided to change their assistance strategy and instead focus on assisting 2,500 families in a more comprehensive food security program. Discussions on the shift of program focus took longer than expected due to various reasons including the clarifications on the unspent balance of funds under previous appeal AFLS 21 and the seeking of permission from donors for transfer of this balance to AFLS31. Apparently over US$100,000 was not utilised under the food crisis appeal issued in 2002 due to late receipt of funds. These funds are now to be used under the new proposal for food security in the AFLS-31 appeal. Implementation of the new proposal already started in February 2004 and will now continue until end of June 2005.

Please note that no funding is being requested as this revision is over-funded - this has been brought to the attention of CCL.

This Revision 2 supersedes the former revision (1) issued on 25 June 2004

Project Completion Date: 30 June 2005

Summary of Appeal Targets, Pledges/Contributions Received and Balance Requested

Total Appeal Target(s)
Funds available:
Balance Requested from ACT Alliance
- 65,934

Please kindly send your contributions to the following ACT bank account:

Account Number - 240-432629.60A (USD)
Account Name: ACT - Action by Churches Together
8, rue du Rhône
P.O. Box 2600
1211 Geneva 4
Swift address: UBSW CHZH12A

Please also inform the Finance Officer Jessie Kgoroeadira (direct tel. +4122/791.60.38, e-mail address jkg@act-intl.org) of all pledges/contributions and transfers, including funds sent direct to the implementers, now that the Pledge Form is no longer attached to the Appeal.

We would appreciate being informed of any intent to submit applications for EU, USAID and/or other back donor funding and the subsequent results. We thank you in advance for your kind cooperation.

ACT Web Site address: www.act-intl.org

Jessie Kgoroeadira
Acting Director, ACT CO

ACT is a worldwide network of churches and related agencies meeting human need through coordinated emergency response.

The ACT Coordinating Office is based with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Switzerland.


  • Christian Council of Lesotho (CCL) Integrated Rural Development Programme & Integrated Food Security Programme


The Christian Council of Lesotho is an ecumenical body, a fellowship of churches and organisations that have been involved, amongst other things, in drought relief operations within Lesotho. It has also been involved in the repatriation of refugees to South Africa and also facilitated the resettlement of Basotho political returnees.

At present five churches are full time members while one organisation is an associate member. Its members have been facilitating training in disaster management, though some re-training will be necessary. The regional structures - the eyes and ears of the Council - are facilitating development at the local level. Apart from the member churches and organisations the Council has been able to partner with the Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (LCN), the Disaster Management Authority (DMA) and the United Nations System.


Background Information.

The Christian Council of Lesotho (CCL) has been involved in promoting community development in the Southern Mountain districts of Qacha's nek and Quthing. The Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP) which is the programme dealing with communities is in the fourth year of its phase. Since its inception, communities have been assisted in production of vegetables; cereals; fruits and agro-forestry. They have, however, progressed slowly in food security due to the area being prone to droughts and environmental degradation.

In recent years, droughts occurred at alarming rates to an extent that in April 2002, the Prime Minister declared that Lesotho had a food crisis like other countries in the southern African region. Upon hearing this, the Christian Council of Lesotho, in close collaboration with its member churches and agencies proposed to intervene. This intervention was in the form of food for work in the areas where the Integrated Rural Development programme was being implemented. Approximately 1,823 households were fed, each household with a breadbasket containing 50kg maize-meal, 2 litres of vegetable oil and 5kg of pulses from November 2002 to May 2003. Supplementary feeding started in May 2002 up to September 2003 where under-fives were given 7kg of food supplement made out of protein and mineral enriched porridge (over 1,900 households). This food assistance effectively averted a possible starvation situation in many cases. The Christian Council of Lesotho, through the Integrated Rural Development Programme, wishes to continue assisting these people through rehabilitation in the form of food security programmes.

From January 2004, the Council plans to support communities of Seforong and Sekake in areas of food security, sustainability and environment through extension training and support, as well as HIV\AIDS awareness. Homestead gardening has been the activity that IRDP communities most enjoy and appreciate, therefore, CCL will use this activity as a vehicle to assist the vulnerable members of communities that are categorised under the chronically ill and orphans under relief programme.

Current situation

Lesotho continues to face difficult times in terms of drought and its interpretation by relevant bodies monitoring the situation. For instance, an assessment carried out by a special mission of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation stated that the year 2003 had seen higher national food production than the previous year in that the cereal production was 60% higher than the 5 year average. Although this statement may be true it does not give a true picture of the actual situation on the ground. The Senqu river valley, for example, shows that most farming families are poverty stricken due to erratic rainfall patterns in the area. It is the farmers in the northern regions of the country who normally produce most of the cereal production in Lesotho. Many people in the Senqu River are still without sufficient cereal grains, as cereal production has not improved from the previous year. The main problems that have surfaced during the planting season have been drought and inadequate farm inputs such as seeds and farming tools. This situation resulted in reduced food production and cash crops, insufficient fodder for livestock, rising food prices and a weakened community economy. The United Nations World Food Programme has again warned that Lesotho is in a precarious situation, it requires 19,000 tonnes of food aid to feed 322,000 facing severe hunger over the next six months in 2004. The report further states that this severe condition started in April 2003 and is expected to continue.

Agriculture production in Lesotho remains one of the challenges to the food security situation and as such, poses a serious threat to human development efforts unless it is attended to. One of the problems is where to start as some of the problems are man-made and others are related to natural causes. The Government of Lesotho has hired and deployed extension workers around villages to provide services to those farmers that need farming advice. However, these extension officers are often working under very poor conditions and are not provided with resources to do their work in an effective and efficient manner. It is therefore important that transformation starts with community-based staff, particularly those of Extension Officers on the ground and those that are in the training and management of community empowerment. Extension Officers in this field need to be equipped with measures that will ensure that they are ready and able to anticipate, and take precautionary measures against an imminent threat; to respond and cope with the effects of poverty by organising and implementing timely and effective food security programmes and other appropriate activities that will alleviate poverty. The Christian Council of Lesotho is well prepared to work with the communities on poverty alleviation, as they have strong extension services that have been developed over the years. They also co-ordinate and share ideas with other NGOs and partners such as Christian Aid and EED. Furthermore, they have good interaction and credibility with the communities themselves.

Another major factor is the HIV\AIDS pandemic which now stands with prevalence rates of over 30%. HIV\AIDS impacts negatively on livelihoods as many of the people who depended on agriculture become sick and agriculture production declines. The vulnerability to food insecurity is caused by lack of labour due to chronically ill people in the labour market. It is estimated that there are over 70,000 orphans in Lesotho whose parents have died of an AIDS related illness. According to the Disaster Management Authority (DMA) these affected households will fall under the category of the chronically sick for targeting of assistance. (In Lesotho an orphan is defined as a person younger than 18 years who has lost one or both parents). In Quthing and Qacha's nek the DMA estimates that there are about 14,000 orphans.

It has now been established that people who are vulnerable to sustained hunger and malnutrition are more susceptible to the ravages of HIV\AIDS, while households that lose care-givers and breadwinners to HIV\AIDS are more susceptible to food shortages. The HIV\AIDS impact on food production also contributes to the drastic rise in the cost of food resulting from domestic and regional food shortages. In Lesotho anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) are beyond the means of many Basotho. The HIV\AIDS factor is also being complicated by the gender injustices prevalent in the rural areas. Sexual abuse against young girls and woman is rife as women depend economically on men and this results in a vicious cycle of re - infection. The inheritance traditions also make it difficult for women and young girls to inherit land, which they could use productively for agriculture when husbands are sick or dead, or both parents are dead.

During the evaluation of 27 to 30 July 2003 it was recommended that the CCL target the most vulnerable households, particularly the chronically sick and child headed households because they have no coping mechanisms.

Location of the project

The project will be based at Ha - Sekake, within the Integrated Rural Development Project. Sekake is 350 km south east of the capital Maseru and is bordered by the South African province of the Eastern Cape and Kwazulu- Natal. The area is divided into six clusters by the IRDP for administration purposes. There are more than 200 hamlets scattered around the six clusters, however, the programme will start with four clusters that will comprise Qhoali plateau; Tebellong plateau, Sekake, and Whitehill. The area is chosen because it comprises the traditional area of the IRDP and as a result the programme will benefit from expertise from the ongoing agriculture activities. The area lies along the Senqu river valley and is home to approximately 12,500 people. It is commonly described as the most poverty stricken area in Lesotho.

The plan is to start where assistance is needed most and gradually expand to other areas within the same vicinity. The Christian Council has some of its member churches based in this area: the Anglican Church, Lesotho Evangelical Church and the Methodist of Southern Africa. These Churches have been involved in the identification of the most vulnerable people in the community.


Goal: The goal is to furnish the most vulnerable members of the communities with the means to fight poverty through facilitation of food security programmes, improved nutritional status and protection of human rights and dignity.


  • To conduct a nutritional survey to ascertain the nutritional status of the area.

  • To promote and encourage homestead gardening among the 2,500 households of the most vulnerable members of the community.

  • To facilitate and foster food security by providing garden seeds, implements and an extension programme to 2,500 most vulnerable members of the community.

  • To train and facilitate better farming practises to 2,500 vulnerable members of the communities as well as provision of refresher courses to extension staff.

  • To conduct a water survey in 50% of the villages to ascertain the levels of mini-irrigation and establish 20 pioneer mini-irrigation points for homestead gardening.

  • To continue on-going research on 40% of agricultural activities by comparing areas, monitoring crops and facilitating open day seminars.


2,500 vulnerable households in communities in Qhoali plateau; Tebellong plateau, Sekake, and Whitehill.



Farmers and communities have for a long time identified lack of water as a drawback to improving food production because their area has, over recent years, been prone to drought and erratic rainfall patterns. The traditional farming that depended on rainfall is no longer profitable. However, the use of gravity fed water systems by IRDP has helped a lot of farmers in this regard. Therefore, the plan is to encourage people under the relief programme to participate in this activity. Some communities will receive special training in irrigation techniques which should improve food production considerably.


The farming community is currently attempting to produce food in soil that is clearly degraded to such an extent that it is more or less useless. This is a serious situation in that, by allowing such soil to be under constant pressure of exploitation by farmers, there will be a desertification problem, which will render the whole area no longer fit for farming. Water control canals, damming of waters that run across the fields, diversion furrows and swamp protection will have to be encouraged so that the soil retains its fertility. A sound base for production of food should be facilitated.


The introduction of food that is manufactured in factories, packaged and delivered to these rural areas has contributed to polluting the area. Poor farming practices coupled with fires on pasture land have also increased the destruction of a mountain environment that was both beautiful and productive. It is planned to encourage activities such as range protection, planting of trees and reseeding of pastures alongside any development activities. The careful implementation of these activities will bring back the beauty of the mountain areas and reduce food shortages because the soil will once again be productive.

Farmers are not necessarily farming according to "good practice". Most have inherited their farms and may not have any knowledge of good farming methods. Some have had training through apprenticeship on farms many years ago and need to be trained in more modern practices. The changing of the weather and depletion of nutrients in the soil demands that new water saving techniques and nutrient replenishing methods need to be introduced. Participatory methods of inculcating good farming practices will be applied. Excursions to the "ideal farm" will be organised and open-day seminars will be held to introduce the new and more effective ways of farming and protecting the environment.

Awareness campaigns will be organised with clear and precise messages that will encourage people to be aware of their environment and its importance to food security.


Awareness raising campaigns will be organised to increase awareness of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, ways of infection and means of preventing infection.


The rural communities often need assistance in obtaining that which is their due. For example, the Government Social Welfare Department or other ministries do not always provide the assistance they should to the individual. CCL aims to advocate better living standards for the rural community and improved service delivery. CCL sees itself as brokering for those people who are unable to insist on their rights from government structures. CCL aims to build the community's and individuals capacity to deal with everyday advocacy issues. Gender rights and the rights of PLWAs will also be advocated.

Needs assessment: A recent survey was conducted to establish how many people fall under category of chronically ill and child headed households, and their means of survival. A total of 515 households were visited and interviewed. A total 1,668 orphans and 140 chronically ill people were discovered. The study revealed that people go hungry because their fields do not yield sufficient produce due to drought and poor soil conditions. Means of survival are diminishing every day to such an extent that many have to go outside the village in search of food. Most people live in extended families and those who have to provide the food bear a heavy burden.

The most commonly produced crops include wheat, maize, peas, beans, alfalfa and lentils. Vegetables are also grown in gardens and they include cabbage, spinach, beetroot, carrots and turnips. The study indicated that vegetables are a source of nutritive food as they are used as relishes to go with maize meal or bread. However, production of vegetables has diminished due to lack of rain and poor soil.

The study coincided with the evaluation of the under five's research that was conducted through interviews with 827 respondents. The interviews revealed that although children were fed, all indictors show signs of a poor state of nutrition, suggesting that the nutritional status of children in general is not good.

Community Participation: Community participation will be encouraged in all levels of the programme. The cluster representatives and village development councils will be involved in identifying the vulnerable groups in their communities. The chief will ensure that the established lists of beneficiaries are verified. The clustering of villages according to their village administrative areas as in the IRDP set up will be used.

Some members of community will be trained to undertake agricultural support activities such as seed banks. And those that are inclined to deal with health issues will also be trained to take care of the sick members of the community. Those members able to work will be attached to "lead" farmers for guidance in gardening. Communities will also be encouraged to participate in fora that will enable them to share information as far as their development activities are concerned. Communities will also be encouraged to document knowledge that exists amongst them relating to traditional farming methods including pest control. They should view this as a forum of learning and sharing of experience.


The activities identified by communities to be the core of their development efforts and to be carried out under the programme of food security are as follows:


  • The programme will start its activities by procuring stocks of seeds, tools and implements. Each house will receive: 1kg bean seed for the low lying areas, 1kg lentils for the high altitude areas, 1 spade, 1 fork 1 watering can.

  • For the month of August: 1 peach tree seedling, 1 apple tree seedling for high altitude, 1 apricot and grape tree. One ream of polyurethane plastic tubing for pots and 500g seeds for agro-forestry will also be supplied.

  • For the month of September: 500g spinach, 500g carrots, 500g tomatoes, 500g pumpkins, 10 kg wheat seed for higher altitude, 10 kg maize seed for low lying areas, 10kg sorghum for the semi-arid areas.

  • There will be additional seeds such as green peppers; garlic; leek; herbs, paprika and chilly that will be procured for special use by people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWA's). The seed package will be distributed by Extension Officers who will also provide support in terms of how best to plant the seeds.


The programme will involve members of the community that have been participating in the gardening and seedling production in the IRDP. These farmers will be encouraged to plant more seedlings so that the programme may procure seeds from them. The other incentive is that there will be a group of vulnerable people that will be attached to a particular farmer for guidance. Such farmers will be rewarded for stewardship by the provision of seeds that he/she requires for the planting season. The programme will ensure that production of seeds, vegetables, and seedlings find market outlets if production exceeds demands. There will also be a group of farmers that will be selected for seed multiplication. These farmers will be contracted with the programme to plant their fields for the purpose of seed multiplication. Such farmers will be rewarded with a 50% share of the crop. The engagement of farmers will not be limited to farming with incentives only; there will be a time of sharing of ideas with them so that they may own the programme.


Communities that are involved in the programme will be encouraged to participate in environmental protection. They will be made aware that the soil on which they rely for their livelihood is the most important commodity to take care of. Activities such as tree plantation, gully reclamation, water diversion and range-land reseeding will be promoted. There will be a sharing of responsibilities in that farmers who are producing seedlings will also sell them to the programme. The programme will use those seedlings to replant pasture and to establish plantations. Encouraging the group to be actively involved in environmental protection, will ensure that everybody is involved in community development as other groups are covered under the IRDP activities. This will bring out commitment and sustainability because every member of community will be active and responsible for development.


A nutritional survey will be conducted to establish the level of food shortages in the area. The survey should reveal the poverty distribution patterns, the most severely affected members of community and their coping mechanisms. Advice will be sought and collaboration with other organisations that are at the advanced stage in this field. Organisations such as Sechaba Consultants, CARE, and CROW should be able to assist since they have been involved in conducting such surveys.


A water availability survey will be conducted to establish the yield of springs that have been ear-marked by the community for use in gravity-fed mini-irrigation for gardening purposes. The use of available data from the Rural Water Supply Department of the government will be requested. In addition, CCL will set up their own survey for irrigation purposes. The survey will be conducted in two phases: when spring yields are at their lowest around August, and when the yields are at the highest point around January.


The plan is to introduce sustainable agriculture training, focusing on farmer research practices. The farmer will be empowered to determine his/her goals in the farming cycle and to find solutions to their own problems. The aim is that the farmers will see the project team as facilitators of agriculture research which will lead to exchange of ideas among themselves. The training should be considered as an attempt to guide rather than to dictate.

There will be two levels of farmer training - the first will be geared towards vulnerable members of the community. The second training will be geared towards activities that will integrate traditional farmers with the vulnerable groups. Each Extension Officer will have to cover the following topics:

  • Farmer based training including manure experiment research, farmer seminars. Subjects should include land use planning, cereal and perishables storage and food processing, mobile veterinary clinics and milling technology. Farmers should be participative in building the syllabus for the training.

  • Household food security and nutrition - technical training for extension staff will be provided to equip them to advise households on growing nutritious food crops and raising livestock using traditional methods. This should include appropriate technology that is usually found in the area, with regard to fencing of homesteads and gardening.

  • Household energy - extension staff should look into possibility of appropriate technology that saves energy such as fuel-efficient stoves, solar cookers and solar heaters. In addition, the community will be encouraged to plant indigenous trees and shrubs.

  • Environmental protection, communities in the target area should be trained on the importance of protecting their environment as it is a valuable resource to their livelihood and well being. They should also be motivated to re-seed and plant trees on hills and slopes to prevent soil erosion and to increase the water retention capabilities of the soil. Extension staff should be trained on an ecological management system that will replenish soil nutrients, increase water and fodder resources, encourage diversity of agriculture, aqua-culture and recycling of waste.

Farmers should be able to demonstrate their ability to practice the following activities:
  • organic farming.
  • crop rotation in their vegetable gardens.
  • application of mulching materials.
  • winter ploughing and planting.
  • application of kraal manure in their maize fields.
  • application chicken manure in their vegetable gardens.
  • build heap\pit composts in community gardens.
  • plant drought resistant seeds.

Training of Extension Workers: The Extension Officers training will cover the following points:
  • Training communities and leaders in management skills.

  • Equipping participants in both the theory and practice of basic agriculture and other technology.

  • Enable those trained to transfer the knowledge and skills to members of communities.

  • Train communities in such a way that they can become independent.

Farmer Led Agriculture Research - Farmer schools are groups of farmers that come together each week of the crop production season to study their field and develop improved management recommendations.

Principles for Effective Farmer Field Training

  • Selection of farmer trainers, who are given ten-day courses to enable them lead farmer field training.

  • Hold weekly meetings of groups of 15 to 30 farmers facilitated by farmer trainers. These groups study production fields in sessions lasting approximately four hours. Sub-groups of about five farmers study an individual field, discuss, observe and analyse management options. Sub groups later report back to the full group, which develops management recommendations and plans simple experiments.

  • Using farmer trainers as facilitators, not lecturers - emphasises self-learning. An external extension agent may attend school sessions, but stays in the background and ideally does and says little during training sessions.

  • Training farmer trainers in facilitating group analysis and self - learning, technical principles that form the basis of analysis and problem solving. The training must correspond to the level of education of the participating farmers and the farmer trainer.

  • Farmer field training is based on adult learning and educational principles and develops skills and analytical approaches that make the farmer field training groups partners for adaptive research programs.

Farmer Demand-Driven Extension: Farmer-demand extension focuses on moving from a situation where farmers are recipients of extension campaigns planned for them by the programme to where farmers themselves decide on the services they want. Bringing about this means that farmers must be empowered to do their own planning and identification of service needs. Farmers will then negotiate their service needs with public and private service providers. It means that all stakeholders must examine the consequences for supporting the emergence of demand driven extension for their own organisations. Farmers or service providers that emerge from the process undertake farmer demand driven extension on the strict understanding that it is "self-help" on stake-holder's own resources and within their current jobs.

HIV/AIDS: Training of extension workers and communities will also focus on the disease and campaign for better health care for people living with HIV/AIDS. The aim will be to train Extension Workers to understand that HIV/AIDS hurts most because of the stigma and the possibility of rejection and discrimination, misunderstanding and loss of trust that HIV positive people have to deal with.

Training will be based on the following:

  • People living with HIV/AIDS (PLWAs) are supported so that they can be involved in all the activities concerning food security as well as of IRDP, as essential resource persons especially in areas of work relating to education, training, prevention, advocacy and programme development.

  • Current and accurate information on HIV/AIDS will be gathered and a system developed to ensure that the information is freely available to all Extension Officers and cluster communities.

  • Various projects and educational programmes will be developed to increase awareness and educate people about HIV/AIDS. Traditional leaders, Chiefs, the elderly, youths and other community members will be involved in this. Special emphasis will be laid on gender issues, including: the empowerment of women and girls, the necessity of men to change their behaviour and take responsibility for containing the spread of HIV/AIDS. The training will point out the linkages between poverty and the spread of HIV/AIDS exposing issues such as social injustices and inequality, loss of life, etc which occurs due to ignorance about the disease.


Communities in the rural areas have lived over the centuries on subsistence farming which is sufficient as long as farming methods are sustainable and rainfall good. However, knowledge about food - the nutritional aspects and preparation of food to retain the beneficial elements is lacking.

CCL plans to educate the people on nutrition including food processing, storage and cooking. The importance of food groups (carbohydrates, vitamins, protein and minerals.) and energy givers and immune boosters will be stressed. This information is important especially for chronically sick people.

The links between nutrition and disease will be elaborated and how important it is to eat "well" to achieve and maintain good health. For people living with AIDS there will be a campaign to deliver the message that with proper nutrition, care and support they can optimise their immunity and reduce nutritional deficiency thereby maintaining good health.

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