Funding helps to kick start humanitarian response to drought crisis in Lesotho

from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 24 Aug 2012

United Nations works with Government to respond

24 August 2012 (OCHA ROSA, Johannesburg): In response to a more than 70 per cent reduction in domestic agricultural production in Lesotho that has put more than 725,000 people, over a third of the population, at risk of food insecurity, the United Nations today announced funding of US$6.2 million to respond to the mounting humanitarian crisis. The funds, allocated from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF),will support the Government of Lesotho and the UN in providing immediate emergency relief to this small, land-locked country in Southern Africa during the next few crucial months.

The funding comes after the Prime Minister of Lesotho, Thomas Moatsoahae Thabane, declared the severity and scale of the crisis a national food emergency and requested support from development partners and the international community to Lesotho, which has a population of 1,891,830.

The sharp reduction in agricultural production for 2011/2012, due to a series of flooding, late rains and early frost, has reduced domestic production to only 32 per cent of the average national harvest. This year’s crop failures follow a poor harvest last year that have increased the vulnerability of many of the country’s poorest farmers. In addition, traditionally more productive areas in the lowlands have also performed poorly this season. This, compounded by a sharp increase of 18 per cent in the price of food has put further pressure on households, making it almost impossible for many to meet their minimum food requirements.

In response to the Prime Minister’s request for assistance, the humanitarian community in Lesotho and the UN, in partnership with the Government of Lesotho, have developed a comprehensive response plan that is estimated to require over $20 million in additional funding over the next year. It details plans to provide immediate life-saving assistance as well as longer term investments in agriculture and production.

“It is critical we act quickly to help Lesotho’s most vulnerable families cope with the humanitarian consequences of this national disaster. The UN is committed to work closely with the Government to address both the immediate needs of the poorest, but also invest in the longer term challenges that continue to leave so many people at risk of these types of events,” said acting UN Resident Co-ordinator in Lesotho, Dr.Jacob Mufunda. “We welcome the funding made available through CERF to kick start our emergency response and seek on-going assistance to ensure the long term investments needed can tackle the underlying causes of vulnerability.“

Immediate areas that will be funded by the CERF include:

FAO will work to restore the productive capacity of 6,500 of the affected farming households by promoting climate smart agriculture (i.e. conservation agriculture techniques), diversifying food production means through homestead gardening and providing inputs to vulnerable farming households. The plan is to provide immediate support to farmers so they will be ready in time for the September/October planting season.

WFP will provide food assistance to 14,000 households and UNICEF will provide cash grants for 15,000 of the most vulnerable households, especially child-headed households and the elderly.These households are those including: children below 2 years of age, pregnant and lactating mothers in areas where there is a high incidence of malnutrition and the very poor, i.e.people deprived of land or livestock, orphans, and HIV-affected households.

UNICEF and WHO will support efforts to treat severe acute malnutrition and strengthen nutritional surveillance systems as well as community training to identify and refer malnutrition cases to health centres. WHO will strengthen the disease surveillance system to enable early detection and management of epidemics.

UNFPA will raise awareness on HIV prevention and management of gender-based violence in the context of the food crisis.

CERF is funded by voluntary contributions from Member States, NGOs, regional governments, the private sector and individual donors. Donors have pledged more than $380 million in support of the Fund in 2012, bringing the total amount contributed to CERF since March 2006 to more than $2.8 billion. The biggest donors to CERF in 2012 are: the United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands.

Johannesburg, South Africa
Mr. Ignacio Garcia-Leon, Head of Office, OCHA Regional Office for Southern Africa (OCHA ROSA) email:, tel: +27 82 908 1338
Ms.Noroarisoa Rakotomalala, Regional Disaster Response Advisor, OCHA ROSA email:, tel: +27 82 908 1423
Ms. Yolanda Cowan, Humanitarian Affairs Officer, Desk Officer for Lesotho, OCHA ROSA email:, tel: +27 82 908 1425

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

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