Lesotho: Food Insecurity - Emergency appeal n° MDRLS003 final report


Period covered by this report: 10 December 2012 to 31 July 2013

Appeal target (current): CHF 1,119,000

Appeal coverage: 34%

Appeal history:

• This Emergency Appeal was initially launched on 15 October, 2012 for CHF 1,119,000 for 9 months to assist 8,000 beneficiaries (1,600 households).

• CHF 100,000 was allocated from the Federation’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support the national society in responding by delivering assistance.

• Operations Update no. 1 was issued on 31 October, 2012.

• Operations Update no. 2 was issued on 27 November, 2012.

• A six-month Update was issued on 31 May, 2013.


At the launch of this appeal, Lesotho was facing a food insecurity crisis which was affecting 725,215 people. This slow onset disaster became chronic in 2012, when the country experienced above normal rainfall, resulting in residual moisture through the months of May to August, which impacted on crop yield. Lesotho Red Cross Society (LRCS) launched an Emergency Appeal in October 2012 to assist with addressing the prevailing food insecurity situation across the country.

In the original plan, 1,600 households in five districts were to benefit from LRCS interventions through two components: relief distributions of food and non-food items, and food security activities. LRCS reached 1,200 through the first component, and engaged 1,900 in the second component.

The operation targeted disadvantaged groups including women and girls, who are at risk because of their gender; older people; people living with HIV or other diseases and disabilities; children and young people in difficulty, such as orphans. Registration of beneficiaries from the operation extended to households which comprised vulnerable people who were unable to physically work; in these cases, food distributions (including pluses, beans, maize and oil) took place in accordance with Sphere standards.

LRCS activities targeted both field and garden crops, with a focus on food-for-work land rehabilitation and conservation schemes. The conservation activities were identified by the communities as ones which would be of longer-term benefit to the community as a whole. To support the operation, LRCS provided agricultural inputs and associated training, demonstrated food preservation techniques, and convened community-based disaster preparedness activities.

The assistance provided through this Emergency Appeal enabled the targeted community to recover from the food crisis. It allowed some stability so that they started to rebuild their lives and commence on livelihood activities. In this manner, the recovery assistance minimised further damage and loss, contributed to psycho-social support, has gone some way to restoring livelihoods and has enhanced food security for possible future disasters.

Two planned workshops took place. A lessons learned workshop was held in Mafeteng in July 2013. The 15 participants included LRCS project officers, Red Cross volunteers and lead gardeners from the five Districts in Lesotho and Lesotho's Disaster Management Coordinator (LDMC). There was also a food security workshop that was conducted. As a result of under budgeting, an over expenditure was realised on the workshop budget line.

A balance of unspent funds remains. The Swiss RC funding approval was received in April and the programme prioritised to implement this earmarked pledge for the remainder of limited timeframe or the Appeal. Extension of the operation was deemed impractical since the activities being implemented were seasonal (rain fed) in nature, and the operation’s end in July coincided with the start of the dry season. Moreover, Lesotho’s food security situation improved tremendously in the current season (2012/13) according to the VAC report and confirmed by field monitoring activities under this operation. All households supported under the operation had a good harvest, even a surplus to sell. The unspent balance will be returned to the DREF fund..

Lessons learned:

· Food insecurity is in most cases a slow on-set hazard, which was the case in this situation where households slowly depleted their resources until they had little or nothing to consume. The situation was exacerbated by the government's delay in declaring a state of emergency (this declaration was made on the 9 August 2012).The major challenge was the delay in disbursing funds to Lesotho Red Cross Society to commence the land reclamation activities through food-for-work. Once approved, Appeal funds should be disbursed immediately, any delay in releasing funds will only exacerbate the situation.

· The LRCS took into consideration the training of volunteers to carry out the operation in an appropriate manner. To strengthen the training, a series of meetings were convened to remind volunteers, officers and stakeholders of their roles and responsibilities during a disaster period.

· LRCS has offices in ten districts, and should capitalize on the well-trained volunteers (lead gardeners and care facilitators), technical project officers, and divisional secretaries in these districts as well as strengthening the collaboration with other relevant stakeholders within existing structures. These structures will provide stronger management of future livelihood projects and the timely delivery of services by drawing on local staff with knowledge and experience.

· Longer-term livelihood projects should be considered to address the on-going food insecurity situation. Crop and small stock diversification would be appropriate. Consideration of other agricultural opportunities would help to increase the potential for securing enhanced livelihoods.

· In this vein, crop selection and diversification, options for drought tolerant crop varieties and improved seeds resistant to pests and diseases should be prioritized.

· LRCS should continue to educate and inform stakeholders on the mandate of the Red Cross Movement and its Fundamental Principles

· The number of the vulnerable households to be engaged in the food-for-work activities outnumbered available funding therefore these needed to be aligned.

· The area identified for rehabilitation is massive, and the remaining area to be worked is still huge

· Lesotho is experiencing extreme winters that hinders the growth of crops

· There was massive destruction of crops by army worm in some of the operational sites.

An external evaluation of this Emergency Appeal (along with other three food insecurity Emergency Appeals) is being arranged and will be facilitated by the Southern Africa Regional Office.

On behalf of Lesotho Red Cross (LRCS), IFRC would like to thank all partners that contributed to this appeal, including British Red Cross, Japanese Red Cross, Red Cross of Monaco, Swiss Red Cross and Netherlands Red Cross. Thanks are also extended to the volunteers of the LRCS for their commitment.