Lesotho Key Message Update: Food insecurity expected to improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) during harvesting period, May 2020

Situation Report
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Key Messages

  • The harvesting of maize and other crops is driving food security improvements across much of Lesotho. Well distributed rainfall over the last half of the season improved production prospects, though overall yields are still expected to be below-average. Harvest labor opportunities for poor households are likely to be slightly below average; middle and better off households will have increased incomes in the coming months through crop sales. Dry season vegetable production is expected to increase in June, but slow down over the winter months.

  • From June to August, it is expected that poor households will experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes as local grain supplies improve and household dependency on market purchases of maize meal declines. While poor households likely have access to sufficient food to meet their basic needs, they will not be able to adequately cover essential non-food needs. Marginal food gaps are expected to remain for some very poor households.

  • A week after relaxing COVID-19 control measures on May 6, Lesotho recorded its first confirmed COVID-19 case on May 13. As of May 26, Lesotho has two confirmed COVID-19 cases. According to the Health Ministry, 597 tests have been sent to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) in South Africa for testing. As of May 13, there have been 295 negative results and 301 test results are still pending. The government has not indicated whether control measures will be reinstated.

  • South African borders with Lesotho remain closed except for the movement of goods and cargo. Food imports from South Africa have not been impacted and most markets remain stocked with staple foods. Currently, the flow of remittances from South Africa has slowed due to its lockdown limiting income earning opportunities. Remittances, which contribute roughly 20-40 percent of poor household incomes, are expected to remain below-average for the medium to long term [1]. The food insecure population in Maseru and district centers is expected to be higher than average this year due to the impact of COVID-19 related restrictions that limited access to income.