The 2019/20 rainfall season has started poorly in Lesotho. Most areas of Lesotho have received very little rainfall, and the start of season is estimated to be delayed by 10-30 days. In mountainous areas, the combination of low levels of residual moisture from snowfall and the poor start of season have resulted in limited planting, which typically starts in October. Short-term and seasonal forecasts suggest rainfall will likely continue to be below average over Lesotho.
Abnormal dryness in Lesotho is affecting availability of pasture and water, as well as livestock body conditions. Should poor rainfall performance persist, livestock body conditions will likely remain poor and result in below-average prices. As a result, household income from the sale of livestock will likely be lower than normal.
Markets in Lesotho remain well stocked by supplies from South Africa and maize meal prices have been generally stable in Lesotho. For example, maize meal prices in Maseru have remained largely unchanged since May 2019. However, maize meal prices typically increase during the lean season as supply is seasonally low and demand reaches seasonal highs.
The poor start of season is also limiting household access to cash and in-kind income from agricultural labor demand that begins to increase in November. Households continue to depend on the market purchases to access food, although purchasing power is atypically low. As a result, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to continue through April 2020. Slight improvements will likely begin in May as harvests get underway.