Reinstation of COVID-19 control measures likely to slow down livelihood recovery
Most households continue to experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes however poor household food security is expected to deteriorate in September as ownproduced food stocks deplete. From October through December, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are anticipated due to food consumption gaps. The lean season is expected to begin in October, two months earlier than normal due to the compounding effects of below-average production, below-average labor wages, and the impacts of COVID-19 restrictions on income-earning opportunities and remittances. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes will likely continue through January 2021 as the lean season peaks.
COVID-19 restrictions continue to affect livelihoods in Lesotho. In response to the rapid increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases between June and August, the government reinstated lockdown measures in late July to curb the spread of the virus. The re-introduction of some of the previous control measures is expected to again reduce the pace of business and reduce income-earning opportunities, particularly for informal traders in urban areas.
There has been a general increase in the price of maize meal across Lesotho. In June, maize meal prices in Maseru were 22 percent above June 2019 prices and 11 percent above the five-year average. The increase in prices is attributed to increased demand due to the below-average local harvest and COVID-19 related supply chain disruptions such as border slow-downs and permit requirements. An increase in staple food prices in Lesotho is reducing the purchasing power of households who will depend entirely on market purchases when their own-produced food stocks run dry.