Completed harvest drives Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes through August
Most of Lesotho is expected to face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes between June and August as the recent above-average harvest significantly improves household food and income access. However, as own-produced food stocks of very poor households deplete through August, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are likely to return around September as households become increasingly market-dependent despite limited incomes. From October 2021 through January 2022, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected for very poor households as demand for market purchases and staple food prices seasonally increase through the lean season.
Since April, the COVID-19 incidence rate has been stable with very low to no new confirmed cases. Currently, there are minimal COVID-19-related restrictions in Lesotho. Many livelihood activities have improved since the lockdown was lifted in March. However, the seven-day rolling average of confirmed COVID-19 cases has increased from one in early June to 16 by June 16, 2021. Additionally, the rapid increase of confirmed cases in South Africa since May 1 poses a risk of another outbreak in Lesotho given the volume of people travelling to and from South Africa. A return of lockdown restrictions will slow economic activity and impact household access to income.
Between December 2020 and April 2021, maize meal prices in Maseru have been gradually increasing, likely driven by high demand during the lean season and a 19 percent increase in maize meal prices in South Africa around January. However, between June and September 2021, maize meal prices in Maseru are expected to stabilize as the local harvest increases and reduces household dependence on market purchases. Additionally, a good harvest in South Africa will maintain the market supply of grains at reasonable prices for local millers in Lesotho.
With the ongoing peak of the winter season, sporadic snowfall has been reported across the country. While near freezing to freezing temperatures can negatively impact pasture and vegetable conditions, the residual moisture from the snow is likely to benefit the start of 2021/2022 agricultural activities in November, particularly for households in the mountains who typically rely on residual snow melt at the start of the agricultural season.