Lesotho Vulnerability Assessment Committee, Intervention Modality Selection (2016)


Executive Summary

In early 2016 DMA requested LVAC to conduct a market assessment to determine the functionality of food market systems (for maize, pulses and cooking oil) in Lesotho. The market assessment was undertaken to analyze Lesotho’s food market environment, structure and network. The assessment shed light on financial and physical infrastructure, trader typology, trader limitations and constraints to trade as well as covering market functionality throughout different seasons in a year.

The findings from the market assessment had as aim to inform the design and implementation of humanitarian assistance programmes in the country in 2016-17. A participatory process of detailed data analysis and discussion through an eight-day long, open-door forum ensured the findings from the market assessment guided LVAC practitioners in selecting the most appropriate intervention modality by market and council. This report outlines the districts and councils where LVAC agreed markets to be suitable for cash, vouchers and/or in-kind interventions and the reasons behind the selection.
The key variables considered by LVAC for the CBT modality selection process were: the capacity of markets to supply an adequate amount of food basket commodities against requirements; road quality; strength of mobile network; number of traders and their trade volume size; traders’ ability to absorb additional demand; food price stability over time; historical trade trends; previous intervention modality experience by council, security concerns and contextual factors.

The LVAC TWG has proposed a set of recommendations to be followed-up on by the Lesotho inter-agency cash and voucher working group. These recommendations aim to: 1) support CBT interventions during 2016-17; 2) improve market monitoring approaches; and 3) better prepare LVAC for future market assessments it plans to undertake. Specifically the recommendations are:

  • The Ministry of Agriculture to complete the 2015-16 national crop forecast assessment.

  • Sensitize traders on the upcoming intervention well in advance of a CBT intervention allowing the traders enough time to buy the required food volumes to last at least one month of locals’ food need requirements.

  • Due to the rapidly rising food prices, ensure verification of the beneficiary transfer value is conducted on a monthly basis. This is particularly important since lack of capital was seen as a major constraint to consumers.

  • Verify with local traders on their preferred intervention modality. A number of traders mentioned that competition between traders is very strong in Lesotho. Often they mentioned preferring vouchers to cash distributions as this would guarantee consumers would purchase food from them rather than a competitor, hereby reducing the trader’s exposure to risk.

  • Lesotho has a high number of foreign traders. These traders tend to have above average access to capital when compared to their local counterparts and therefore could seem to be a good option for CBT interventions. However, unwarranted community friction, especially in rural areas where there are fewer traders, may occur as a result of an intervention modality that favours foreign traders over local traders due to their higher trade capacity. Food assistance interventions such as CBTs which aim to use local markets should ensure as much as possible equal opportunities for local traders to benefit from the intervention as foreign traders would.

  • Monitoring of food volumes, cash distributions and food prices is a must before, during and after a CBT intervention has taken place. A reliable, accurate and consistent monitoring framework is to be set up for monitoring prices especially in markets where a CBT intervention is planned.

  • Be ready to switch intervention modality in a short space of time (within a month). This will be particularly important if markets start experiencing abnormal price spikes for the time of year.

  • If considering using e-money, ensure good mobile network availability in the region and free solar charging points are set-up for beneficiaries to charge their phones with.

  • Setup an inter-agency CBT working group (CBTWG) in Lesotho to share information on ongoing interventions, to ensure interventions are harmonized and for it to act as a platform where issues, support and suggestions can be provided/raised.

  • Future LVAC assessments are to ask surveyed households on the market/s they access for their daily/weekly food needs. This will ensure that the markets assessed by the market assessment are clearly identified as the ones used by the most vulnerable populations.

  • Use LVAC’s intervention modality findings from this report to guide LVAC’s CBT intervention modality. Out of 62 councils assessed, 27 (44 per cent) are recommended for cash, 26 (42 per cent) for vouchers, 8 (13 per cent) for in-kind and one (approximately 1 per cent) for both in-kind as well as cash.

  • A nutrition survey is recommended to enable a more in-depth understanding of the malnutrition situation in Lesotho, especially acute malnutrition.