Lesotho

OCHA Lesotho Humanitarian Situation Report 1 Aug - 1 Sep 2003

Format
Situation Report
Source
Posted
Originally published
SUMMARY
Lesotho is one of the poorest countries in the world. With a per capita income of US$415 (1999), the country is grouped amongst the 49 least developed countries and is ranked 137 out of 175 countries on the UNDP Human Development Index. More than half the population of 2.2 million live below the poverty line out of which 40% are destitute. Lesotho has one of the most unequal income distributions in the world with more than half of all incomes flowing to the richest 10% of the population. Its people continue to suffer from years of periodic drought and the HIV/AIDS epidemic is proving catastrophic, with more than 31% of the population infected. In a country of 2.2 million, the effect of this on Lesotho's social structure, livelihoods and food security is substantial and is likely to worsen over the next five to ten years. International humanitarian agencies still provide, or assist in providing; the vast majority of basic services to the Basotho people, putting continued demands on the limited pool of financial resources. Areas of particular concern regarding funding include the education, health, water and sanitation, and economic recovery sectors. The highest priorities for the remainder of 2003 include containing the spread of HIV/AIDS which is eating the fabric of the Basotho nation at an alarming rate; Increasing the enrolment of children in school, and providing basic services for vulnerable communities, Considerable progress has been made in achieving the goals and objectives of the common humanitarian action plan for 2003, which broadly seeks to improve livelihoods, expand access to basic services, support good governance and economic recovery.

SIGNIFICANT EVENTS

A meeting with Disaster Management Authority, NGO's and World Food Programme was held on the 20th of August 2003. The objectives of the meeting were to discuss progress on orphan registration and the way forward with EMOP 10290, after 5months of drought and no winter rain fall. The Ministry of Agriculture is expected to issue a crop assessment report this week.

The Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Development Project funded by the World Bank was officially launched on Friday, 22nd August 2003 in Mokhotlong, by the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, together with Republic of South Africa (RSA) Minister of Tourism and Environment Affairs. Other dignitaries included the Foreign Affairs Minister, Minister of Trade and Industry, the South African High Commissioner to Lesotho, the UN Resident Coordinator and Deputy Ministers. Lesotho and South Africa will work in partnership managing issues related to natural resources, wild life and flora, and the beauty of the mountain biodiversity conservation, and livelihood management in a sustainable manner to reduce poverty and hunger. Ultimately both local communities will benefit through a viable tourism industry. The ceremony was climaxed by an entertainment from school children of Mokhotlong and neighbouring Republic of South Africa.

A joint WFP/UNICEF/ FAO mission visited Lesotho from 28th to 31st July 2003 to assess opportunities for co-ordinated WFP/UNICEF programming; to improve access to education, development, growth and health of vulnerable children through school based interventions.

OCHA Reports Officer, WFP Information Officer and UNDP's JPO Resource mobilization and Advocacy officer attended a weeks training on Implementing National Humanitarian Information Systems" organized by SAHIMS. The purpose was to strengthen the skills required for the establishment and maintenance of a national humanitarian and disaster information management system.

POLITICS

In the aftermath of the successful general elections in 2002, which resulted in the most representative parliament in the country's history, government is now well settled down to address, some of the basic developmental problems faced by the country. Parliament is meeting regularly and a number of select committees have been established including The Public Accounts Committee and a Select Committee on HIV/AIDS. A new committee has also been established in the Senate on HIV/AIDS. The key political challenge facing the government of Lesotho is the establishment of local government structures with elections expected before March 2004. This will be the first locally established elected council since the 1960's in Lesotho and represent a real opportunity for deepening democracy and improving service delivery. They will provide unique opportunities to address the issues of food insecurity, chronic poverty and HIV/AIDS at local and international levels.

The government introduced VAT (Value Added Tax) on the 1st of July. This is expected to improve revenue-raising capacity, one of the weaknesses in the management of public finances. However the major backdrop to all of these issues is the on going poverty, food insecurity coupled with the HIV/AIDS pandemic, with an infection rate of over 31% and rising, and the fourth highest in the world, and poorest of the four most seriously affected, the Government of Lesotho has committed itself to Scaling Up the Fight Against HIV/AIDS involving all sectors of society. At the opening of the SADEC Summit on HIV/AIDS in July the Prime Minister stated that a child who turned 15 in 20000 has a 75% chance of being HIV positive by the time he/she reaches fifty years.

In order to support governments efforts, the UN expanded Theme group on HIV/AIDS is finalizing the production of a document Scaling Up the Fight Against HIV/AIDS towards an HIV competent society. This was presented to Government in mid-August.

FOOD SECURITY

Due to the prevailing drought (lack of rain fall throughout the winter months (5months) World Food Programme is considering bringing forward the general food distribution scheduled for November which is the usual hunger gap. However, there is a need to determine food needs by constituency. In the meantime, WFP and Disaster Management Authority will prepare guideline notes on the way forward. This includes, the ongoing Food distribution through Health Centers, schools (Orphan and Vulnerable children), followed by a general food distribution to other vulnerable groups including those Orphans and Vulnerable Children not in school. A one-day training will be conducted followed by a targeting exercise per district. Disaster Management Authority will extend an invitation, to all NGO's to undertake food distribution and include National NGO's with local capacity.

WFP, DMA, FAO and NGO will form a Task Force to discuss food security issues, with a matrix developed to determine who is doing what in terms of relief aid, assessments and other issues in Lesotho. According to the Thabatseka District Agricultural Officer, and based on the WFP/FAO assessment of May 2003, the Mashai constituency is the worst affected and worst hit by the winter drought, with food security at house hold level said to be critical.

The District Agriculture Office in Mokhotlong, Thaba Tseka, Quthing and Qacha's Nek districts have set up field experimental stations, for data collection on the Food security situation. This year government will not hand out agricultural subsidies unlike last year.

Disaster Management Authority Warns Against Drought In Lesotho

According to the Lesotho Meteorological Services as of 16 July 2003, Lesotho faces a 'Weather Crisis'. The country has been experiencing a serious drought since April 2003, as a result of prolonged rainfall deficiency and high temperatures. Maseru, for example in April, only received 8.9 millimetres of rain, compared to the long-term average of 57.5 millimetres. The situation was worse in June with almost zero rainfall throughout the country. At a number of places, there has been no rainfall for over 90 days. High temperatures, in addition, enhance soil moisture loss.

The authorities concerned have reported that drought is the single most important factor influencing agricultural productivity, and therefore will adversely affect winter and early summer agriculture. Rainfall during March and April directly relates to water availability from July to October as it determines the levels of underground water storages. The current drought therefore causes very serious problems in the condition of the rangeland as well as in water availability in the next four months, most likely resulting in soil loss through erosion when the rains eventually start.

Dry weather conditions together with high temperatures are expected to continue through August and at least part of September, which will negatively affect the Nation's social and economic activities for coming several months.

From a perspective of the disaster preparedness, the country needs to prepare for the worst, by making the most of the previous drought experiences that set on prior to planting and during the growing season, which can eventually lead to the lower harvest level than average.

HIV/AIDS and the Lesotho Humanitarian Crisis

In response to the ongoing HIV/AIDS pandemic in Lesotho and in recognition of its impact in relation to undermining the coping mechanisms of people to deal with the ongoing vulnerability crisis, UNDP and the other UN Agencies intensified support to the government in order to scale up the fight against HIV/AIDS. A key element of this has been strategic dialogue with government in relation to the establishment of a National HIV/AIDS Commission which will take full responsibility for intensifying efforts at National and local level to defeat the pandemic. The manual, that is being prepared in this regard, called "SCALING UP THE FIGHT AGAINST HIV/AIDS is under discussion by senior planners and Economists within Government and has been presented to The Task Force of Principal Secretaries at a joint UNCT meeting held on the 26th of August, and the Committee of Principal Secretaries on the 29th. This document will be presented to the Committee of Principal Secretaries in the coming week.

There has been a formal approval into the Lesotho submission to the Global Fund on HIV/AIDS and TB, and funding of 8million dollars for two years is, expected shortly.

Lesotho has prepared the UNGASS (United Nations Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS for 2003); however the report has glaring gaps in terms of data on HIV/AIDS.

There has been growing attention on issues of HIV/AIDS and the Humanitarian Crisis as a result of the visit of Secretary Generals Special Envoy, Ambassador Steven Lewis and James Morris. This has resulted in an intensified effort to change programming approaches, as reflected in the revision of the CAP, and focus on HIV/AIDS in the Vulnerability Assessments.

UNDP sponsors HIV/AIDS workshop for Traditional Leaders, as the Upper House of Parliament commits to fight against HIV/AIDS

A workshop on the strategies for Scaling up the Fight Against HIV/AIDS: The Role of the Senate took place at Mohale Lodge from 28th to 29th of July 2003. It targeted Traditional Leaders, and was attended by over 15 Principal Chiefs and appointed members of Senate. The workshop aimed at encouraging them to use their strategic positions and social responsibility to address the impact of AIDS on their wards and communities on the understanding the social and cultural dynamics of the society. This is an important step in engaging all levels of leadership to reverse the impact of the pandemic.

At 31% infection rate, HIV/AIDS in Lesotho requires emergency attention, a scaled up, innovative and radical response, guided by transformational leadership and systems thinking approaches. The participants agreed to participate in the formation and implementation of an innovative strategy to combat the pandemic under the direction of the Senate Select Committee on HIV/AIDS. This committee will lead the efforts of encouraging traditional leaders themselves to get tested against HIV/AIDS. To lead by example. A key resource person, Prince Langa Mavuso (Head of the South African Traditional Leadership Forum against HIV/AIDS) pledged to coordinate the formation of a partnership and prepare a strategy paper for cooperation with local traditional leaders n HIV/AIDS. Following the workshop, awareness campaigns for the traditional leaders, doctors and healers were launched in the three districts of Leribe, Mafeteng, and Maseru. The UN Resident Coordinator Ms. Scholastica Sylvan Kimaryo pledged the support of the United Nations to assist traditional system with programmes to address the pandemic.

The Government of Lesotho is planning on undertaking HIV/AIDS impact studies in both Public and private sector.

Artists join Anti-AIDS road show in Johannesburg

A group of 15 media persons and artists from Lesotho attended a five day workshop on "Arts Media and HIV/AIDS" held in Johannesburg from 11 - 15 August 2003. Organised by the UNDP Bureau for Development Policy (HIV/AIDS group), the objectives of the workshop were to expose artists and media professionals to realities at community level, and nurture the belief that they are change agents in order to encounter and apply tools of transformative thinking as a means of exploring wider options and multiple perspectives for reversing the epidemic. Artists and media selected from Lesotho consisted of those who displayed a commitment to social issues, are recognised and are social commentators. They include journalists scriptwriters and actors, singers, composers, graphic designers and painters.

EMERGENCY RESPONSE

In April 2002 the Government of Lesotho declared a state of Emergency and launched a Famine Relief Appeal for over $137 million. The May 2002 FAO/WFP assessment showed an anticipated cereal gap of 338,000MT of which WFP planned to meet. Approximately 50,000mt for relief food for an estimated 444,800 PEOPLE. Following the September vulnerability Assessment (VAC), the numbers requiring food assistance increased dramatically to 650,000 and was expected to increase again following the December VAC. In addition, through WFP, the Government of Lesotho conducted two general food distributions to 270,000 people mainly casual unemployed workers in addition to expanding its operations from 8 to all 10 districts. This year although harvests were reported to be marginally better than last year, the food insecurity situation is expected not to change significantly hence an appeal by government for emergency food and non food aid is highly likely as indicated by the VAC of June 2003. See 2002/3 Highlights table below.

Domestic Cereal Supply
118,200MT
Consumption
438,900 MT
Commercial Import
288,700MT
Deficit
32,000MT
WFP Pipeline
12,000MT
Balance
20,000MT

The scale of the required emergency and recovery response has stretched the capacity of most stakeholders, especially the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning. This has highlighted the need for further analysis into the emergency response and preparedness and recovery policy and institutional framework of the Government of Lesotho. In response, the government has set up a Task Force chaired by the ministry of Finance and Development Planning and includes representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, and Food Security, Disaster Management Authority, Development Cooperation Ireland, DFID, Save the children UK, FAO, WFP and UNDP.

At a meeting of the Task Force on the 19th of August, on Study of needs for Famine Relief and Agricultural support programme that the Government of Lesotho intends to conduct with support from DFID; the study is expected to evaluate and review the current emergency response, recovery and long term food security, and identify areas for improvement and refinement. The Ministry of Agriculture will update information on Impact of recovery programmes on agricultural production will be updated by the Ministry of Agriculture, and DMA is expected to give an update on the emergency response. Although short-term emergency response and recovery seems more focused than the long-term, developmental approaches to food security, however some inputs from the ongoing PRSP and National Strategy on Food Security are indispensable.

With 44% of the income source from Agriculture in the rural setting the study will also take into account, other income generating activities including an equitable distribution of benefits, The study will address the short term emergency response and recovery and a consideration of longer term food security. A smaller group under the Task Force consisting Ministry of Agriculture, DMA, DFID and Un agencies met on the 21st of August to discuss the road map of activities in line with the revised terms of reference, and the recruitment of international and local consultants. On the budget for the study, DFID standards will be applied to costing for detailed activities and consultants on the basis of the broad estimate.

The study is expected to start on the first of October and end in November 2003.

UN AGENCY ACTIVITIES

UNDP:

UNDP meets with ACBF Researchers on study of HIV/AIDS on Public Sector Capacity.

A meeting between UNDP, key ministries and sectors of government and researchers from the African Capacity Building Foundation took place on the 20th of August. Aimed at guiding the nature of UNDP's interventions in HIV/AIDS core-streaming and policy support to Government. In support of Public Sector Capacity Building, African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) appointed two field researchers to conduct a study on the impact of HIV/AIDS on public sector capacity in Sub-Saharan Africa as part of a series of studies undertaken in a sample of six Sub-Saharan Countries namely; Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The meeting assessed the extent to which HIV/AIDS has affected public service delivery in Lesotho and share current UNDP strategies for the fight against the epidemic.

UNDP is making constant efforts to provide upstream policy and advocacy support to the Government of Lesotho to scale up the fight against the epidemic through governance.

A meeting was held with senior government officials on the strategies for scaling up the fight against HIV/AIDS on the 21st August 2003. A relationship has also been established with the two houses of Parliament through their respective HIV/AIDS Select Committees to develop leadership plans of action against HIV/AIDS with an ultimate intention of using the national leadership in the creation of an HIV/AIDS competent society.

UNDP will receive a copy of the study and use it as a tool to influence the current strategies to core-stream HIV/AIDS into all ministries and sectors including National Vision and PRSP.

The draft of UNDP's 2nd Country Cooperation Framework is currently being revised .

UNDP STAFF TRAINING

A total of 24 staff members from UNDP are to participate in a three-day training on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, at Mohales Lodge. The training starts from the 2nd to the 5th of September.

WFP

During the reporting period a total of 345 MT's of food was distributed to 6,639 house holds representing 33,910 beneficiaries in Lesotho. Shortage of distribution was due to lack of commodities and bad weather conditions.

The country fortification workshop was held from 19th -21st August 03. This was a follow up to the Regional fortification workshop which was held in Johannesburg, earlier in the month.. WFP attended a workshop organized by the district secretary on the 21st and 22nd of August in the distrct of Mafeteng on Integrated Emergency Trainning for Humanitarian and Community Service Providers. The Disrict Secretary, and DMA in the district of Mafeteng, Mohale's Hoek and Quthing wewre briefed on the formation of the Women Relief Commitees for improved targeting and distribution of WFP commodities. The regional Director , Mike Sackett, visited WFP Country Office in Maseru from 7th to 9th August 2003. The country Office is preparing for the visit of Mr.Edwin Gerardo Gutierrez Otega, OPEC Funding Acting Director for Information and Economic Services and ODJ Emergency Coordinator.

School Feeding

WFP is currently feeding 224,491 children (118,980 girls ,105,511 boys) in 1,281 schools. WFP's National School Feeding Programme Officer visited Mokhotlong to evaluate the distribution for the third quarter and start preparation for the 4th quarter distributions, and sensitize schools on the new activities that WFP plans to undertake under the new development project as of Jan 4th 2004. Both the Programme Officer and Clerk visited 7schools in the district of Maseru to assess and monitor school feeding activities, advise on ways of improvement and collate an updated data.

WHO

WHO is supporting the Ministry of Health and the Disaster Management Authority (DMA) to conduct the Health Impact Assessment of HIV/AIDS and Food Security, as a follow up to a visiting mission? Data collection of this assessment is currently in progress and a training was conducted for 40 numerators from the Disaster Management Authority, and 10 supervisors from the Ministry of Health from the 11th to 15th of August, on the preparation of this assessment.

. Following the Prime Ministers declaration of a state of Emergency in April of last year, 22 million Maluti was set aside and WHO supported the Health and Nutrition Assessment in May / June last year. With the preparation of the CAP an assistance of Food and Agricultural nutrients were delivered to beneficiaries. This indicates more of a development oriented situation rather than a response to an emergency. There was also the training of 4 health staff focusing on community health workers to undertake Nutrition Assessment. WHO is currently in the process of creating the Orphans and Vulnerable Children's Task Force?

In 2002, a study on the prevalence of HIV/AIDS was conducted at antenatal clinics in Lesotho and results showed that 23% of pregnant women that attended these clinics were HIV/AIDS Positive. Another study has been conducted this year, and 28% of the women have tested positive; an increase of 5%. The study has been completed and WHO is awaiting comments from the stakeholders.

UNICEF

UNICEF trained 50 participants from the remaining four districts were trained in the 10-day training of trainers on the integrated Training Package. Participants include public health nurses, agriculture extension workers, NGOs, focal points from district AIDS Task Force and Youth and education offices. This brings the total number of trainers to 80 for the whole country. The process has been very well attended and received by participants. To ensure rapid follow up of the training at the periphery, a weeklong work planning exercise is currently underway to identify a schedule for cascading the training to community - based workers and to translate key parts of the modules into Sesotho for these levels.

UNICEF supported the Ministry of Education in convening a five-day National Life skills workshop, targeting curriculum developers; participants included youth, teachers, school proprietors and national curriculum developers. This training is a first step to prepare ground for the forth-coming curriculum reform process, which will be launched with a national curriculum consultation in October.

Orphans and Child headed Households

The orphan registration format is being piloted in one district. Following this the Ministry of Local government should approve it for nation - wide roll out as part of the vital statistics system. The official recognition and accurate record of the numbers of an increasing vulnerable group will facilitate their accessing services. In the meantime, UNICEF is identifying NGO's providing services for orphans and abandoned babies, in collaboration with the Department of Social Welfare of the Ministry of Health and the Civil Registrar's office. A registration of orphans has been conducted countrywide by WFP, DMA and NGO's. And data is presently being collated and the 29th of August being the deadline. In mafeteng there is a shortage of vegetable oil and pulses, thus resulting in distribution of only maize grain to orphans as a take home ration.

FAO

In response to the current situation in Lesotho, FAO intents to intervene by providing seeds and to assist with tillage to the most affected farmers in the southern districts of Mafeteng and Mohale's hoek. Implementing strategies included a close collaboration with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to distribute seeds using a voucher system. In an effort to learn and observe how CRS implements its seed fairs and voucher systems for seed distribution, the FAOR and the National Consultant took a trip to Mpharane in Mohale's hoek where a seed fair was held.

Seed vouchers and fairs represent an innovative approach towards agricultural recovery developed by CRS. Unlike the conventional method of seed relief, whereby donor agencies and government procure seeds and tools for distribution, on the contrary the seed fairs and voucher method empowers affected people to choose seeds that they need within their communities. The method supports the local economy while maintaining traditional seed supply networks. At the Fair, CRS was also training the Government employees and local officials as enumerators to operate the seed fairs and evaluate its effect. The fair can be adopted for Mohales hoek district since CRS is already operating.

FAO would support Government of Lesotho to formulate Food Security Policy.

Recruitment of Emergency Coordinator

During the month of August FAO recruited a national consultant and an international Emergency coordinator and three and two months respectively. They will be responsible for implementing all emergency programmes including identification implementing partners (NGOs).

UNCT:

Following a meeting between the UN Country Team and the Prime Minister, the UN is now in the final stages of completing the Scaling Up document. A meeting was convened between the UNCT and the Task Force of Principal Secretaries on the 26th of August 2003. Four core areas addressed include the social mobilization; core streaming, institutional mechanisms and the public service .The Resident Coordinator Ms. Scholastica Sylvan Kimaryo reviewed the summary version of things agreed upon during previous meetings on the said subject. It is hoped that the document will also enhance the governments role in creating an enabling environment in addressing all HIV/AIDS related issues, and create an opportunity to accelerate transformational change in the Lesotho society seen through a holistic approach. Both the UN and Government will jointly own this document. A copy of the draft document s was presented to the PS's on Thursday the 28th of August for their comments.

Members of the UNCT also held discussions with the Regional Director of WFP Mr Mike Sackett during his visit to Lesotho as part of countries in the Southern Region to advocate and respond to HIV/AIDS, chronic poverty, and erratic weather conditions and in some countries serious governance problems.

Sectoral Activities/ Highlights

Health:

Following the mission to Lesotho of Dr Gebra Mulugeta, and Dr Sean Dysdale , Regional Director of WHO inorder to introduce the Humanitarian Assessment format and iniciate the process thereby supporting Health Impact Assessment of the Humanitarian Crisis charcterisd by HIV/AIDS and Food shortage, the Ministry of Health has conducted its third phase of the Vulnerability Assessment under the support of WFP and WHO, in order t o guage what might be harvested in terms of Summer Cropping, and an outlook in terms of yield in winter cropping. The Health Impact Assesment is expected to be conducted in the next 4 to 6 weeks.

FAO in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture is currently assisting in making a National Policy on Food Security.

Education

World Food programme ha

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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