According to the results of the IPC, around 26% of Lesotho’s population (380,000 people) are facing high food insecurity (IPC Phase 3) and above from July to September 2020 and require urgent humanitarian action. This includes around 33,000 people in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and 350,000 people in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). In the current period, seven districts are classified as Crisis (IPC Phase 3 ) with the exception of Butha-Buthe, Leribe and Berea, where around 560,000 people are classified as Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and require support to maintain their livelihoods.
From October 2020 to March 2021, around 40% of the population (582,000 people) are projected to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse. All 10 districts will likely experience high acute food insecurity with pockets of highly vulnerable populations in Emergency (IPC Phase 4).
Economic decline: The country’s growth projection was revised downwards in May 2020 to -5.1%, for 2020/21 due to the impact of COVID-19.
Drought and below average cereal production: Food production has declined again in 2020 for a third consecutive year.
High food prices: Food prices have increased due to COVID-19 lockdown measures. Prices of maize meal have gone up by an average of 12% and wheat flour by 16% since March 2020.
Impact of COVID-19: South Africa’s lockdown and border closures have caused a severe reduction in remittances, reducing the incomes and purchasing power of remittance-dependent-households.
Recommendations and next steps
Urgent action is required to save lives, reduce food consumption gaps and protect livelihoods of all vulnerable people in the country.
The following response priorities are proposed for the current period:
• I mmediate humanitarian assistance for all households in Crisis or worse (IPC Phase 3) or higher to protect livelihoods and reduce food consumption gaps.
• Provision of agricultural inputs to farming households that cannot afford access to inputs.
• Establishment of a market system that provides opportunities for local producers (e.g. LDF, LCS, humanitarian agencies etc.) to procure from farmers.
• Reduction of food consumption gaps by improving access to food, through appropriate modalities.
• Protection of livelihood assets and production systems through livestock vaccination campaigns and fodder production interventions.
• Promotion of resilience building initiatives, such as climate-smart agriculture.
• Returnee migrants should be prioritized for support to establish alternative livelihoods and should be included in social relief programmes.