According to the results of the latest IPC Acute Food Insecurity analysis, about 179,000 people (12% of the analyzed population in rural areas of Lesotho) are facing high acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3) in the current period from July to September 2021, and may require humanitarian action to reduce food gaps, protect and restore livelihood and prevent acute malnutrition. All ten analyzed rural districts of the country have been classified in IPC Phase 2 (Stressed) in the current period. From October 2021 to March 2022, around 312,000 people (21% of the analyzed population) are projected to be in IPC Phase 3. Seven of the analyzed districts are projected to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in this period.
Although heavy rains destroyed some crops in January 2021, causing waterlogging in some parts of the country, Lesotho registered an improvement in crop production this year due to the good seasonal rainfall performance, after three consecutive years (2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/20) of poor agricultural production. Crop production is expected to boost the economy to the moderate growth of 2.6%. The increase in crop production also resulted in improved household food access. However, some poorer households across Senqu River Valley and mountain livelihood zones are expected to experience food consumption gaps before the start of the projected period, which is normally the lean season in Lesotho. Prices of food remained higher than both last year’s and the five year average and are expected to remain high in the projected period.
Recommendations & next steps
- Urgent action is required to save lives, reduce food consumption gaps and protect livelihoods of all vulnerable people in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to protect livelihoods and reduce food consumption gaps.
- Provision of agricultural inputs to farming households that cannot afford access to inputs.
- Government to continue with the initiative of local purchase of grains and beans from local producers to promote market opportunities for farmers who have surplus from own produce.
- 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.
- Livelihoods recovery programmes (i.e. agricultural inputs) for populations in Stressed (IPC Phase 2).
- Development of complementarity programmes (i.e. backyard gardening inputs for poor and very poor households).
- Capacity building programmes for populations in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or above.
- Food price subsidy intervention should be prioritized and well targeted.
- The government to continue implementing agricultural inputs subsidies to include the short seasoned varieties, and supply be made on time to facilitate timely planting.
- The National Strategic Resilience framework should be fully operationalized to ensure that households diversify their livelihoods to withstand future shocks.
- Intensify nutrition education with more emphasis on feeding practices inclusive of exclusive and recommended duration of breastfeeding.