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Dry harvest will improve food security outcomes through August

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Lesotho
  • April 2021
Dry harvest will improve food security outcomes through August

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Between April and July, households will be engaged in the main annual harvest. Although official harvest estimates are currently unavailable, key informants report that households expect a better harvest than last year due to the good rains throughout the season. Household food access has improved with the start of the harvest, reducing household dependency on market food purchases as the lean season end, improving food security outcomes to Stressed (IPC Phase 2). As the harvest peaks between May and July, outcomes are expected to improve to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) through August as households redirect income to non-food purchases.

    • Household access to cash income is projected to improve between May and August as households engage in non-agricultural labor opportunities. Currently, households are engaged in harvest labor opportunities, improving in-kind payments for very poor and poor households. Off-season income-earning activities are beginning to seasonally increase as agricultural labor opportunities dwindle. While harvesting is still a priority, households are expected to be engaging in gardening activities soon. However, the risk of frost during the peak of the winter season will likely slow down vegetable production until late July.

    • Although the daily COVID-19 positive test rate has fallen, following regional trends, by April 28, 2021, Lesotho still has 4,463 active cases. According to key informants, the economy is operating and near-normal, improving access to income and food, particularly for urban households. With normalizing conditions in South Africa's labor markets, income from labor migration and remittances is slowly improving. In late March, Lesotho launched its COVID-19 vaccination drive, prioritizing health workers and vulnerable populations, administering 16,000 doses by mid-April.

    • Maize grain supply to local markets is expected to improve with the ongoing harvest. Although prices have been trending above average, maize meal prices are expected to stabilize through the post-harvest period due to access to local harvests. Expectations of a good harvest in South Africa are also likely to lower local maize grain prices. At the local level, own production is expected to improve household access to grains through August along with in-kind payments and trading. Maize meal prices are expected to remain stable through September, driven by the expected good harvest in South Africa.

    Mafeteng, Mohale's Hoek and Quthing. 
    • Below average income due to prolonged economic impacts of COVID-19 restrictions
    • Below average income from remittances and labor migration due to COVID-19 restrictions



    With the start of the main annual harvest, most very poor and poor households are beginning to access food from their production, signaling the end of a longer-than-typical lean season. The anticipated near-average 2021 harvest follows a poor 2020 harvest exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic which significantly reduced household access to income from labor migration and remittances. With increased access to foods from their production, households will reduce their dependency on market purchases of maize meal providing increased spending for non-food needs. For many households, increased access to food from their production and increased income is expected to significantly improve food security outcomes after being dependent on market purchases under constrained incomes significantly longer than typical. As the harvest peaks between May and July, very poor and poor households are expected to have increased access to other basic foodstuffs such as oil, beans, sugar, and non-food needs through in-kind and cash labor payments. The combination of access to harvests from their production, in-kind payments, and income from harvesting labor is expected to significantly improve food access and consumption for very poor and poor households through August. Households are expected to increasingly engage in off-season activities such as construction, self-employment, domestic work, and the brewing of Joala (traditional beer). Household access to income from these activities is expected to trend near normal and better than last year due to increased liquidity in the market. Additionally, household income from crop sales is expected to be greater than last year. The start of household gardening activities in May is also expected to improve household dietary diversity and provide additional income through vegetable sales. Garden harvests are expected to be average due to the good rains that recharged most water bodies used for irrigation; however, there is a risk of frost damage between May and July. Overall, household incomes are expected to significantly improve from April to September, improving their ability to minimize food consumption gaps through market purchases of food and non-food needs.

    The daily case rate has significantly declined, with a seven-day average of one confirmed COVID-19 case by April 28, 2021. However, approximately 4,463 confirmed COVID-19 cases remain active as of April 28, 2020. With the reduction in the daily case rate, "Blue Level" restrictions remain in place. Businesses are operating at near-normal levels, and economic activity is expected to continue to improve through September, barring another lockdown. The increased economic activity is improving income and food access for poor urban households as they re-engage their typical employment and income-earning activities. Following the return to Level One COVID-19 restrictions in South Africa, an increasing number of households in Lesotho have improved access to labor opportunities and remittances from South Africa; however, it will take time to recover to pre-COVID-19 levels. Cross-border economic activity is likely to continue improving, barring an increase in COVID-19 cases triggering a new lockdown or border closures.

    Market food supplies are stable and expected to remain consistent through August (Figure 1). At the local level, own production is expected to improve household access to grains through August along with in-kind payments and trading. The stabilization of staple food prices through the post-harvest period is driven by the local harvest and the anticipated good harvest in South Africa. With the expected increase in household income, household purchasing power is likely to improve through the scenario period. The combination of access to own produced foods, in-kind food payments from harvesting labor, and increased purchasing power is expected to improve food security outcomes through September significantly. As a result, household food security is expected to be Minimal (IPC Phase 1) between May and August though some worst-affected households are still expected to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). As very poor and poor households deplete their food stocks through the winter, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected to emerge by September. 


    Figure 1

    Figure 1.

    Source: FEWS NET based on BOS data

    In remote monitoring, a coordinator typically works from a nearby regional office. Relying on partners for data, the coordinator uses scenario development to conduct analysis and produce monthly reports. As less data may be available, remote monitoring reports may have less detail than those from countries with FEWS NET offices. Learn more about our work here.

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