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Stable food prices contribute to projected Minimal acute food insecurity outcomes

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Lesotho
  • August 2013
Stable food prices contribute to projected Minimal acute food insecurity outcomes

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through December 2013
  • Key Messages
    • The majority of rural households in the country are currently facing Minimal acute food insecurity outcomes (IPC Phase 1). Households are meeting their basic food needs through adequately stocked markets and other food outlets, and access to own produced foods. 

    • Stable food prices, especially maize meal, continue to facilitate access to adequate food for the market dependent poorer households. In addition, ongoing government and partner programs are also contributing to adequate food access for the chronically vulnerable households.  

    • The Lesotho Vulnerability Assessment Committee (LVAC) annual assessment conducted between May and June identified about 223,000 people (15 percent of the rural population) who are at risk of acute food insecurity between October 2013 and February 2014. However, the final report of this assessment is yet to be released.

    Projected Outlook through December 2013

    Improved crop growing conditions over most parts of the country contributed to better harvests for the 2013/14 consumption period. As a result, in mid-July the estimated population at risk of food insecurity dropped significantly compared to the same time last year. The LVAC estimate of 223,055 people at risk of acute food insecurity is 69 and 50 percent below last year and the five year average, respectively (Figure 2). The improved food supplies, availability of income generating opportunities, pro-poor government policies, and humanitarian assistance programs continue to engender food security of poorer households by enabling them to access enough food to meet their survival and livelihood protection needs. In addition to improved production during the 2012/13 growing season, the LVAC analysis and results show increased income from sheep/goats and wool/mohair and increased casual labor opportunities as well as other income generating activities such as livestock herding and beer brewing.

    The LVAC results are in line with findings from the USAID Food for Peace led rapid food security assessment conducted in April/ May in the Mountains and Senqu River Valley livelihood zones. This assessment found that the 2012/13 cereal harvest would be much better than the previous 2011/2012 harvest, and that most poor rural households will be able to achieve near normal food supplies from their own production. In addition, the World Food Program (WFP) and other humanitarian agencies are basing their 2013/14 programming decisions on these LVAC findings.

    Maize meal prices have remained generally stable throughout the country.  This price stability is of significance to food security outcomes in Lesotho given that the country is structurally maize deficit, and imports over 70 percent of its maize requirements. Imported and locally milled maize meal prices have remained stable despite the slight increases recorded in the fuel prices between June and July. According to the Petroleum Fund, petrol and diesel prices have both increased by 7 percent, while paraffin prices have remained unchanged. The year-on-year (June) headline inflation rate stood at 4.7 percent, while the food inflation rate over the same period stands at 5.7 percent. These rates are relatively stable and comparable to June 2013 inflation rates in South Africa – Lesotho’s major source of food imports-- which were at 5.5 and 6.8 percent respectively.

    Humanitarian assistance distributed by WFP and partners reached about 356,460 people in July 2013, distributing over 2,100 MT of food. WFP’s Emergency Operation (EMOP 200499) which began in October 2012, in response to food insecurity during the 2012/13 consumption period, is still on-going and has been extended to December 2013. In July the program reached 104,370 people through its Targeted Vulnerable Group Feeding scheme, while a further 54,470 benefitted from the cash/food for assets program.  An estimated 72,620 individuals participated in supplementary feeding programs and early child care and development programming; additionally, school meals reached approximately 125,000 beneficiaries.

    Based on the LVAC results FEWS NET projects that Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes will be maintained through December throughout the country.  Results of the Acute Food Insecurity Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) workshop held in June 2013 are being finalized and will provide further indication of 2013/14 food insecurity levels. In addition, the LVAC will update the current analysis including assumptions underlying their outcome analysis in October.

    This outlook would change if there is instability of staple food prices and the local currency (Maluti).  Given the tight regional maize grain supplies and Lesotho’s reliance on imported South African food commodities, staple food prices are likely to increase once the lean season begins. Sharp increases in staple food prices are likely going to result in more people facing livelihood protection deficits from October/ November. However, ongoing humanitarian assistance and nutrition programs will contribute to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes across the country.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Populations at risk of food insecurity – 2008/9 to 2013/14 consumption periods.

    Figure 2

    Populations at risk of food insecurity – 2008/9 to 2013/14 consumption periods.

    Source: Lesotho Vulnerability Assessment Committee

    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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