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Stressed food security expected following drop in production and incomes, and high food prices

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Lesotho
  • August 2014
Stressed food security expected following drop in production and incomes, and high food prices

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through December 2014
  • Key Messages
    • Most rural households in the country are currently facing Minimal acute food insecurity outcomes (IPC Phase 1), meeting their basic food needs through purchases at adequately stocked markets and through own-produced foods. 

    • Staple food prices have started to increase in line with seasonal trends. This trend is likely to reduce the purchasing power of poor, market-dependent households, particularly between October and December. Combined with poor production and reduced income opportunities, this will likely result in poor households facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity outcomes during that period. 

    •  Ongoing government and partner safety-net programs are also contributing to adequate food access for the chronically food-insecure households. Safety-net programs are currently benefiting 226,000 people.

    ZONE

     CURRENT ANOMALIES

    PROJECTED ANOMALIES

    Southern Lowlands, Foothills and Senque River Valley Livelihood Zones

    Remittances and construction labour has decreased mainly due to closure of local textiles factories and mining strikes and job cuts from RSA

    Poor households will have significantly reduced purchasing power between October and December


    Projected Outlook through December 2014

    The 19 percent drop in current crop production compared to the five-year year average, reduced incomes, and well above-average staple food prices are expected to continue driving a deterioration of the food security situation, particularly among the poor households in Maseru, Mafeteng, Mohales’ Hoek, Quthin, and Thabatseka. From late October to December, poor households in these areas are likely to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity.

    The Lesotho Vulnerability Assessment Committee (LVAC) has estimated that 32 percent (447,760) of the population is at risk of food insecurity. This figure is six percent above five-year average and 0.5 percent less than the normal year 2009/10 consumption year (Figure 1). Historical trends show that the numbers of food insecure people in good years has ranged from 200,000 – 353,000, which was observed during the 2013/14, 2010/11, 2008/9 and 2006/07 consumption periods. Based on these trends FEWS NET estimates that an average of 256,000 people of the estimated food insecure population is a combination of chronic and acute food insecurity outcomes and that the remaining 12 percent (191,760) is mostly acute food insecurity. This suggests that the food security situation in Lesotho is a chronic situation exacerbated by the change in prices and drop in current production.

    Maize meal prices have remained relatively stable throughout the country, increasing by only three percent between June and July. However, increases in demand this year and seasonal trends (Figure 2) suggest that price trends are likely to increase above last year and the five-year average. However, considering that white maize prices in the main source market of South Africa declined by 6.9 percent between June and July and are 24.5 percent lower than at the same time last year, local food prices are likely to be stabilized with the low prices in source market. This will likely have a stabilizing effect on the increase of prices suggested by the technical analysis (Figure 2) and FEWS NET projects that prices are likely to range between the lower bound of the projection 5.50-6.00 and last year’s prices of 5 – 5.30 Maloti per kilogram of maize meal, maintaining a level less than 15 percent above last year’s prices. These prices will still remain extremely high at 120 to 190 above the prices during the reference year. Food price are remaining at increased levels due to production costs, transportation, fuel, and markup margin. Following the floods and poor production of the 2010/11 season, food prices increased sharply and remained high as the following year was another poor year.

    Seasonal rainfall is expected to start on time in October, but with a 56 percent chance for an El Nino event to occur, below-average seasonal rainfall is likely for the October to March period. The SARCOF seasonal forecast to be released in late August 2014 will take into account El Nino and other factors that could affect Lesotho’s seasonal performance. Land preparation and planting at the start of the agriculture season typically provides labor opportunities for poor households. This year, however, more people than usual are seeking labor opportunities, resulting in lower wages and more competition for jobs.

    Figures Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. Populations at risk of food insecurity – 2009/10 to 2014/15 consumption periods.

    Figure 2

    Figure 1. Populations at risk of food insecurity – 2009/10 to 2014/15 consumption periods.

    Source: Lesotho Vulnerability Assessment Committee

    Figure 2. Current and projected trend of maize prices

    Figure 3

    Figure 2. Current and projected trend of maize prices

    Source: FEWS NET Technical price projection of GIEWS data

    Figure 4

    Source:

    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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