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Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to persist during the lean season

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Lesotho
  • August 2016
Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to persist during the lean season

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  • Key Messages
  • PROJECTED OUTLOOK THROUGH JANUARY 2017
  • Key Messages
    • In Lesotho, many poor and very poor households are engaging in off-season activities, including gardening, construction, domestic work, as well as self-employment. However, income from most of these activities is below normal due to the impact of drought earlier this year. As a result, many households are migrating to urban centers in South Africa in search of labor. The below normal income from these off-season activities, combined with poor 2015/16 crop production, and high staple prices are driving the Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity outcomes experienced by very poor and poor households in Lesotho. These outcomes are expected to persist for the remainder of the outlook period. 

    • Even though maize meal prices remain 17 to 30 percent above the five-year average and this continues to erode purchasing power and constrain food access, there was a slight decline in staple prices between June and July. Though it is still too early to establish the trend and the factors contributing to this decrease, it is possible that this decrease is due to the government food subsidy program that began to cover 30 percent of the costs for maize meal and pulses a few months ago. If this is the case, the subsidy should improve household purchasing power and food access in the coming months. Close monitoring of food prices is however required. 

    • This winter, Lesotho experienced heavy snow in the mountains, and this is likely to improve residual moisture levels. Some water bodies recorded a slight water level rise due to the impact of melting snow because of the warming temperatures. With the start of land preparation activities over the next few months, this residual moisture should add to labor opportunities for very poor and poor households and will allow households to work in their gardens for vegetable production. 

    ZoneCurrent AnomaliesProjected Anomalies
    All ZonesLow incomes from off-season activities have resulted in below normal household income for very poor and poor households. High staple prices continue to prevail.Purchasing power for very poor and poor households will likely reduce, resulting in reduced access to food potentially leading to livelihood and food consumption gaps. 

     


    PROJECTED OUTLOOK THROUGH JANUARY 2017

    Lesotho is currently in the middle of its dry season. After a very harsh winter, temperatures are beginning to warm up. Given that many households have since exhausted their own cereal production 1-2 months ago; current off-season activities have become the most important livelihood sources for very poor and poor households. Typical off-season activities include gardening, construction, domestic work, as well as self-employment. Gardening activities are just starting as the winter season ends. Middle and better-off households that do large-scale vegetable production will likely hire poor and very poor household members for labor. In normal years, self-employment and construction can provide a significant amount of income for households, but because of the impact of the drought earlier this year on livelihoods; incomes from these activities are below normal this year. Some households are even migrating in search of labor opportunities in neighboring South Africa because the availability of off-season activities is so atypically low.

    This winter, Lesotho experienced heavy snow in the mountains and this is likely to improve residual moisture levels. Some water bodies recorded a slight water level rise due to the impact of melting snow because of the warming temperatures. With the start of land preparation activities over the next few months, this residual moisture should add to labor opportunities for very poor and poor households and will allow households to work in their gardens for vegetable production. As these activities associated with next cropping season increase, labor opportunities for very poor and poor households will gradually increase. This is likely to result in improved labor opportunities for very poor and poor households in the coming months. However, until the start of the seasonal rains, income levels are still expected to be atypically low for the first part of the 2016/17 cropping season. Once the seasonal rains begin, an increase in the availability of agricultural related labor is expected. In this regard, with the combined effects of low incomes due to below normal labor availability, a poor harvest, high staple prices, households will likely remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) during the projected period. 

    While the most vulnerable households are already receiving assistance, the rest of humanitarian partners are making plans to respond at a large scale as the lean season almost begins. Details about the assistance coverage are still forthcoming and have not been incorporated into this analysis.

    Due to the effects of two consecutive poor harvest in Lesotho, staple prices remain 17 to 30 percent above the five-year average and this continues to erode purchasing power and constrain food access. However, there was a slight decline in staple prices between June and July and this continues to erode purchasing power and constrain food access. Though it is still too early to establish the trend and the factors contributing to this decrease, it is possible that this decrease is due to the government food subsidy program that began to cover 30 percent of the costs for maize meal and pulses. If this is the case, the subsidy should improve household purchasing power and food access in the coming months. Close monitoring of food prices is however required.

    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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