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Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity is expected in most of Lesotho through December as poor households access food through own production, food in exchange with labor, market purchases, and safety nets. Increases in staple food prices will likely result in poor households facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes in Qacha’s Nek, Thaba-Tseka, and Mafeteng between Augusts to December.
Stable food prices have started to increase gradually following below-average local production and increase of prices in South Africa. This trend is likely to reduce the purchasing power of poor, market-dependent households, particularly between October and December.
Ongoing government and partner safety-net programs are expected to provide stable access to food for chronically food insecure households. However, the LVAC estimates 180,000 people will require assistance above current safety nets coverage to meet acute shortfalls following below-average production and increases in food prices.
The Lesotho Vulnerability Assessment Committee (LVAC) has estimated that 33 percent (463,936) of the population would be at risk of food insecurity in the absence of any safety nets. However, Lesotho spends about 5.6 percent of GDP on various forms of safety nets which are also complemented by the United Nations and non-governmental organizations. On average, safety-net beneficiaries comprise 35-60 percent of the rural population in each district (Figure 1). The most significant transfers include Cash for Work, which provides (M975) per participating household in a year, school feeding providing a 1-2 meals/school day for all primary pupils, as well as public assistance grants, child grants, and pensions. Even in relatively better years (2006-07, 2008-09, and 2010-11 consumption years), between 200,000 and 353,000 people are estimated to be food insecure in Lesotho. Using this as a basis of comparison, this suggests that this the LVAC food-insecure population estimate of 463,936 food-insecure people reflects an increase in acute food insecurity.
Maize meal prices have started to increase throughout the country, increasing by only 2 percent between May and June. However, increases in demand this year, rises in prices in South Africa and seasonal trends (Figure 2) suggest that price trends are likely to increase while remaining above last year and the five-year average. Furthermore, the change in fuel prices will likely influence high prices particularly from September, local food prices are likely to remain high and to continue to increase. FEWS NET projects that prices are likely to range between the lower bound of the projection 5.62 - 6.06 and linear projected prices of 6.18 – 6.83 Maloti per kilogram of maize meal, or about 5-15 percent above last year’s prices. These high food prices are likely to reduce purchasing power of poor households particularly from August – November, when income opportunities are limited, resulting in localized deficits in some districts.
Seasonal rainfall is expected to start on time in October, but with a higher chance for a stronger El Nino event to occur, below-average seasonal rainfall is likely for the October to March period. This may affect agriculture-related labor opportunities such as land preparation and planting that typically provide incomes for poor households. Increases in staple food prices will likely result in poor households facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes in Qacha’s Nek, Thaba-Tseka, and Mafeteng between Augusts to December. The projected food insecurity outcomes will worsen in the event of changes in safety nets or failure of targeting at-risk households.
Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year
Source: FEWS NET
Figure 1. Lesotho Safety-Net Coverage
Source: Source: Lesotho Vulnerability Assessment Committee
Figure 2. Current and projected trend of maize prices, Maseru, Lesotho
Source: Source: FEWS NET Technical price projection of GIEWS 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.