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Minimal food insecurity outcomes expected as household food supplies increase

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Lesotho
  • May 2013
Minimal food insecurity outcomes expected as household food supplies increase

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through September 2013
  • Key Messages
    • As the majority of crops have reached maturity, poor rural households are meeting food requirements from their own production, and this is being supplemented with humanitarian assistance. Acute food insecurity outcomes through June are projected to be Minimal (IPC Phase 1!) throughout the country as household food supplies increase.

    • Despite a number of production constraints experienced during the 2012/13 agricultural season, cereal supplies from own production is expected to be better than last year’s levels given that the cereal harvest is estimated to be 83 percent and 11 percent higher than the previous season and  five year average, respectively. 

    • Findings from a USAID Food for Peace led rapid food security assessment indicate that most poor households in the Mountains and Senqu River Valley livelihood zones are likely to achieve an average food harvest for this consumption year. With humanitarian assistance planned to continue through December 2013, Minimal (IPC Phase 1!) acute food insecurity outcomes are projected among poor rural households between July and September.

    ZONE

    CURRENT ANOMALIES

    PROJECTED ANOMALIES

    Mountains

    • Above normal rainfall combined with early snow
    • The majority of crops are currently drying, so any increase in moisture levels could cause grain rot among cereals that are drying in the fields.

    Projected Outlook through September 2013

    Most rural poor households are meeting their cereal needs from their own production. Currently, as early planted crops are being harvested and dried, late planted crops are still maturing and harvesting is expected to be completed in June/July. The WFP is also implementing emergency operations interventions, which is improving household food access; for example, group feeding for infants and children is targeting 119,000 people, Cash for Work programming is targeting 145,000 people, and Food for Work programming is targeting 25,000 people. This humanitarian assistance for the 2013/14 consumption period is an extension of pledged funding that was delayed in response to the emergency food security situation following the poor 2011/12 harvest.  Targeted vulnerable group feeding is planned to end in June, while the remaining programs are planned to end in December. The increase in food supplies and the improvement in household access to diversified foods during the harvest period are expected to result in Minimal (IPC Phase 1!) food insecurity outcomes from May through June. Furthermore, additional resources have been injected into the WFP’s ongoing food assistance activities through a contribution by the South African Government of R180 million ($20 million USD) for the next two years.

    In late April a USAID Food for Peace rapid food security assessment found that the 2012/13 cereal harvest will be much better than the previous 2011/2012 harvest, and that most poorer rural households will be able to achieve near normal food supplies from their own production; for instance, on average poor households in the Mountains livelihood zone produce enough food supplies for 1.5 – 2.5 months, households in the Foothills and Northern Lowlands produce enough for 2.5 – 3 months, and households in Senqu River Valley livelihood zone produce enough food to cover  2 – 2.5 months.

    These assessment findings of improved food harvest prospects are corroborated by recent production estimates from the Bureau of Statistics, which suggests that total 2012/13 cereal production is 83 percent and 11 percent higher than last season and the five-year average production, respectively (Figure 2). Despite the number of production constraints faced during the 2012/13 agricultural season, these improved production prospects are likely attributed  to the government subsidy and share cropping programs, along with the concerted efforts by Government, UN Agencies and NGOs on promoting and scaling up of the usage of conservation agriculture techniques. Many of the farmers who adopted the conservation agriculture techniques managed to cope with erratic and uneven distribution of rainfall this season.

    Food produced by households is normally not enough to meet their food needs for the entire consumption period in Lesotho, and this is more so for poorer households. This means households have to rely on market purchases as the consumption period progresses. Fortunately, locally processed and imported maize meal is well distributed throughout the country by the two local milling companies and through traders. However, since most maize processing and assembly centers are located near urban centers, rural households tend to pay higher prices for locally processed food because of the added transport costs. Additionally, recent maize meal price data from FAO’s Food Price Data and Analysis Tool shows that the imported maize meal is more expensive than locally processed brands (Figure 3).  Based on the positive food harvest prospects this season, most households this consumption period are expected to produce enough food to last beyond the normal start of the lean season in October, when household typically rely heavily on market purchases. Minimal (IPC Phase 1!) food insecurity outcomes are expected from July to September, as household access to food from own production improves and humanitarian assistance continues.  

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Cereal production trends in Lesotho – 2006/7 to 2012/13.

    Figure 2

    Cereal production trends in Lesotho – 2006/7 to 2012/13.

    Source: Bureau of Statistics

    Prices for local and imported maize meal.

    Figure 3

    Prices for local and imported maize meal.

    Source: FAO/GIEWS

    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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