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In March, food insecurity began to improve as many households began consuming green crops during the peak of the lean season. The situation further improved in April as poor and very poor households began drying the main season harvest early this season and consuming their own production as well. In addition, humanitarian assistance is still ongoing and will likely end in May and June.
Income sources are also improving and the majority of very poor and poor households are beginning to access harvesting labor, which is expected to peak in May. Since this is the peak period for the shedding of goats and sheep, income from the sale of wool and mohair is also increasing. These livelihood activities will significantly improve household income levels.
With the anticipation of a good national harvest in Lesotho and across the region, staple food prices have declined gradually in Lesotho as well as in source markets in South Africa. Household purchasing power is strengthening due to a combination of improved income and declining staple prices, which is improving food security outcomes. With improved purchasing power and food availability from own production, most of Lesotho will likely experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity outcomes between May and September 2017.
|Zone||Current Anomalies||Projected Anomalies|
Early drying of crops by very poor households as they begin to consume dry harvest
|It is expected that the very poor and poor will likely start to sell their crops early given the cash deficit that they have from last year’s poor production. By selling early households will not obtain normal prices for their crops, and so their earned income from crops will likely be lower.|
The lean season following one of the worst cropping seasons in history has finally concluded for households. The crop situation in the fields looks good and most of the maize crop is drying and is nearly ready for harvesting. Some households are preparing to harvest and others have started harvesting early. Unlike other countries in the region, there have been no reported outbreaks of pests and disease. In this regard, a normal harvest is expected this year and this is likely to restore food security in the country.
Since very poor households were the worst affected by last season’s drought, they have started consuming their dry harvest earlier than usual. Although this is significantly improving their consumption, this is also a coping strategy, as they cannot wait any longer. The early consumption of dry harvest comes in addition to green foods which households began to consume in March. Before households began accessing green foods, many experienced food consumption and livelihood protection gaps. Humanitarian assistance is still ongoing in order to partly avoid premature harvesting of crops, and will likely end in May and June.
Income sources and levels are beginning to improve for households at this time in the season. Some households will be accessing income from crop sales, and opportunities for harvesting labor are also beginning to surface as the middle and better off make preparations for harvesting. These opportunities are expected to improve significantly for poor and very poor households through May. In addition, in-kind payments for harvesting labor are common and will further improve food access for labor dependent households. In addition to crop related income, households are also accessing income from selling wool and mohair produced from their sheep and goats. Usually, shedding stops before winter to protect the animals from the lower temperatures. So, most households will complete their shedding in May.
One of the major drivers of food insecurity this past consumption year were high staple food prices due to high local demand and driven by poor production in Lesotho, as well as high prices in South Africa due to poor production. This season both the local and regional harvests prospects are good, so local staple food prices are gradually declining (Figure 1) and are expected to continue declining between May and September. Stable food prices and improved income opportunities are expected to continue during the post-harvest period of May to September. As a result, it is expected that most of Lesotho will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food security outcomes between May and September 2017.
Figure 1. Maseru maize meal prices
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