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Lesotho's cereal production this year was just a third of the average for the last 10 years. A combination of floods, droughts and early frost destroyed the crops. Credit: OCHA
More than one third of people in the southern African country face food shortages.

United Nations agencies and humanitarian partners launched an appeal today (28 September) for US$38.9 million to respond to the food security crisis affecting some 725,000 people in Lesotho. 

“The humanitarian situation in Lesotho is bad,” said the country’s Prime Minister, Thomas Motsoahae Thabane. “We haven’t harvested now consecutively for three years. That means that whatever food stock we have has been exhausted. The rains were late again and the chances of an immediate good harvest are still very slim.” 
 
The southern African country’s cereal production this year was just a third of the average for the last 10 years. A combination of floods, droughts and early frost destroyed the crops. Throughout the region, over 8 million people in nine countries are now at risk of food insecurity.  
 
“We have a situation across southern Africa where we have so many people who are facing food shortages,” said UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos. “It is very important that the international community does not forget what is happening in a country like Lesotho. This can be devastating for a small country.” 
 
Through the appeal, UN agencies and humanitarian partners will be able to provide immediate life-saving aid, including emergency food assistance and health care. Earlier this month, the Government launched an appeal for $170 million to provide longer-term support to communities and farmers until June 2013. 
 
“In the interim, the situation of famine and hunger is becoming dangerously close to us and we would really need some international intervention to meet this crisis,” said Mr. Thabane. 
 
Soon after the Government declared a nationwide emergency food crisis last month, the UN Central Emergency Response Fund allocated $6.2 million to UNICEF, the World Food Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Health Organization and the UN Population Fund. These organizations are now providing critical support to tens of thousands of people, including nearly 9,000 malnourished children.