About 75% of the population of Lesotho live in rural areas, and more than 75% of these are engaged in agriculture – mostly traditional, low input, low output, rain-fed cereal production – and extensive animal grazing. In the past, remittances from their mine workers in South Africa were a major source of rural livelihoods, providing vital cash needed to purchase agricultural inputs and productive assets or to invest in household assets and housing. However, remittances have declined steadily over the last 10 years as competition for jobs has intensified in the South African mining sector.

Lesotho, according to a 2012 UNAIDS report, has the second highest HIV adult prevalence rate in the world at 23.1%. According to the 2012 estimates, 360,000 people were living with HIV, 37,000 of them children. In 2012, Lesotho also experienced a serious drop of 70% in domestic agricultural production, putting over 726,000 people – about a third of the population – at serious risk of food insecurity. However, response and resilience efforts from international actors and local communities led to significant agricultural improvement in 2013, with a 70% decrease in the number of people at risk of food insecurity. Other minor humanitarian emergencies in 2013 included localized armyworm outbreaks which were quickly responded to.

OCHA ROSA has supported the country’s National Disaster Management Authority to strengthen response preparedness, and has also worked with other agencies to support long-term disaster risk reduction (DRR). Specific support includes:

  • Training on contingency planning, risk analysis and emergency preparedness for UN and Government, and supporting a review of disaster risk management policies;
  • Humanitarian Reform in 2008 and 2009, particularly coordination enhancement and humanitarian financing;  
  • Developing CERF applications and flash appeals for drought in 2007, floods in 2011, and food insecurity in 2011 and 2012.
  • Revising the Preparedness and Response plan;
  • Supporting the UNCT in the revision of pandemic influenza preparedness and response plans.
  • Incorporating resilience approaches in humanitarian response.