THE Famine Early Warning Systems (FEWS) has warned that 225000 people (about 10 percent of the country’s 2.1 million population), will experience food insecurity during the lean season which begins next week until February 2018 when some of the crops will be ready for harvest.
FEWS provides early warning and analysis on acute food insecurity in different countries to help government decision-makers and relief agencies plan for and respond to humanitarian crises. It was created in 1985 by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in the aftermath of devastating famines in East Africa.
In their latest report titled ‘Lesotho Remote Monitoring Update,’ FEWS noted that the “upcoming lean season is expected to be much less severe than what was experienced last year because of the 2015/16 El Niño-induced drought”.
“However, the annual Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis still estimates that approximately 225 000 people are likely to be food insecure at the peak of the lean season (December 2017-February 2018).
Very poor and poor households in marginal production areas, particularly in the Mohale’s Hoek, Mafeteng, Mokhotlong, and Quthing districts, are likely to have livelihood protection deficits and very small food consumption gaps.”
FEWS also noted while the high local availability of cereal had contributed to decreases in the prices of maize meal of about 9 percent between July and August this year in Maseru, the situation was likely to change with prices “gradually increasing as the lean season peaks as household demand picks up and households becoming more market-dependent”.
“Increasing prices during the December-March period will reduce purchasing power for many poor households, leading to some livelihood protection and marginal consumption gaps,” FEWS states.
It also noted the 2017/18 cropping season had started in many parts of the country due to the rains were received last month.
“Because of the good seasonal rainfall and crop performance last season, households are also anticipating a good next season as well, so on-farm labour opportunities are also increasing for very poor and poor households.”
FEWS also notes contrasting rainfall forecast patterns for the 2017/2018 season by American scientists on one hand and the South Africa Seasonal Climate Watch on the other.
“Recent discussions about international forecast models by United States Geological Survey (USGS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists indicate… that total cumulative rainfall during the October/November 2017 – March 2018 period is likely to be average tending to below average rainfall in southern parts of Southern Africa (including Lesotho).
“In contrast, the latest forecast issued by the South Africa Seasonal Climate Watch on October 26 expects above-normal rainfall between November 2017 and February 2018.”
In view, the contrasting predictions, FEWS advised that forecast models will need to be monitored closely in the coming months.