This is one of five Country Issues Papers commissioned by the Forum for Food Security in Southern Africa.
The papers describe the food security policy framework in each focus country (Malawi, Mozambique, Lesotho, Zambia and Zimbabwe) and document the current priority food security concerns there, together with the range of stakeholder opinions on them. The papers have been written by residents of each country with knowledge of and expertise in the food security and policy environment.
The purpose of the papers is to identify the specific food security issues that are currently of greatest concern to stakeholders across the region, in order to provide a country-driven focus for the analytical work of the Forum for Food Security in Southern Africa.
According to the Lesotho Vulnerability Assessment Committee (LVAC), Lesotho, like the rest of Southern Africa, faces its most serious food security crisis since the severe drought of 1992. The country itself is classified as least developed, low income and a food deficit country. With regard to food availability, it is ranked 132 out of 173 countries assessed (National Nutrition and Cluster Survey, 2002). The May 2002 emergency food security assessment projected that 160,000 people, or 9% of the rural population, were in need of food assistance from September to November 2002. (Population estimates for Lesotho vary from two million to 2.2 million (see for example SADC-FANR 2003, LVAC 2002). By July of the same year, this figure had increased to 600,000. Three months later the number of food insecure people had increased by 108,797 to 760,000 (42%) in November/December (LVAC, 2002).
The problem of food insecurity is so serious and widespread that even districts, which are normally classified as a having high agricultural productivity (in the lowlands of the country) are now amongst the vulnerable ones. Cereal unavailability and the declining purchasing power have in turn resulted in families surviving without food or having one meal per day while in some areas famine is beginning to claim lives and worsen malnutrition (LVAC, 2002).