See also:
» 08.04.2009 - Lesotho ready to roll out social cash grants
» 25.10.2007 - Lesotho launches price subsidy campaign
» 08.07.2005 - New drought in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia
» 04.03.2005 - Lesotho hopes for first good harvest in 4 years
» 17.12.2004 - New project to train poorest farmers in Lesotho
» 28.09.2004 - Two million need food aid in Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland
» 05.07.2004 - Food shortages in Southern Africa "to continue"
» 17.06.2004 - EU emergency aid for Lesotho, Swaziland

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Agriculture - Nutrition

"Total crop failure" in Lesotho

afrol News, 23 January - The numbers of Basotho requiring food aid is heavily inflated by another "total crop failure" in the mountain Kingdom's most fertile areas. The drought is reported to be going on.

According to the World Food Programme (WFP), "the ongoing drought in the lowlands and foothills" of Lesotho has now resulted in a "total failure of winter crops and vastly reduced summer crop yields."

Basotho farmers thus face yet another season of high food insecurity and many will be depending on food aid. WFP, in its weekly 'Emergency Report', confirms that the UN agency now will have to increase its presence in Lesotho.

- While previous beneficiary numbers were envisaged for a planned average of 375,000 people, heightened vulnerability and increased food insecurity indicate that around 600,000 people will require food aid, WFP today estimated.

In the week from 14 to 20 January, WFP had distributed 308 metric tons of food to 25,747 beneficiaries through supplementary feeding programmes in health clinics and other targeted vulnerable group feeding projects. Now, the agency is preparing for far larger distributions.

Recent regional rainfall in Southern Africa had brought temporary relief following a prolonged dry period in the region. However, rains failed during the start of the agricultural season in November and December, and it now may be too late to plant additional crops. Worst hit by the drought are areas of South Africa, Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland and parts of Mozambique, according to WFP.

Also in neighbouring South Africa, the gravity of the situation was highlighted last week when President Thabo Mbeki declared parts of six of South Africa's nine provinces disaster areas. The proclamation will allow the government to appropriate additional funds for emergency relief. The provinces affected are KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga, the North West, Free State and the Northern Cape. A seventh province, Limpopo, was already declared a disaster area in October 2003.

At present, four million South Africans in rural areas are receiving emergency water from trucks. The Government has also begun to distribute food in the worst affected provinces. Food shortages are likely to be exacerbated further if the price of maize meal, a staple crop, continues to rise. The drought is reported to be the worst to affect South Africa in almost a century.

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