See also:
» 08.04.2009 - Lesotho ready to roll out social cash grants
» 25.10.2007 - Lesotho launches price subsidy campaign
» 18.10.2007 - Big boost for Lesotho nutrition
» 18.10.2007 - Big boost for Lesotho nutrition
» 08.07.2005 - New drought in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia
» 04.03.2005 - Lesotho hopes for first good harvest in 4 years
» 11.02.2004 - In Lesotho, "the land is blowing away"
» 04.11.2003 - Millions in southern African "face severe hunger"

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Agriculture - Nutrition | Health

Humanitarian crisis in Lesotho grows

afrol News, 6 February - Lesotho is currently faced with a double humanitarian crisis. The World Food Programme (WFP) speaks of a "total failure" of this year's agricultural season, and, according to official government figures, the HIV prevalence rate among adult Basotho has reached 31 percent.

As the situation in the small mountain kingdom of Lesotho gets mapped, it becomes increasingly clear that the country is facing its most serious humanitarian crisis in decades. Combined with the rising AIDS numbers, the drought that has gone on since 2001 is reaching the limits of the poor people's resistance.

A recent release from the Lesotho Meteorological Services has indicated that the agricultural season is facing total failure. "Drought-like conditions have also had a negative affect on water supplies in dams, wells and rivers," WFP reports from Lesotho today.

Villagers in the normally fertile valleys of Lesotho are observing that the cattle are beginning to die due to lack of water. Agricultural production is going to be minimal, even less than last year.

Despite rains in December 2003 and January this year, "the country continues to face serious drought conditions and increased vulnerability at the household level," the UN food agency warns. At least 600,000 people will require food aid this season, according to WFP, but the numbers are bound to rise even more.

More and more Basotho now rely on the little foreign food donations they get to survive. Food rations are however too small and are not reaching the people continuously due to lack of donations to the WFP. The UN agency has only received 15 percent of the funds it needs to assist the victims of the regional drought.

Around one third of the people in need of aid are additionally weakened by the HIV-AIDS pandemic, which has stricken the Kingdom especially hard. The disease is already causing the number of orphans to rise and the physical strength of the potential workers to decrease.

Faced by the growing humanitarian crisis, the Maseru government has asked for international help. The World Bank this week sent a mission to Lesotho to study ho the humanitarian crisis could be met by building the capacity of local institutions to handle AIDS and help manage the country's drought-induced food shortages, the UN reports.

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