28 September 2012

Lesotho: UN Seeks $38 Million to Respond to Lesotho's Food Crisis

Photo: Mujahid Safodien/IRIN
Women collect water from a communal tap in the village of Ha Rantismane in Lesotho’s mountainous Thaba-Tseka District.

The United Nations today appealed for $38.5 million to help 725,000 people - a third of the population - in the small African country of Lesotho who are affected by a food crisis.

The number of people facing food insecurity in southern African countries has increased dramatically, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Currently over 8 million people in nine countries in the region are vulnerable to food insecurity.

Lesotho has experienced a more than 70 per cent drop in domestic agricultural production, owing to a series of flooding, late rains and early frost, the Office stated. This year's crop failures follow poor harvests last year, which has increased the vulnerability of many of the country's poorest farmers.

After declaring an emergency food crisis in August, the Government of Lesotho earlier this month launched an appeal for $170 million to support the most vulnerable for the period from September 2012 to June 2013.

"It is very important that the international community does not forget what is happening in a country like Lesotho," said Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos.

"This can be devastating for a small country and the way that we are trying to work going forward, which is to support communities, households and governments to really build resilience, this is what we also have to do for the longer term," Ms. Amos added.

Priority sectors for intervention in the appeal launched today in Geneva include food security, health and nutrition, protection and coordination.

Last month the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) approved a $6.2 million grant to support programmes carried out in the country by UN agencies, including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

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