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M1.2 Billion Needed to Address Food Insecurity in Lesotho

Business

Ntsoaki Motaung

Reatile Elias, Chief Executive of the Disaster Management Authority (DMA), delivered a stark assessment at the closure of the Africa CDC’s African Volunteer Health Corps Surge (AVoHC-SURGE) training in Leribe, emphasising the urgent need for M1.2 billion to tackle food insecurity in Lesotho this year.

“We are witnessing a significant rise in the number of people experiencing food insecurity,” stated Elias. “By October, it is projected that nearly 700,000 individuals across the country will be in crisis.”

He highlighted the severity in districts such as Mafeteng, Mohale’s Hoek, Quthing, Qacha’s Nek, and Maseru, underscoring that these areas are in a critical state.

“This crisis has direct implications for Lesotho’s healthcare system, demanding heightened vigilance,” warned Elias.

Last year, the required resources to address food insecurity ranged from M300 to M500 million. This year, Elias stressed that the situation has worsened, necessitating a budget of M1.2 billion to mount an adequate response.

According to the 2021 Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, around 312,000 rural residents and an estimated 158,000 urban dwellers in Lesotho are food insecure. In total, approximately 470,000 people urgently require humanitarian assistance to bridge food gaps, protect livelihoods, and prevent acute malnutrition.

Meanwhile, the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) Lesotho plans to inject $118 million (LSL 2,301 billion) into agriculture over the next five years. Minister of Finance and Development Planning Dr. Retselisitsoe Matlanyane highlighted this initiative during the budget speech, aiming to boost commercial horticulture in key irrigation schemes and foster partnerships with local smallholder farmers.

“This investment aims to enhance horticultural production, create jobs, and reduce reliance on imports,” affirmed Matlanyane.

The government has allocated M160 million to combat hunger, ensure food security, and support sustainable agriculture. Already, M51 million worth of inputs have been procured to facilitate these efforts.

Assistant Public Relations Officer Mahlape Koali from the DMA indicated that the report has been presented to the Cabinet, with further presentations expected before Parliament and formal publication.

However, the Minister of Agriculture, Food Security, and Nutrition Thabo Mofosi expressed dissatisfaction with the results, highlighting the efforts made by his ministry’s side in light of the disappointing outcomes.

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