accessibility & help

Helping hungry families in Lesotho

31 December 2013

The British Red Cross provided help to an emergency appeal in Lesotho, where nearly three quarters of a million people were in desperate need of food.

Faced with a chronic food shortage affecting more than 725,000 people, the government of Lesotho declared a state of emergency in August 2012.

The Lesotho Red Cross launched an emergency appeal and, thanks to support from people like you, we contributed £69,000. We also sent a member of staff to help.

Causes and response

The situation became chronic in 2012 when more rainfall than usual affected crops.

Households across five districts – Mokhotlong, Thaba-Tseka, Kena, Mafeteng and Quthing – faced hunger and were given support in two ways: food distribution and land conservation activities.

The Lesotho Red Cross gave food to people and organised a scheme called food-for-work, distributing vegetable crop seeds between households in each of the affected districts. 

The scheme also offered training in disaster preparedness, farming and climate change, food preservation and seed production. 

This training was offered to Lesotho Red Cross volunteers, care workers, lead farmers and community members. Some 5,700 forest trees were also planted to prevent further soil erosion.

The people who were most vulnerable and had an interest in farming were chosen to take part in the project. Community members who were unable to take part due to illness or schooling were given food instead.

Continuing need

The food-for-work scheme was considered a success by community members and leaders.

Although the emergency operation came to an end in July 2013, we are working with the Lesotho Red Cross on a long-term HIV and food security programme, which aims to address the wider needs of communities vulnerable to high levels of HIV and food insecurity. 

Ben Webster, disaster response programme manager, said: “Hundreds of thousands of people in Lesotho were in desperate need of food support as a result of adverse conditions that continue to pose problems for vulnerable communities.

“The emergency appeal helped to alleviate the immediate food shortage, but there remains a need to support vulnerable communities in Lesotho.

“Only nine per cent of Lesotho’s total land is arable and the country continues to be affected by harsh winter conditions and droughts.

“The Lesotho Red Cross HIV and food security programme, supported by the British Red Cross, is crucial in developing long-term food sustainability.”

Find out more about our work in Lesotho.

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