Lesotho has an HIV prevalence rate of 23.3 per cent among adults – the third highest in the world.
The average life expectancy is just 42 years and some 150,000 children have been orphaned due to AIDS.
It also has one of the highest rates of tuberculosis in the world with an estimated 14,000 people infected. Some forms of TB are now drug resistant.
Then there is the added danger of food shortages. Harsh environmental conditions have severely damaged and reduced what little arable land is available. It was estimated that 726,000 people were at serious risk of food shortages in 2012.
By 2015, after eight years of working with the Lesotho Red Cross, the British Red Cross saw positive change in communities affected by HIV. Increased availability of anti-retroviral treatment means many people are healthier and have learnt to live positively with HIV.
But to sustain more active lives, there is now an even greater need for adequate nutrition and food self-sufficiency. Together with the Lesotho Red Cross, the British Red Cross is working on an integrated HIV and food security programme. It has seven objectives:
- To meet immediate food needs for the most vulnerable households
- To achieve household food self-sufficiency
- To strengthen community resilience to natural and manmade hazards
- To prevent further HIV infection
- To expand care, treatment and support
- To reduce stigma and discrimination
- To strengthen LRCS’ ability to deliver larger programmes