• Crisis Severity ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Impact ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Humanitarian Conditions ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Complexity ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Access Constraints ?
    No constraints
    Extreme constraints

Key figures

  • 2,009,000 Total population [?]
  • 1,062,000 People affected [?]
  • 582,000 People in Need [?]



Lesotho, like most of southern Africa, is experiencing climate-induced food insecurity. Late onset of rains, below-average rains, dry spells, frost, and recurrent droughts are the most visible causes of hunger and malnutrition in the country. Well-below average rainfalls have resulted in deterioration of the pasture and livestock conditions. Unending lean seasons have reduced food reserves to drastically low levels, leaving affected populations in IPC Crisis-level food insecurity. The last El Niño events in 2015-16 resulted in drought conditions and impacted the livelihoods and food security of 35% of the country’s population. ? Worsened drought conditions and lower levels of rainfall are forecast, with communities living in the rural areas more vulnerable and likely to be worst affected.? Most aid organizations working in the country are declaring drought emergencies in the whole country with reduced national capacity to cope with hunger and malnutrition levels.


Latest Developments


No significant recent humanitarian developments. This crisis is being monitored by our analysis team.

ACAPS' team is daily monitoring the impact of COVID-19. Find more information related to the outbreak here.


Reintroduction of COVID-19 mitigation measures results in decreased access to livelihoods and a deterioration in food security Latest update: 04/11/2020


Highly unlikely Somewhat likely Highly likely


Very low Moderate Major


Over 90% of consumer goods and services in Lesotho come from South Africa, which is also an important labour market for Lesotho citizens – 420,000 migrants from Lesotho work in South Africa. Almost 10,000 more people are employed annually in South African farms as seasonal workers. ?

Both Lesotho and South Africa implemented a lockdown from the end of March to May 2020 and closed the border to mitigate the COVID-19 impact.? Household income for both workers in Lesotho and migrant workers in South Africa has decreased because of movement restrictions and businesses closures. Although border closures have not blocked the flow of goods between the two countries, only formal traders have been allowed to operate.? Hygiene control measures for traders, lower working capacity, and having to obtain special permits have resulted in disruptions in supply chains and an increase in staple food prices.? COVID-19 has also impacted remittances: annual contributions have reduced from 35% to 15%, leading to additional household income losses. 17% of households in Lesotho depend on remittances as their main source of income.?

The number of COVID-19 cases in Lesotho is low (around 1,900), but South Africa is the worst-affected country in the continent with 715,868 cases and 18,968 deaths as of 26 October.? A significant increase in COVID-19 cases in Lesotho and South Africa will likely result in the reintroduction of mitigation measures, including movement restrictions. The South African Government is implementing a COVID-19 response strategy consisting of five levels of emergency.? Since 20 September, the country has been in the lowest level of emergency. International movements are partially allowed with a negative COVID-19 test certificate.? Since October 2020, South Africa seems to have experienced a rise in cases.? The five-step strategy allows the reintroduction of border closures.

40% (582,000 people) of the population assessed in all regions of Lesotho is expected to face Crisis (IPC 3) and Emergency (IPC 4) levels of food insecurity between October 2020 and March 2021.?


Closing the border between Lesotho and South Africa would cause additional price rises for food and other basic goods, if supply chains are disrupted. Given that the annual agricultural production in Lesotho has declined since 2017 – resulting in a dependency on imported staple foods from South Africa – households’ access to food is expected to further deteriorate.?

A second lockdown risks affecting access to livelihoods, causing further income losses. The lockdown imposed in South Africa in April led to the return of an estimated 93,000 migrant workers to Lesotho after losing their jobs.? Over 300,000 more workers from Lesotho in South Africa will be at risk of losing their jobs as a rise in COVID-19 cases impacts the country. Remittances will decrease further. Additional loss of income for households, both in urban and rural areas, will aggravate food insecurity, resulting in more than half of the population experiencing acute food insecurity.

The Government of Lesotho launched an economic mitigation plan of US$8 million to respond to the first wave of COVID-19.? The Lesotho economy was already decelerating prior to the pandemic; because of the impact of COVID-19, the GDP growth rate was projected at -5.1% in 2020/21.? Lack of financial resources means the government will likely not be able to address the economic impacts of an additional rise in COVID-19 cases.

Read the latest October Risk Analysis here

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