Livelihood activities slightly improve as COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed
As of June 29, there are 27 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Lesotho. Testing has been limited with testing capacity reported at 150 people per day. The border closures and South Africa’s lockdown have impacted seasonal employment opportunities for poor households in Lesotho, as well as remittance inflows. Households that normally migrate to South Africa around May to July for harvesting labor opportunities are currently unable to do so and, consequently, income and remittances have been below average since April/May.
The relaxation of the COVID-19 control measures in Lesotho on May 6 has slightly improved economic activity in both rural and urban areas, although engagement in livelihood activities has not fully returned to normal. Rural households are engaged in several income earning activities such as crop and vegetable sales, casual labor, and petty trade. In urban areas, salaried and wage employment such as security guards, cleaners, domestic workers, and informal workers, make up some of the low-income urban earners who form very poor and poor households. Although businesses have begun operating at near normal levels since the relaxation of the COVID-19 control measures, the border closures and local sanitary control measures are delaying the supply of goods, limiting trade transactions, and impacting household incomes.
Maize meal prices in Maseru have been generally stable from October 2019 to March 2020. According to prices published by the Bureau of Statistics, maize meal prices in Maseru increased by approximately 9 percent from March to April 2020. April maize meal prices in Maseru were 12 and 5 percent above last year and the five-year average, respectively. This increase in maize meal prices primarily affected urban populations as rural households are relying on their recent harvests during this period. According to key informants, markets are well stocked despite delays at the border that are resulting from sanitary measures put in place to minimize the spread of COVID-19.