The majority of households are currently able to meet their food needs driven by consumption of food from own production supplemented by food purchases. Some households also access in-kind payments through labor to middle and better-off households due to ongoing off-season activities such as house smearing, construction, and domestic work. While income may be slightly below average due to the indirect impacts of COVID-19 both locally and in South Africa, the available income is adequate to cover households’ basic non-food needs. As a result, most of Lesotho is currently experiencing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes. Although, in southern areas from September, many poor households are expected to start experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes with further deterioration in outcomes into Crisis (IPC Phase 3) around October as own-produced foods seasonally deplete and staple food prices increase.
The prolonged lockdown in South Africa driven by the third wave of COVID-19 cases is likely to have some negative implications on Lesotho as these economies are well integrated. South Africa currently has restriction measures in place at Level 3 of 5. This includes reduced business hours, especially in the hospitality and entertainment industries that provide labor to some migrants. The slowdown of economic activities in South Africa will likely reduce labor migration and the flow of remittances to Lesotho, which is an important livelihood strategy for many poor households. Cumulative COVID-19 cases in Lesotho continue to increase, with the daily increase at a slower rate than during the second wave.
Food markets are adequately stocked across Lesotho. During the post-harvest period, there is less demand for maize meal in rural areas as most households are still consuming food from own production. Local millers are ensuring there are adequate stocks on the markets, while direct imports from South Africa are consistent. However, maize meal prices are expected to remain within 10 to 15 percent above the five-year average due to price transmission from South Africa to Lesotho. Market food prices in Lesotho are expected to remain generally stable through the end of 2021; however, remaining above average due to the price transmission from South Africa, where food prices are above average.