August 18, 2003

Lesotho needs urgent help to feed thousands

The World Food Programme (WFP) in Maseru announced on Monday, August 18, that Lesotho will need emergency assistance to feed thousands of hungry people over the next 12 months. The country director of the WFP in Maseru, Techeste Zegaber, said a delegation from the OPEC Fund for International Development will visit Lesotho as part of a three nation tour next week to study the food crisis in the country. The mission from the fund, a multilateral development finance institution established by the member countries of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, will also visit Swaziland and Mozambique.

Following poor agricultural production in Lesotho over the past two growing seasons, the southern parts of the country have again experienced poor crops due to a combination of erratic weather and inadequate feeds input. Zegabar said the food operation in Lesotho over the nest 12 months would need 38,000 metric tons of food for 375,000 vulnerable beneficiaries. The WFP assessment on the food crisis in Lesotho had shown the HIV/Aids pandemic continued to pose a serious threat to food security.

The impact of HIV/Aids and a decline in agricultural production were therefore seen as contributors to the current food shortages in the country. The HIV/Aids prevalence rate among adults in Lesotho was estimated at 31 percent, the fourth highest rate in the world. (SAPA, Johannesburg)

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