October 16, 2003

Lesotho facing a severe drought

Lesotho is facing a more severe drought than originally anticipated. According to the latest report by the Lesotho Meteorological Services (LMS), high temperatures and strong winds are said to be responsible for enhanced soil moisture loss.

"When the nation was first notified about the developing drought in March, it had been expected that the drought conditions would end by mid-September. However this drought is expected to continue through this month," said the LMS. Accordingly, the drought continues to affect various sectors, saying agricultural activities such as land cultivation were hampered due to insufficient soil moisture.

Drinking water for humans and livestock is also a major problem in most areas. According to LMS, further warning of a threat of disease outbreaks due to consumption of stagnant water. Though rangelands conditions are expected to slightly improve due to the light rains, they will still remain poor.

The LMS further announced that with the continuing drought situation, food security would continue to deteriorate. "This drought is very significant as it has contributed to a total failure in winter cropping. It has already delayed commencement of agricultural activities in the mountain regions and it has also shortened the summer agricultural activities in the lowlands as they can only start in late November," the LMS said.

Improved rainfall that could possibly end the drought situation is only expected towards the middle of November. Lesotho has been hit by various climate related food production set-backs in the past three years, leaving some over half a million people in need of food. (Morpheme/The Survivor, Maseru)

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