Understanding Lesotho’s Winter Challenges

Jun 14, 2024

When we think of Africa, many of us envision a continent that’s warm year-round. However, Lesotho, which has the world’s highest low point, experiences harsh winter conditions that can have severe implications for its residents, especially those who live in poverty. As Canadians look forward to warm summer weather, Lesotho’s coldest month, July, is just around the corner, bringing with it significant challenges.

Lesotho’s winter season starts in May and lasts until August. During this time, temperatures can plummet below freezing, sometimes bringing snowfall with it, especially in the highlands. These harsh conditions exacerbate the existing vulnerabilities faced by many families in Lesotho.

snow at the Hlotse Centre
kids playing, jackets

Food security is a major issue during Lesotho’s winter months. This past summer, the exceptionally hot weather made it very difficult for many families to grow produce to preserve for the winter. With approximately 80% of the rural population relying on less than 10% of arable land for subsistence farming, the impact of a poor growing season is profound. Lesotho is prone to floods, heavy rains and drought in the summer months which further reduces growing ability and puts an increased dependency on food imports.

Barren field in Lesotho

Malnutrition is a critical concern during the winter. It’s not just about having enough food but also about consuming food with the necessary nutrients. This is particularly important for young children, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and grandmothers. Chronic malnutrition affects 34.5% of children under five in Lesotho.

Help Lesotho is actively monitoring the food situation and responding to areas where people are most at risk. According to the World Food Programme, 580,000 people in Lesotho are considered “food insecure”, that’s approximately one quarter of the country’s population. The situation is especially dire for child-headed households, as many parents migrate to South Africa for work, leaving children to fend for themselves and take care of their other siblings. 

grannies in blankets
snow at Pitseng Centre

Additionally, during July’s winter break, schools close, and children lose access to school lunch programs, often resulting in increased hunger and reliance on just one small meal per day.

Your support is crucial in helping provide essential food parcels, solar lamps, blankets, and boots to those in need. By donating here, you help ensure that the people of Lesotho have the resources they need to survive the winter months and mitigate the impacts of food insecurity.