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The Kingdom of Lesotho, landlocked within South Africa, is a lower-middle-income country with a population of 2 million and a land mass of 30,555 km sq. Lesotho has high levels of income inequality, with almost half its population living in poverty, and a quarter in extreme poverty.

Food insecurity remains a chronic challenge, hindering the country’s development and progress towards zero hunger. Despite some economic growth, Lesotho has been unable to address rural poverty and promote inclusive social development.

Over a quarter of the population faces high levels of acute food insecurity and requires humanitarian action to reduce food gaps, protect and restore livelihoods, and prevent acute malnutrition.

Lesotho struggles with chronic malnutrition, particularly among children aged 2-3, where stunting (impaired growth due to malnutrition) rates at 34.5 percent. Micronutrient deficiencies (mainly iron and vitamin A) also remain a challenge, affecting more than half of children under 5. Almost half of children between 6 and 59 months suffer from iron deficiency anaemia. This can result in stunted development, which may become irreversible without iron supplements.

The economy relies heavily on agriculture, which serves as the primary income source for people in rural areas. Approximately 80 percent of the rural population are subsistence farmers relying on less than 10 percent of arable land, which creates a high dependency on food imports. The country is prone to disease outbreaks and disasters, particularly floods, heavy rains and drought. These events significantly affect farmers by altering the growing season and reducing agricultural production.

The COVID-19 pandemic, the economic impact of the conflict in Ukraine and recent heavy rains have posed challenges including increased urban and rural unemployment. This has reduced remittances, adversely affected food availability and prices, and damaged the purchasing power of poor households. As a result, vulnerable households have been pushed further into poverty.

Poor households have little resilience against economic shocks and lack savings or access to credit – trapping them in a cycle of low investments, productivity and income.

What the World Food Programme is doing in Lesotho

Crisis response
WFP provides food and cash assistance to people identified as severely food insecure during a crises. We also support early recovery through resilience-building activities such as land rehabilitation to foster people’s ability to meet their food security and nutrition needs. At-risk groups, such as pregnant and breastfeeding women, and people living with HIV, are also targeted through specialized nutritious food.
Social protection
WFP supports the government’s school-meal programmes by providing food to 60,000 students from over 2,400 Early Childhood Care and Development Centers, to improve access to food and the nutritional status of children. WFP also provides technical training to enhance the Government’s capacity to implement an early-warning system that is linked to social-protection systems and other initiatives.
WFP provides technical training and financial support to the Government of Lesotho and other actors regarding multisectoral coordination, planning, evidence building and implementation of nutrition policies and programmes, to improve nutrition among the entire population.
Resilience building and smallholder-farmer support
WFP supports initiatives including land rehabilitation, creating communal gardens and water harvesting. These are nutrition sensitive and improve and diversify the livelihoods of vulnerable communities and households affected by climate change and land degradation. WFP also provides training to smallholder farmers and other value-chain actors, particularly women, in climate-smart agriculture, food safety and quality, marketing of nutritious foods and financial services.
Service delivery
WFP provides expertise and services on supply chain on behalf of the Government and partners. We also provide on-demand cash-transfer services to government partners, UN agencies, and national and international NGOs.

Partners and donors

Achieving Zero Hunger is the work of many. Our work in Lesotho is made possible by the support and collaboration of our partners and donors, including:



WFP House,11 United Nations Road, Opposite Maseru Club, P.O. Box 301, Maseru, Lesotho

+266 22 323 989
+ 266 22 310 239
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