LESOTHO* (10 February)
Sporadic and generally inadequate rainfall in Lesotho is a cause for concern as the country tries to recover from the multi-year drought. Although heavy rains were received recently, the cumulative precipitation this season has been substantially below normal. The food supply situation, especially during these lean months, remains very tight due to a 60 percent drop in cereal production in 2004 from the year before. Although much of the cereal import requirements can be covered on commercial basis, mainly from South Africa, lack of purchasing power of a large section of the population has created a major problem of food insecurity. Emergency food relief for 2004/05 marketing year (April/March) was estimated at 48 500 tonnes of cereals for the most vulnerable people affected by crop failure and by HIV/AIDS. Since January 2005 a new regional Protracted Relief and Rehabilitation Operation (PRRO) of WFP is intended to benefit on average 171 000 people.