Drought and HIV/AIDS: a double fight in Lesotho
Lesotho faced in 2006/2007 the worst drought in 30 years. As a consequence, most people failed to harvest anything from their fields. In addition to drought, Lesotho has a huge HIV/AIDS problem, with over 23 percent of the population is believed to be infected.
FAO received a United Nations CERF grant to assist affected families in recovering their productive capacity. Part of the CERF grant was used to provide people living with HIV/AIDS with inputs for garden production and income generation. This was in recognition of the fact that people living with HIV/AIDS, in times of crisis, face an even greater challenge than most in accessing food. A total of 961 such people were assisted with garden tools, seeds and fertilizer.
Ms Thato Roberts is a 32 year-old single mother of two who is living with AIDS. She was selected as a beneficiary of the project because of her active participation in a local support group for people living with HIV/AIDS. The project provided vegetable seeds as well as a wheelbarrow, watering can, digging fork and a spade. This household of six people (Thato, her two children aged 9 and 10, her father and two of her siblings), none of whom is formally employed, lives 15 km southwest of Maseru City in Matukeng Village. The family lives in a thatched-round hut. Thato does odd jobs in her village as well as in the neighbouring villages to earn an income. Because she spends so much time away from home, her father takes care of the garden.
Thato immediately planted the vegetable seed she received as inputs. Meals were soon provided from the thriving crop, which included spinach, rape, carrots, beetroot, onions and tomatoes. Unfortunately, the crops were partly damaged by hailstorms in early January 2008. Nonetheless, at the time of this visit a good tomato crop was at the flowering stage.