Water Management Serious Issue in Lesotho
Juliette Letotokoto, a recently widowed farmer, stands on her small plot of land on the outskirts of Lesotho's capital and takes stock of her crops. It's late May, and by now she'd typically have a rainbow of plants to harvest: cabbage, peppers, chilies, beetroot. But today the predominant color is pale brown, a hue found in the desiccated corn stalks she's piled up like miniature tepees in her yard and the tired rows of others she's yet to cut back.
Usually, Letotokoto would have three full bags of corn to sell at a market this time of year. But the rains didn't come in the summer, and now she can't even fill one. "The drought really ruined everything," she says.
Lesotho, a small mountain kingdom surrounded by South Africa, was one of the nations hardest hit by the 2015 drought that caused Southern Africa's driest growing season in 35 years. The El Niño driven-phenomenon sparked a 47 percent drop in maize production, the country's staple food, during the spring harvest. At least 709,394 people – close to 50 percent of the population – are estimated to need food assistance through April 2017, according to the United Nations.