The critical environmental and sustainability issues of Lesotho:
In Lesotho, 57.1 percent of the 1.9 million-strong population lives below the national poverty line of $1.25 a day. In Lesotho, a massive 75 percent of the population lives in rural areas. More than half of these people are deemed poor and around 30 percent are living in extreme poverty. In 2016, it was estimated that 1 in every 3 would be in dire need of food aid in order to survive, and this has led to conflict in communities.
Lesotho has the third highest HIV infection rate in the world, with almost 23 percent of adults aged 15-49 affected and more than 9,000 AIDS-related deaths in 2014. Of the people infected with HIV, 80 percent are also infected with tuberculosis. Lower respiratory infections result in an annual mortality rate of 120 deaths per 100,000 people. One of the main causes of these infections is household air pollution from solid fuels used for cooking and heat. In 2014, non-communicable diseases accounted for 27 percent of total deaths.
- Water Crisis
Nearly 25 percent of the population lacks access to safe drinking water. In 2016, 17 percent of households in Lesotho reported using unprotected water sources. Even worse is the provision of sanitation in Lesotho, with 75 percent of people lacking access to adequate sanitation services. Without sanitation facilities, or access to working toilets or latrines, people’s only option is open defecation. Children under the age of five are the most vulnerable group. Each year, 500 children under the age of five die from diarrheal diseases caused by unsafe and inadequate water and sanitation in Lesotho.
In 2011, the rate of sexual assault in Lesotho was among the highest in the world, with 88.6 rape cases per 100,000 female inhabitants. In 2016, Lesotho had one of the highest numbers of new HIV infections worldwide. Illegal marriages are also prevalent, with 19 percent of Basotho females under age 18 being forced into illegal marriages, often with older men.
The Lesotho government estimates that around 725,000 people, or about a third of the population, are in need of some form of humanitarian aid. Lesotho’s economy and population rely heavily on agriculture; however, in recent years there has been severe drought. As a result, only about 20 percent of their demand for food has been met causing harsh food shortages across the country. According to the U.N. World Food Program (WFP), more than 700,000 people — a third of the population — are in immediate need of food assistance. In 2016, the government of Lesotho published a report entitled the Cost of Hunger in Africa (COHA), estimating that 1.96 billion maloti (U.S. $200 million) — seven percent of Lesotho’s GDP — was lost in 2014 due to child malnutrition.