Lesotho remains in the woods as poverty persists

. . . lived reality blights 200th anniversary celebrations


MASERU – A majority of Basotho continues to experience poverty despite a slight improvement compared to the previous year, the authoritative Afrobarometer survey has revealed. The survey highlights the persistent reality of poverty in Lesotho, where 60% of Basotho experienced moderate to severe poverty over the past year.

The non-partisan Pan-African research network has further revealed that most Basotho experienced severe hardships over the past year. Afrobarometer, whose secretariat headquarters are in Accra, Ghana, is a research network that measures public attitudes on economic, political, and social matters in Africa.

Locally, Advision Lesotho is the consultancy responsible for undertaking national surveys’ fieldwork for Afrobarometer. In collaboration with regional and national partners, Afrobarometer has just released its latest survey on Lesotho, offering timely and reliable data on the perspectives of Basotho to guide development and policy decisions.

The Afrobarometer team surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,200 adult Basotho in March 2024. This sample size ensures country-level results with a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points at a 95% confidence level. Previous surveys were conducted in Lesotho from 2000 to 2022.

In her presentation on Tuesday, the National Investigator at Advision Lesotho, Libuseng Malephane, said about six in 10 Basotho experienced moderate or high-level poverty during the past year, a signif icant improvement as compared to 2020, a recent Afrobarometer shows.

Malephane said those rural residents, particularly women, the elderly, and those without formal education, experience moderate to high levels of poverty due to shortages of essential resources like food, water, and income.

According to their research, individuals with non-formal education or only primary education have the highest rates of lived poverty, with around 76% reporting such conditions, compared to 33% of those with post-secondary qualifications.

She revealed that in 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic, the proportion of Basotho experiencing frequent deprivation of basic life necessities reached its highest point. However, it has been steadily decreasing since then. Malephane noted that unemployment remains the major issue faced by Basotho and called for urgent government intervention.

“Unemployment is followed by poor infrastructure, lack of water and electricity supply as Lesotho celebrates 200 years,” she said. Meanwhile, Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Tšepang Tšita Mosena, expressed her appreciation for the organisation’s work, stating that it is a valuable exercise that can serve as a reference point.

Mosena emphasized the importance of stakeholders coming together to share information beyond the confines of meeting rooms. She also highlighted the usefulness of the information for other institutions, as it provides an accurate representation of the findings and further assured stakeholders that the study will not be ignored and that the Upper House will prioritise the findings.

She added that the government, through various departments, could base their work on these findings in approaching public needs. Amelia Khethang, a participant from the Lesotho Red Cross Society, said the presentations’ results are nothing to boast about. Khethang highlighted that the findings shed light on Lesotho’s issues, with unemployment being a significant challenge for the youth.

She said the unemployment rate being at 62% should be a matter of grave concern by the government as it contributes to poverty. She said the expectation is that Lesotho should have improved as it celebrates 200 years. Khethang said she is happy that Afrobarometer took a step to even invite Members of Parliament as it presents its key findings, saying it will be most significant if they can be used. “I believe Lesotho will develop as long as it can look further for the root cause of unemployment and come up with corresponding policies to tackle unemployment,” she said.