The Kingdom of Lesotho is an enclaved country within the borders of South Africa and has a population of around two million. Lesotho mainly depends on remittances from people employed in neighbouring South Africa and revenues from the export of diamonds and water.
Although the country is relatively wealthy compared to others in the region, inequalities in income distribution persist and many people live in poverty. Rising food and fuel prices, and disrupted trade of goods and services as a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine, have taken a toll on Lesotho’s economy.
SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it, in Lesotho since 1994.
Despite overall economic growth in Lesotho, more than half of the population lives in poverty. Only a small minority controls a vast part of the country's wealth. Poverty is deeply entrenched in rural, arid parts of Lesotho, where about 70% of the population live. Most people in these rural areas live off farming.
However, the country’s land that can be farmed is limited, and productivity has been declining due to inconsistent weather conditions.
Although intensified government efforts have led to some improvements, Lesotho still has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS in the world. Almost 23% of people in the country are living with the virus, 12,000 of whom are children under the age of 15.
Many other children are indirectly affected, as they lose their parents to the virus. As the disease typically affects a country's most productive members, HIV/AIDS also has economic consequences.
In light of inconsistent rainfall and recurring drought, many families in Lesotho face problems feeding themselves. The total area available for cultivation is already small. A combination of crop failure, low incomes and high food prices means that more than 500, 000 people in the country do not have access to enough nutritious food. Around a third of children under 5 do not grow healthily, with a very low height for their age. Brain development can also be negatively affected.