Life in Lesotho

On the face of it, this video documentary appears to be about the impact of the displacement of thousands following the construction of a dam in Lesotho to address the country's chronic water shortage after years of droughts, but it goes further than that, providing unique insights into daily life in the Kingdom of Lesotho, a small mountain independent nation that is home to some 2,000,000 people and an enclave within South Africa.

Lesotho is a country in crisis at risk of being wiped out, not by invasion or warfare but by a virus ~ HIV ~ a virus that is sweeping across the country affecting 30% of the population and half of all women.

As one village elder from Nazareth Haphloane commented "At this rate of dying, this village will soon be wiped out ... We are burying a child or adult victim of Aids almost every day."

Lesotho has more children who have lost parents to AIDS than any other country on the planet and many of these children are later abandoned on the streets by adults who cannot care for them or simply aren't prepared to share their limited resources with other people's HIV positive children "who are going to die anyway."  Life expectancy in Lesotho is under forty years and for those few families not affected by the HIV crisis life remains cruel.

Life in LesothoThe country has been wracked by political turmoil, droughts causing severe food shortages and malnutrition, and the economic slump of 2009 created huge waves of unemployment as those travelling into South Africa to work in the mines there found their services were no longer required.

Life in Lesotho is made even more difficult by the fact that only 10% of its land being cultivable. However ongoing drought conditions have led the United Nations to report that climate change could shrink this even further to just 3% within twenty five years. Droughts have occurred in Lesotho for decades, however recent droughts have been the worst for over a quarter of a century leaving upwards of a quarter of the population in need of humanitarian aid just to survive.

Such droughts have decimated farm crops and many have abandoned the land, not just because of uncertainty as to whether crops will actually end up growing but also due to a shortage of manpower as AIDS sweeps across the kingdom.

This increasing dearth of home grown crops is forcing prices to rise as the population not have to rely on expensive imports with Lesotho currently importing 65% percent of its annual maize needs and 80% of its annual wheat needs.

As such, many go hungry with such prices forcing the provision of food out of their reach; children attend school under nourished and unable to concentrate and are further exhausted on returning from the local walk home from school by replenishing water supplies as part of their household chores.


Human Development Index for Lesotho 1980 - Present (Below)

The HDI (Human Development Index) is measured by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) and the World Bank and is based upon the life expectancy, literacy, access to knowledge and living standards of a country. Lesotho is in 158th place out of 186 countries and territories in 2013 and the chart below shows how levels of poverty and living standards in Lesotho now fall slightly short of low human standards.

Life in Lesotho

Life in Lesotho

Life in Lesotho

Life in Lesotho



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Life in Lesotho

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Life in Lesotho

Life in Lesotho

Life in Lesotho FactsThe drought is now so severe that the World Food Program estimates that about 30% of all water reservoirs in Lesotho have now dried up, forcing mainly women and children to walk hours and miles to access any water supplies.

Life in Lesotho is about building and maintaining the rural homestead and the perpetuation of traditional Lesotho institutions. Its culture is also heavily influenced by its history of resistance including the 'successful' Gun War, Zulu attacks and Boer transgressions, and the role of the Sotho people in developing South Africa not just as a nation but in educational and religious terms as well.

Authors and composers such as Thomas Mofolo (who wrote the popular novel 'Chaka') and Joshua Pulumo Mohapeloa are also celebrated in Lesotho culture. The two most significant dates in Lesotho culture are independence day (4th October) and Moshoeshoe's Day (12th March.)

Daily Life in LesothoThe latter a time for traditional dances, speeches and ceremonies, whilst the former focuses on celebrating children's achievements through sport and singing competitions.

Handmade musical instruments such as drums, stringed instruments, whistles and rattles accompany story tellers and dancers who embrace their audience as literature, dance and music fuse during the retelling of ancient folktales. The video of Lesotho culture, bottom right, features Lesotho dance where traditional dances are gender specific with 'Mokhibo' and 'Litolobonya' dances for Lesotho women and 'Ntlamo' and 'Mohobelo' dances for Lesotho men whilst the video above shows more about life in Lesotho.

Human Development Index Lesotho


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