Lesotho | ActionAid UK


ActionAid has been working in Lesotho since 2004, initally to support people living with HIV 

We work with communities to improve access to food, to ensure that children have a good education, and to empower women to claim their rights.

Why we work in Lesotho

Lesotho is a mountainous and landlocked country in Southern Africa. Mostly made up of highlands, many of the villages in Lesotho are unreachable except by horseback or on foot. Food is often scarce – a consequence of the cold climate in the highlands and limited farmland in the lowlands.

in 2014 drought left half the rural population of Lesotho without enough food. Poor harvests, rising food prices, few job opportunities and a lack of access to water forced thousands of communities into extreme poverty. In December 2016, the government of Lesotho declared a state of emergency. 

  • 60
    60% of the population live below the poverty line on less than $1.90 per day.
  • 19
    19% of girls are married by their 18th birthday.
  • 48
    48% of men think it’s acceptable to beat their wife under some circumstances.

Children often miss out on school because it’s simply too difficult to get to. Over half of girls don’t go to secondary school and adult literacy rates are low. Even teachers struggle to reach their classrooms – many spend an entire day walking to school and can only work three days a week.

Despite having much higher literacy rates than men, women in Lesotho are severely disadvantaged. One in five girls are married by their 18th birthday. Nearly half of all men believe that beating your wife is acceptable under some circumstances. 

Manthatisi Takana

Farmer Manthatisi Takana tends to her vegetables in the highlands of Lesotho.

Photo: Eva-Lotta Jansson/ActionAid

What we do in Lesotho 

Training farmers in sustainable agriculutre 

ActionAid trains farmers in skills like irrigation, compost-making and how to diversify their crops. We also work with local women to find ways to preserve, package and store fresh produce to maximise its shelf life.

Providing a quality education 

ActionAid holds regular discussions with teachers and parents about how to break down the barriers stopping children from going to school. We have supported schools to build new classrooms and teachers’ homes nearer to schools so that they can offer full time classes. By providing girls with separate school toilets they can go to school when they have their period.

Standing up for women’s rights

ActionAid is working with local communities to change damaging attitudes towards women and girls. Local staff set up boys’ clubs in schools to discuss girls’ rights and promote positive role models of masculinity.

Men are also important in the fight for equality. ActionAid training gives men a better understanding of the issues women face and how to stand up for women’s rights when they see them violated. And women’s groups provide support, advice and training for women across Lesotho. 


Photo: Robin Hammond/Panos/ActionAid