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Lesotho: Flash Update 01 – Hailstorms and flash floods (as of 4 April 2018)

Highlights

• Heavy rains, hailstorms and flash floods affected Quthing, Mafeteng, Mohale’s Hoek and Thaba-Tseka districts

• At least 1,418 people (314 households) impacted, including 12 people killed and many children injured

• A total damage of LSL 4.07 million (around US$ 346,000) estimated to livelihoods and public infrastructures 

Situation Overview

In March 2018, Lesotho experienced heavy rains, hailstorms and flash floods which severely affected many areas of Quthing, Mafeteng, Mohale’s Hoek and Thaba-Tseka districts.

On 14 March, a hailstorm hit 23 villages in Mount Moorosi, Ha Robi (near Sebapala River) and Sixondo, in Quthing district. According to the rapid assessment undertaken by the Disaster Management Authority (DMA), at least 1,418 people (314 households) were impacted by the disaster, including one person killed and dozens of children and adults injured by the golfball-sized hailstones. Many animals were also reportedly killed.

Furthermore, the hailstorm damaged hundreds of houses, vehicles, roads along with 5 schools and one health centre. Various summer crops (maize, beans, sorghum, etc.) from a total of 258 acres (equivalent to 110 metric tonnes of expected yields) were also destroyed.

The rapid assessment estimated a total damage of LSL 4.07 million (around US$ 346,000) following the hailstorm which comprises of LSL 2.8 million (around US$ 238,000) related to damage on property and LSL 1.27 million (around US$ 108,000) of damage on crops.

Heavy rains also led to a series of significant flash floods in the four mentioned districts. On 14 March, a truck was washed away by an overflowing river near Mount Moorosi in Quthing district, killing 4 people. Similarly, on 22 March, a minibus was swept away while crossing Linakeng River in Thaba-Tseka district, killing 7 people. In addition, many houses and public infrastructures were destroyed by heavy rains in Mafeteng and Mohale’s Hoek districts.

According to FEWS NET, these climatic anomalies followed a 55-70% below normal cumulative rainfall performance recorded in the period September 2017- January 2018 which had already led to significant moisture deficits in key cropping areas of the country.

Furthermore, the latest crop assessment undertaken by the Lesotho Vulnerability Assessment Committee (LVAC) in February-March 2018 confirmed that a belowaverage crop production is expected for the upcoming harvest compared to the previous year, due to the delayed rains and unexpected snow, frost, extreme temperatures (high and low) and a dry spell recorded in  the considered period. This could result in a subsequent food insecurity to most of the households in the country in the coming months.

According to Lesotho Meteorological Services (LMS), all the districts in the country recorded and exceeded their monthly average rainfall in February and March 2018. In the period April-May 2018, normal to below normal rainfall as well as normal to below normal temperatures are expected. 

Webspace(s): 
Organization(s): 
United Nations Office of the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator
Original Publication Date: 
04 Apr 2018
Document type: 
Situation Report