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Lesotho: Lesotho People Profile


Lesotho people.

The total population in Lesotho was last recorded at 2.1 million people in 2012 from 0.9 million in 1960, changing 141 percent during the last 50 years. Population in Lesotho averaged 1.47 Million from 1960 until 2012, reaching an all time high of 2.05 Million in 2012 and a record low of 0.85 Million in 1960.

Lesotho Population 1960-2015

Lesotho has of the highest rates of extreme poverty and low human development in Sub Saharan Africa. The last decade has seen some evolution in reducing hunger and malnutrition. The proportion of the people that lived with less than US dollar a day declined from 45% in 1999 to 33% in 2008. However, human development evolution has been badly hit by the HIV/AIDs pandemic. The country’s ranking in the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Index in 2008 was 156 out of 186. Evolution towards achieving UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has been encouraging in the areas of universal primary education, and to a certain extent of child and maternal mortality.

The financial crisis is likely to erode some of the gains Lesotho made with MDGs. A labour force survey conducted in 2008 reported that the unemployment rate was 21% and expected to rise in 2009 by percentage points. Declining incomes, rising unemployment and limited social security provisions are expected to increase the proportion of people living in extreme poverty by about percentage points in 2009.

The government provides free primary education and partial funding for secondary education. Net enrollment in primary education has increased from 57.7% in 1999 to about 84% in 2009. There has as well been improvement in education quality, with a considerable decline in the teacher-pupil ratio during this period. However challenges remain. According to a study by the National Statistical Bureau and Ministry of Education, there is an increase in repeat and drop out rates especially part children in rural areas. Parents find it expensive to keep children in school. The expected withdrawal of World Food Programme (WFP) support for primary school feeding programmes may worsen attendance rates. The government may have to provide resources to continue the programme. This may be difficult with declining government revenues in the near term.

Modest progress has been made in the last decade to reduce child mortality. From 2000 to 2007, child mortality declined at an annual rate of 3% while for infant mortality the figure was 2%. This trend however will not reach the goal of reducing child mortality by third by 2015. The same applies to maternal mortality. Lesotho needs to double its effort to be on track towards to achieving health MDGs. HIV/AIDs plays a significant role derailing efforts to improve health indicators.

The 24% prevalence rate of HIV/AIDs in Lesotho is the third highest in the world. The US-funded Millennium Challenge Account helps to build health centres. The first of the 150 clinics will open in 2010. The centres should give better access to anti-retroviral treatment. Work on a replacement for Queen Elizabeth II Hospital should be finished in 2011.