Human Rights Concerns
Lesotho is a small, mountainous country landlocked within the borders of South Africa. The country's population of over two million is burdened with chronic hunger, sixty percent of the country is living below the poverty line and approximately twelve percent require food assistance. Lesotho has one of the highest HIV rates in the world at twenty-three percent.
Lesotho functions under a parliamentary constitutional monarchy. After a brief period of instability in the late 1990's, peaceful parliamentary elections were held in 2002. However, opposition parties continue to dispute the results of the February 2007 elections that placed the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) in control of the majority of the National Assembly.
Lesotho's economy is primarily agrarian with little manufacturing or industry. Heavy rains that leave fields flooded and weed-infested further impair Lesotho's ability to produce more than thirty percent of the grain needed to feed its people. Food output is further reduced by the HIV/AIDS-related deaths of farmers.
Duties from the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) and remittances from miners employed in South Africa make up the majority of the economy. The global economic crisis saw Lesotho's share of SACU revenue decline by about 50 percent in the 2010-11 fiscal year. The number of mine workers needed in South Africa has been reduced and the Lesotho suffered significant losses due to lower demand in the textile industry.