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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 June 2007, 16:33 GMT 17:33 UK
Worst Lesotho drought in 30 years
Ox-drawn plough
Intensive farming has contributed to the erosion of soil
The United Nations has advised Lesotho to declare a state of emergency to help aid organisations respond to the country's worst drought in 30 years.

About one in five of the 1.9m population are in need of food aid.

The country already faces permanent food shortages due to poor agricultural practices, unproductive land and high rates of HIV/Aids.

A UN Food and Agricultural Organization official said declaring an emergency helps them get funds from donors.

The Lesotho Meteorological Service says the drought has been exacerbated by climate change.

map

The HIV/Aids pandemic has also affected Lesotho's ability to produce food.

The price of a bag of maize has doubled in a year, said the UN food agency's Bhim Udas.

"A further increase in maize prices at local shops is expected in the coming months as commercial importers begin to buy grains from the South African market at high prices," Mr Udas told the UN news agency, Irin.

More than half the country's population lives on less than $2 a day.


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