Moloantoa Mokhomphatha is a well-known house builder in his community, 45km from Lesotho’s capital, Maseru. In addition to pay from his construction work, he earns a small income from rearing cows for lease to fellow villagers. He also grows vegetables and maize and raises a few pigs for meat.
Without capital to invest, however, Mokhomphatha has been unable to venture into commercial farming or expand his construction business. Recently, building work has been so scarce that he has been forced to sell some of his cows. Last season’s disastrously dry weather also left him without a maize crop this year.
Name: Moloantoa Mokhomphatha
Does your spouse/partner live with you? Yes
What is your monthly salary? It depends on the volume of work I get.
What is your household’s total income - including your partner’s salary and any additional sources? Sometimes I can make as much as 5,000 maloti [$614] per month if someone has employed me to build or do the roofing of their house, but I don’t have a regular income.
How many people are living in your household - what is their relationship to you? My wife and my five children.
How many are dependent on you/your partner’s income - what is their relationship to you? In addition to my wife and our children, I - as the only male and eldest child in the family - am responsible for the welfare of my mother and my two nephews.
How much do you spend each month on food? 700 maloti [$86]
What is your main staple - how much does it cost each month? Our main staple is maize meal. It costs 225 maloti [$28] a month.
How much do you spend on rent? I don’t pay rent; I have a two-roomed house and a shack for keeping my farm produce.
How much on transport? We hardly travel to town, but on average, we spend about 150 maloti per month [$18].
How much do you spend on educating your children each month? More than 1,000 maloti [$123]. It’s a tough responsibility.
After you have paid all your bills each month, how much is left? There is no steady figure, but sometimes I am left with nothing.
Have you or any member of the household been forced to skip meals or reduce portion sizes in the last three months? We don’t necessarily skip meals, but we are sometimes forced to ration our portions in order to see us through the month.
Have you been forced to borrow money (or food) in the last three months to cover basic household needs? I have, in more than two cases, been forced to borrow money to pay for school fees.
“I don’t have a regular income. Sometimes I go for months with no work, and I have to depend on my meagre savings to get by. I have been without work for the last six months due to the high levels of poverty in our area. If people are unemployed, it means I will not be able to build or roof houses.
“I have two cows, which collectively produce about five litres [of milk] a day, and I sell each litre for five maloti [US$0.60]. I also grow vegetables, but the income I get from the crops is seasonal. I normally grow my own maize, but if the weather is bad, I am forced to buy maize flour from the shop.
“Lately, I have ventured into selling clothes, but the business has not yet taken off. I was forced to sell some of my best oxen, which I use for planting and pulling firewood for the villagers.
“My son and two of my nephews are in high school, and I am the one responsible for their educations. It costs more than 10,000 maloti [$1,229] per year to have them all in school.
“I was once awarded a small contract to supply a produce shop in town with green peppers, but I failed to honour the contract because I planted on a small scale. I want to expand my farming, and I want to rear many pigs, but that’s dependent on the support of the government; the government must support us.”