"While other factors contribute to droughts and the shrinking of cultivable land, climate change exacerbates the situation," said a new UN Development Programme (UNDP) assessment of countries' progress towards achieving the eight UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education by 2015.
Erratic weather, lack of access to agriculture inputs, soil erosion and high HIV/AIDS prevalence have all contributed to shrinking cereal production. In 1980 Lesotho produced grain enough to meet 80 percent of its requirement; by 2004 it could barely cover 30 percent of its needs, and output has been steadily dropping, according to the UN World Food Programme.
The UNDP report noted that adapting to climate change, which will affect food production, was urgently required to ensure all the MDGs are met, but this would take more money.
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"Estimates set the cost of ‘climate resilient’ MDGs to be about a third higher than the conventional cost of meeting the MDGs — around US$100 billion a year for the next decade."
The report also looked at how and to what extent the 2006-08 food price crisis, the global recession, and rapid urbanization had affected the ability of countries to achieve the MDGs.
There is more bad news for Lesotho. In 2009 the global recession took out more than a million jobs in neighbouring South Africa, especially in the mining sector, a traditional source of work and income. Unemployment in Lesotho shot up from a high 23 percent in 2008 to 29.4 percent in 2009.
The report noted that "Progress towards the MDGs is expected to improve, as growth is recovering in many countries, but achievement of the MDG goals will be delayed."
Read the report: What will it take to achieve the Millennium Development Goals?
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