Lesotho Social Condition Facts

Social conditions

The family, the village community and the church are the most important social networks. Social legislation is still undeveloped.

The income distribution is uneven. While a small layer has made big money on the new projects for eg hydropower, large groups have remained poor, especially in the sparsely populated mountain areas in the east. One in five residents live below the international poverty level of the equivalent of $ 1.25 a day, while nearly two out of three earn less than $ 2 a day. Food shortages and malnutrition are recurring plagues for Lesothians. Crime spreads in the wake of poverty.

Lesotho has the second highest proportion of HIV-infected and AIDS sufferers in the world (after Swaziland). Almost one in four people between the ages of 15 and 49 carried the virus. HIV spread gained momentum when miners began to return from South Africa (see Labor Market). Life expectancy has dropped significantly as a result of HIV / AIDS, and it is estimated that 74,000 children are orphans due to the immunodeficiency disease. The epidemic contributes to the food shortage as many working-age farmers have become ill with AIDS or have died. In 2005, the government decided that toll-free HIV tests would be offered to all citizens in an attempt to curb the epidemic. Thousands of healthcare workers have been dispatched to go door-to-door and hand out tests.

lesotho population

Family and social life

The man is considered to be the head of the family, while the woman often takes care of agriculture as well as the household and the children. Polygamy is common among well-to-do lesbians and gives the man higher status because it is expensive to have several wives. Arranged marriages often occur and a bridal gift (bohadi) is then transferred from the husband’s family to the bride’s. On marriage, the bride leaves her family of origin and is admitted to the groom’s family.

In Lesotho, society is divided into clans.

The traditional family patterns described here have increasingly changed or broken down as tens of thousands of Lesotho men moved to South Africa to work there. Families have split and women’s role at home has widened. In some villages in Lesotho, women are several times more numerous than men.

The situation of women and children

Discrimination against women is prohibited under the Basic Law, but until 2006 there was a law that said that a married woman was incapable and was not entitled to sign an employment contract, make a police report or turn to the judicial system without her husband’s consent.

Although this law is now abolished, Lesotho continues to be a male-dominated society. Salaried women earn an average of just over a third as much as their male counterparts. A system of courts applying traditional practices violates women’s rights (see Political system). Violence against women is a widespread problem, as is prostitution and human trafficking, which often affects women and children.

The HIV / AIDS epidemic has hit hard on children, who are at risk of being born with HIV. They also run the risk of becoming orphans at an early age and are forced to provide for themselves. Child labor is common, especially in agriculture and livestock care.


Infant Mortality: 66 per 1000 births (2018)

Percentage of HIV infected: 23.6 percent (2018)

Proportion of HIV infected among young women

10.8 percent (2018)

Proportion of HIV infected among young men: 4.1 percent (2018)

Proportion of population with access to clean water: 71.6 percent (2015)

Proportion of the population having access to toilets: 42.8 percent (2017)

Public expenditure on health care as a percentage of GDP: 8.4 percent (2015)

Public expenditure on health care per person: $ 86 (2016)

Proportion of women in parliament: 22 percent (2018)