Climate Change Overview

Country Summary

This page presents high-level information for Lesotho's climate zones and its seasonal cycle for mean temperature and precipitation for the latest climatology, 1991-2020. Climate zone classifications are derived from the Köppen-Geiger climate classification system, which divides climates into five main climate groups divided based on seasonal precipitation and temperature patterns. The five main groups are A (tropical), B (dry), C (temperate), D (continental), and E (polar). All climates except for those in the E group are assigned a seasonal precipitation sub-group (second letter).  Climate classifications are identified by hovering your mouse over the legend. A narrative overview of Lesotho's country context and climate is provided following the visualizations.

Lesotho is a small landlocked country in Southern Africa, surrounded by the Republic of South Africa, located between latitudes 28° and 31°S, and longitudes 27° and 30°E. The country’s 30,355 square kilometers (km2) of land area is characterized by a rugged terrain with elevations ranging from 1,388 m to 3,482 m. Only 10% of the country’s land is considered arable. The geography and location of Lesotho exposes the country to climatological patterns from both the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, resulting in significant variability in temperatures. Topographical variability and the microclimatological influences define the ecological zones of the country: the Lowlands (17%), Foothills (15%), Mountains (59%) and Senqu River Valley (9%). These zones are characterized by distinct climatic and ecological differences. The majority of socio-economic activity for Lesotho is restricted to the lowlands, the foothills and the Senqu River Valley, leaving the mostly barren and rugged mountain region mainly for grazing. 

Lesotho is a lower-middle-income country with a population of 2.1 million people (2019), has an annual growth rate of 0.8% (2019), and is projected to reach 2.3 million people by 2030 and 2.6 million people by 2050. An estimated 28% of the current population resides in urban areas, which is expected to increase to just 34% and 46% by 2030 and 2050, respectively. Lesotho’s geographical characteristics and socio-economic conditions, particularly for its rural population make it one of the most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change. The country is additionally vulnerable due to its high dependence on rain-fed agriculture and reliance on regional, imported energy supplies. 

Lesotho’s Nationally-Determined Contribution outlines that the country is particularly vulnerable to the negative impacts from climate variability and change on water and food security, as well as adverse conditions to health, human settlements, and the energy sector. The NDC’s key areas of focus include the sustainability of the environment, water resources, sustainable land management, agriculture, energy, and health sectors.