Lesotho’s Mokhotlong district is one of the most remote regions in Southern Africa. At an altitude above 3500 meters, Mokhotlong is blanketed by snow for four to six months during winter, and its steep dirt roads are often impassable during summer due to heavy rains. Health clinics in the furthest reaches of the district are often impossible to reach by off-road vehicles or even motorbikes, leaving the communities served by these clinics in need of vital medical services.
Approximately 25 per cent of Lesotho’s adults are living with HIV, and the country suffers from high rates of maternal mortality, infant mortality, and malnutrition. To combat these problems, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and the Lesotho Ministry of Health established the Horse-riding for Health Program in the Mokhotlong district three years ago. Horseback is the most common mode of transport in Lesotho; the Basotho pony is an integral part of Lesotho’s culture, known for its sturdiness and strength under harsh conditions. The program contracts local horse owners to carry blood samples, antiretroviral medications, and other supplies between hard-to-reach health clinics and larger hospitals that are accessible by road. This unique program benefits both the Lesotho health system and the community, allowing health clinics to serve their patients, and provides a livelihood for the horse riders and their families.
Jon traveled to Mokhotlong in September 2010 to document the Horse-riding for Health program. His photos appeared in news outlets around the world, including MSNBC’s Photoblog, and Potso’s story was later profiled on ABC’s 20/20 and CNN International’s Inside Africa. All photos © Jon Hrusa/EPA