The spread of COVID-19 in Lesotho has had devastating effects on the country’s vulnerable populations, leaving many on the breadline. Several people have lost their jobs and those operating in the informal sector are facing difficult times.
The EU and the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho have thus decided to allocate €5.5 Million from the 11th European Development Fund (EDF 11) to increase social transfers to assist vulnerable populations affected by the ongoing crisis.
The EU will work together with UNICEF on this initiative.
“This initiative builds on social protection systems already in place in the country, such as the Child Grant Programme (CGP) that is managed by the Lesotho Government. The National Information System for Social Assistance (NISSA) will be used to identify beneficiaries”, says EU Ambassador Christian Manahl.
“55,960 households, consisting of 257,416 individuals, will be supported through the action. 40,000 of those households are currently beneficiaries of the CGP. Through the action, they will receive an additional one-off top-up of M1,500”, Minister of Social Development ‘Matebatso Doti adds.
The remaining 15,960 households, which are already identified by NISSA but are not yet enrolled in the CGP, will receive a one-off payment of M2,268.
The action will also disseminate information about COVID-19 in those communities and raise awareness.
“Once again the EU and the UN have to come together to work on this initiative at this crucial time. We know that effective social transfers reduce poverty and inequality and these social effects can generate important development and growth impacts in Lesotho,” remarks the UN Resident Coordinator, Mr Salvator Niyonzima who spoke on behalf of all UN agencies involved in the initiative.
This assistance is in addition to support the EU has provided through its humanitarian branch, the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO). Earlier this year, the ECHO provided €1.5 million (M24 million) in humanitarian support to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). The funds enabled the WFP to expand its previous emergency drought assistance to an additional 22,100 vulnerable Basotho. However, this year saw a third consecutive poor harvest as a result of climate change and the dire situation has been exacerbated by the negative socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
ECHO has therefore allocated a total of €4.4 million (M87.3 million) to the WFP, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). This contribution will be used to:
Improve the food security of 8,500 households in the five worst affected districts (Quthing, Qacha’s Nek, Mohale’s Hoek, Mafeteng and Maseru) through provision of lifesaving cash to the value of €46 per month. (WFP)
Improve crop and livestock production through provision of agricultural inputs and technical expertise for 19,000 vulnerable farming households. (FAO)
Increase the capacity of the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Social Development, the District Health Management Team and local government to mount sustained COVID-19 response for vulnerable populations in border communities. (IOM)
€400,000 of the funds from ECHO have been allocated to World Vision Lesotho. The World Vision Lesotho project aims to improve the disaster preparedness and response of vulnerable populations at a national and community level in Mokhotlong and Thaba-Tseka.
“Altogether, the EU has made available an amount of €11.8 Million (approx. M235 Million) this year to alleviate the social hardships caused in the Kingdom of Lesotho as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic”, says EU Ambassador Christian Manahl.
For more information, please contact:
Mookho Makhetha, Delegation of the European Union in Lesotho, +266 6231 0193
‘Mankhatho Linko, Ministry of Social Development, +266 6200 1845
Ms Elita Banda, UNICEF Communications Specialist +266 6299 1288
Kathleen McCarthy, World Food Programme, +266 5885 3000
Atang Likotsi, World Vision Lesotho, +266 5758 9468