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Maseru – For nearly a decade now the European Union Delegation in Lesotho (EU) has worked closely with the country's Ministry of Social Development and UNICEF to strengthen the building of an integrated social protection system in the Kingdom. The goal is to assist the most economically and socially vulnerable segments of the country's society, in order for them to receive the kind of sustainable social assistance and services that they need.
Today, the 24th September 2018, the EU reinforced its commitment to the programme by signing an addendum to a Financing Agreement for the Support of Social Protection in Lesotho with the Government of Lesotho. The addendum increases the EU's contribution to the social protection programme by EUR 6.4 million (approx. LSL 106 million). The original financing agreement was signed in September 2015 and this addendum brings the EU's overall contribution to social protection in Lesotho to a total of EUR 16 million (approx. LSL 272 million). The duration of this project, which is implemented together with UNICEF, has also been extended until 2023.
Representing the EU at the signing ceremony was Head of Cooperation for Delegation in Lesotho, Markus Theobald. The Government of the Kingdom was represented by the National Authorising Officer, the Minister of Finance, Dr. Moeketsi Majoro. Minister of Social Development 'Matebatso Doti and UNICEF Lesotho Representative Dr. Nadi Albino were also present at the ceremony.
Speaking at the ceremony, Minister Doti explained that the additional funding is to support the further roll out of the National Information System for Social Assistance (NISSA). NISSA is a single integrated web-based database where the socio-economic information on all households in the country is stored to identify vulnerable populations. It is considered as the pillar of the social protection strategy. "About 230 000 households are already registered on NISSA and this has been a major success of the programme thus far. The additional funding will provide for the registration of more households and by the first quarter of 2019, 115 000 will be registered", Minister Doti added.
In his remarks, Minister Majoro said that the people of Lesotho were thankful for the continued cooperation with the EU. "It is not only important to protect the most vulnerable of our people, it must also be done in the most efficient manner. When fully operational, NISSA will help in this endeavour", he added.
Speaking to the media, the European Union's Head of Cooperation Markus Theobald said: "Solidarity with the most needy is one of the foundations on which the European house is built and a value of European citizens which the European Union promotes globally".
Working for social protection in the Kingdom arises out of a strong and long standing partnership between the EU, the Government of Lesotho, and UNICEF. Prior to the commencement of the current project in 2015 the EU has worked in this area in partnership with UNICEF since 2009. The Government wishes to establish an integrated and comprehensive social protection system that prevents and reduces economic and social vulnerabilities and thereby lifts the most disadvantaged out of poverty. NISSA as one of these social protection programmes aims to assist the Government in achieving its objectives which are enshrined by its Vision 2020 and its National Strategic Development Plans (NSDP).