THE government and the European Union (EU) have signed a EUR 1.6 million (M26 million) additional financing agreement to support social protection in Lesotho.
Finance Minister, Moeketsi Majoro, and European Union (EU) Ambassador, Michael Doyle, inked the agreement which builds on an earlier funding commitment which was signed between the two countries on 9 September, 2015.
Speaking at the signing ceremony held in Maseru, Dr Majoro said the agreement would facilitate the expansion of the social protection programme to assist vulnerable children in Lesotho.
He said vulnerable children would be assisted through the provision of technical assistance, capacity building and poverty reduction.
“The specific objective of the project is to establish and implement a comprehensive social protection system that ensures the most vulnerable elements of Lesotho’s population are provided with a level of protection that is sustainable and where the citizens are able to enjoy the benefits of social protection without any discrimination, Dr Majoro said yesterday.
He said this was in line with the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) and the EU-Lesotho 11th European Development Fund (EDF) National Indicative Programme (NIP) 2014-2020, as the objective is to implement a comprehensive and sustainable social protection system for all citizens.
Dr Majoro said the programme would enhance the capacity of the Social Development Ministry to lead the implementation of the social protection system.
He further stated that it will help with enhanced capacity of local government structures to implement social protection strategies and promote behavioural change.
He also said government, with support of the EU, World Bank, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other partners had developed a National Information System for Social Assistance (NISSA) which is “a single national registry for social assistance”.
For his part, Dr Doyle said the EU was pleased to increase its already substantial support to Lesotho’s NISSA which he described as the pillar of the effective social protection system.
He said NISSA is a key achievement of EU social protection, adding, Lesotho had an effective social protection system.
“The agreement will provide enough funding for the expansion to a new round of 60 000 additional households, bringing the total to 230 000 families registered under NISSA by the end of this year,” Dr Doyle said.
“The EU is pleased to further increase its already substantial support to Lesotho’s NISSA, which is the pillar of the effective social protection system which is now in place in Lesotho.
“NISSA can help eliminate the possibilities for duplication of grant disbursements, it ensures the integrity and security of grant recipient records and it enables economies of scale by providing a targeting system for use by other stakeholders, including civil society when carrying out social protection interventions.”
He said more than 170 000 households of the estimated 350 000 households in the country are classified by category of vulnerability under NISSA, covering 46 community councils in all 10 districts.
He also said the funding would facilitate the expansion of the coverage to 10 additional community councils within the districts of Maseru, Berea, Leribe and Butha Buthe.