How Le­sotho ben­e­fited from MCA

Lesotho Times - - Leader - Khotso mosola

IN 2007, the gov­ern­ment of Le­sotho signed a Mil­len­nium Chal­lenge Cor­po­ra­tion com­pact known as Mil­len­nium Chal­lenge Ac­count (MCA). This com­pact or agree­ment is a de­vel­op­men­tal as­sis­tance pro­gramme based on the lib­eral eco­nomic poli­cies that the United States so es­pouses, which brought with it millions of dol­lars for fi­nanc­ing of se­lected projects; namely the wa­ter sec­tor, health and pri­vate sec­tor devel­op­ment.

This was a great op­por­tu­nity for devel­op­ment and eco­nomic growth given the kind of projects that were to be fi­nanced. Dur­ing her 2016/17 bud­get pre­sen­ta­tion the Min­is­ter of Finance even at­trib­uted the re­cent pe­riod of growth in Le­sotho’s econ­omy to large projects which in­cluded those of the MCA.

What drives the MCA Model? The MCA was mulled in the wake of the 11 Septem­ber 2001 ter­ror­ist at­tacks in the United States. It was part of the then ad­min­is­tra­tion of Ge­orge W Bush’s grand strat­egy as en­cap­su­lated in his na­tional se­cu­rity strat­egy which em­pha­sized on the need for de­vel­op­men­tal aid to be part of the more tra­di­tional for­eign pol­icy ob­jec­tives, namely, de­fense and diplo­macy.

There­fore, the MCA was to be based on lib­eral eco­nomic prin­ci­ples, that is, free mar­ket and free trade. The aim was to grant de­vel­op­men­tal aid or as­sis­tance to those de­vel­op­ing coun­tries that would com­mit or pur­sue po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic re­forms in pre-iden­ti­fied ar­eas; in what the ad­min­is­tra­tion de­fined as rul­ing justly, in­vest­ing in peo­ple and fos­ter­ing eco­nomic free­dom.

The MCA de­vel­op­men­tal model was lauded by an­a­lysts and com­men­ta­tors of for­eign pol­icy as a par­a­digm shift in for­eign aid busi­ness in a cen­tury and in Le­sotho it proved to be a suc­cess and it ar­guably de­liv­ered with­out much con­tro­versy which would have war­ranted its fail­ure.

The funded projects The gov­ern­ment of Le­sotho en­tered into a com­pact which was de­rived from the pro­posal that the gov­ern­ment sub­mit­ted and from the pro­posal the de­ci­sion was made to finance three projects, the wa­ter sec­tor project, health sec­tor and pri­vate sec­tor devel­op­ment project.

This first com­pact was the most suc­cess­ful in its achieve­ment of the set time­frame for com­ple­tion of projects and also what was note­wor­thy was the gov­ern­ment com­mit­ment of its own funds for com­ple­tion of the out­stand­ing works which re­sulted in MCA- Le­sotho be­ing given an accolade for a job well done in Wash­ing­ton.

The health sec­tor The im­pact that MCA projects have had on Le­sotho’s eco­nomic land­scape can­not be overem­pha­sized. First, the health sec­tor project en­tailed a num­ber of projects, namely the (a) the health strength­en­ing project, (b) na­tional ref­er­ence Lab­o­ra­tory project, (c) Blood trans­fu­sion cen­tre project (d) stu­dents dor­mi­to­ries and staff hous­ing at Na­tional Health Train­ing Cen­tre and (d) health cen­ters.

The health sec­tor project was very in­stru­men­tal in the ren­o­va­tion and ex­pan­sion of the 14 hos­pi­tals as well as con­struc­tion of 138 health cen­tres across the coun­try.

The project was seg­mented into a lot of ac­tiv­i­ties rang­ing from ren­o­va­tion/ con­struc­tion of health cen­tres to med­i­cal waste man­age­ment ac­tiv­ity which un­doubt­edly cre­ated a high num­ber of jobs es­pe­cially in the con­struc­tion sec­tor.

Those few years of ac­tiv­ity in the sec­tor were a re­quired boost for Le­sotho’s fledg­ling econ­omy par­tic­u­larly in the af­ter­math of the 2008 fi­nan­cial cri­sis.

The wa­ter sec­tor project There was also a hype of ac­tiv­ity in the wa­ter sec­tor. This in­cluded, but was not lim­ited to con­struc­tion of a con­veyance sys­tem from the Me­to­long Dam and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of ex­ist­ing in­fra­struc­ture, ru­ral wa­ter sup­ply and san­i­ta­tion ac­tiv­ity as well as wet­lands restora­tion and con­ser­va­tion ac­tiv­ity.

The ben­e­fits that ac­crued from this are not far­fetched for one dis­cern given the fact that towns such as Tey­ateya­neng, Roma and Mazenod are cur­rently ben­e­fit­ing from un­in­ter­rupted daily fresh wa­ter sup­ply from Me­to­long Dam es­pe­cially dur­ing this hard times of se­vere drought.

The most no­table seg­ment of the wa­ter sec­tor project was the one re­lated to san­i­ta­tion in ru­ral ar­eas which en­abled the con­struc­tion of ven­ti­lated pit la­trines or “VIP” toi­lets.

This was an­other hall­mark of MCA in the ru­ral ar­eas of Le­sotho by in­creas­ing ac­cess to im­proved san­i­ta­tion fa­cil­i­ties es­pe­cially to those places where there has al­ways been a greater need for such fa­cil­i­ties.

The net ef­fect of the wa­ter sec­tor was cre­ation of em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for scores of Ba­sotho with tech­ni­cal skills es­pe­cially in con­struc­tion. It was dur­ing this time that a host of lo­cal com­pa­nies mush­roomed and were able to com­pet­i­tively bid for des­ig­nated steel works as in the case of con­struc­tion of “VIP” toi­lets which were built in most parts of ru­ral Le­sotho.

Pri­vate sec­tor devel­op­ment

project The pri­vate sec­tor devel­op­ment project was the most sig­nif­i­cant in terms of its ini­tially in­tended ob­jec­tives and out­comes.

The ac­tiv­i­ties un­der the pri­vate sec­tor devel­op­ment in­cluded (i) im­prov­ing of land ad­min­is­tra­tion (ii) mod­ernising of com­mer­cial le­gal sys­tem (iii) the es­tab­lish­ment of a credit bureau (iv) as­sist­ing in the pro­duc­tion and roll out of na­tional iden­tity doc­u­ment/ card and (vi) strength­en­ing pay­ment of and set­tle­ment sys­tems and pro­vi­sion of train­ing and pub­lic out­reach to sup­port gen­der equal­ity in eco­nomic rights.

The project un­doubt­edly had a huge im­pact on Le­sotho’s do­mes­tic pol­icy makeup and texture which led to im­proved leg­isla­tive frame­work and in the cre­ation of some in­sti­tu­tion such as the Land Ad­min­is­tra­tion Au­thor­ity.

Through the pri­vate sec­tor devel­op­ment project, there was fa­cil­i­ta­tion for the en­act­ment of new law named Land Act of 2010 which re­pealed the Land Act of 1979, the Land Ad­min­is­tra­tion Au­thor­ity Act, Sec­tional Ti­tle Act and other per­ti­nent reg­u­la­tions which were a needed le­gal foun­da­tion for the cre­ation of Land Ad­min­is­tra­tion Au­thor­ity thus re­plac­ing the now de­funct Land Sur­vey and Phys­i­cal Plan­ning.

Con­tin­ued on Page 22 . . .

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