M270m boost for drought re­lief

Lesotho Times - - Business - Pas­cali­nah Kabi

WORLD Bank Group has in­jected US$20 mil­lion ( M270 mil­lion) to as­sist govern­ment to mit­i­gate the ef­fects of the El Nino-in­duced drought which left more than 600 000 Ba­sotho food in­se­cure. The World Bank said in a state­ment yes­ter­day that the M270, 491, 740.84 would help govern­ment to im­prove the shock re­spon­sive func­tion of its on­go­ing so­cial as­sis­tance pro­grams which are part of its emer­gency re­sponse to drought. World Bank Act­ing Coun­try Di­rec­tor for Le­sotho Ivan Velev de­scribed shock-re­spon­sive so­cial pro­tec­tion as a “new and promis­ing area which seeks to en­sure that so­cial pro­tec­tion sys­tems can be used to pro­vide emer­gency re­sponse, thus en­sur­ing that those in need are reached in an ef­fec­tive and ef­fi­cient man­ner”.

So­cial De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Mo­lahlehi Let­lotlo said the money was go­ing to be used to top-up cash grants to so­cial pro­tec­tion pro­gramme ben­e­fi­cia­ries by a max­i­mum of M600.

“Our so­cial pro­tec­tion pro­gramme is not cov­er­ing the whole coun­try and we are go­ing to in­crease the num­ber by 6500 per year in three years,” Mr Let­lotlo told the Le­sotho Times yes­ter­day.

He said they would also use the money for liveli­hood im­prove­ment projects af­ter re­al­is­ing that the cash grants only ad­dressed the im­me­di­ate needs not the root is­sues at the heart of the poverty prob­lem.

He said they would iden­tify three vil­lages for the pi­lot pro­gramme ahead of launch­ing next year.

For her part, World Bank Le­sotho Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Spe­cial­ist Elita Banda said the ad­di­tional fi­nanc­ing would sup­port the So­cial De­vel­op­ment Min­istry in its use of the so­cial pro­tec­tion sys­tem to iden­tify and de­liver emer­gency re­lief to at least 26 000 poor and vul­ner­a­ble house­holds.

“The funds will also help strengthen the long term im­pacts of so­cial as­sis­tance, build­ing on the ex­ist­ing so­cial as­sis­tance project, by fur­ther­ing sup­port to in­creased en­rol­ment in the Na­tional In­for­ma­tion Sys­tem for So­cial As­sis­tance and the Child Grant Pro­gram,” Ms Banda said.

“Pro­vided through the Cri­sis Re­sponse Win­dow of the World Bank’s In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion (IDA), the ad­di­tional fi­nanc­ing will help en­sure that the orig­i­nally pre­dicted gains from Le­sotho So­cial As­sis­tance Project are not lost due to the im­pact of the cur­rent drought.

“It will also al­low the govern­ment to de­sign and pi­lot in­ter­ven­tions to strengthen the re­silience of poor and vul­ner­a­ble house­holds.”

She said these in­ter­ven­tions would con­trib­ute to bridg­ing the gap be­tween so­cial as­sis­tance ben­e­fi­cia­ries and pro­grammes that help in­crease pro­duc­tive po­ten­tial such as those in agri­cul­ture and forestry.

The so­cial as­sis­tance project was launched in July 2016 with the aim of im­prov­ing the ef­fi­ciency and eq­uity of five of the coun­try’s so­cial as­sis­tance pro­grammes – Child Grand, Or­phans and Vul­ner­a­ble Chil­dren Bur­sary Scheme, Post Pri­mary Bur­sary, Pub­lic As­sis­tance Pro­gramme and Old Age Pen­sion Scheme.

Ms Banda said the ad­di­tional fi­nanc­ing would also strengthen key as­pects of so­cial as­sis­tance that make it an ef­fec­tive cri­sis re­sponse mech­a­nism.

She said this mech­a­nism would be strength­ened through re­in­forc­ing tools to iden­tify vul­ner­a­ble house­holds in times of cri­sis, im­prov­ing the ef­fi­ciency of pro­grams and pay­ment sys­tems, and es­tab­lish­ing ex­plicit link­ages with emer­gency re­sponse op­er­a­tions.

So­cial De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Mo­lahlehi let­lotlo.

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