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The Minister of Social Development says the Lesotho government appreciates technical assistance provided by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) together with other development partners to help Lesotho implement Child Grants Programme (CGP) for social protection to vulnerable households.

Mr. Molahlehi Letlotlo was speaking at a meeting of the UNICEF Executive Board with local authorities in the Makhoarane Community Council in Morija on Saturday.

He said the Lesotho government through the Ministry of Social Development is proud that some countries came to Lesotho to learn about the successful implementation of the cash transfers to needy communities for social protection.

The Cash Grants Programme is an intervention by the Government of Lesotho, UNICEF and European Union (EU) where EU provides funds which are transfered to needy households.

The Minister commented that given the level of poverty facing majority of local households, hence appealed to development partners to intensify efforts to caver more of the ministry's clientele noting that the Ministry has recently launched the National Information System for Social Assistance (NISSA), which is a single registry that stores socio-economic data for targeting, planning, managing and monitoring Social Protection Programmes.

The system also serves as a source of information for targeting beneficiary selection and assist in integration of payments and Case Management so to reduce costs of delivery of social grants.

He further urged development partners to join efforts so that the social protection programme can be multiplies.

Mr. Letlotlo said around 60,000 households are expected to be registered hence a plea to development partners for more assistance to help vulnerable households improve their living standards.

Also speaking was the President of the UNICEF Executive Board who arrived in the country on Friday from New York, Mr. Walton Webson said they are happy to visit Lesotho to observe some of the field operations that UNICEF is doing for the local communities particularly provision of services to children no matter where they are.

Mr. Webson is accompanied by a delegation of five people.

He said UNICEF Executive Board’s visit is part of the efforts to promote oneness and ensuring that children receive services as mandated by this international organisations.

Also speaking was the National Director for the Catholic Relief Services Mrs. Erica Dahl-Bredine who said CRS is implementing a programme called Sustainable Poverty Reduction through Income, Nutrition and access to Government Services (SPRINGS) to complement Lesotho's national social assistance programme with the services households need to emerge from poverty and ensure their children's overall wellbeing.

She said through the programme, beneficiaries are trained on how to promote keyholes gardens, marketing skills in an effort to enable them to market their surplus production of vegetables from the keyhole gardens and earn sustainable income.

In his welcome remarks, the Area Chief of Morija, Chief Ranthomeng Matete said Morija is honoured to have hosted a high powered delegation, saying Morija is a special place in Lesotho as it is the first centre of learning established in 1833 by the French missionaries.

He said UNICEF continues to give support to different communities since Lesotho became party to the United Nations, just after she gained her independence in 1966.

Chief Ranthomeng expressed hope that the support will be intensified to benefit other vulnerable communities in the country.

The Chairperson of Makhoarane Community Council, Mr. Tsekiso Mphafi requested UNICEF to expand coverage of the households assisted so that the programme can benefit many families that are most vulnerable.

He also thanked CRS for the programme aimed at strengthening the livelihoods of the needy.

Meanwhile, the UNICEF Executive Board visited the school for herdboys in Semonkong and then visited the Scott hospital.

The delegation, led by the Board President Mr. Webson, Permanent Representative to the UN, Antigua and Barbuda arrived in the country on Friday for a five-day visit.

 Source: LENA 04/03/2017



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