Impact of COVID-19 on Youth and Adolescents in Lesotho
25 June 2021
In support of Lesotho’s development priorities, as outlined in the Second National Strategic Development Plan NSDP II (2019 -2023) and as guided by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), African Union Agenda 2063 and other strategies and international instruments, the Government of Lesotho (GoL) collaborated with the United National Country Team (UNCT) to formulate the Lesotho United Nations Development Assistance Framework UNDAF (2019– 2023). To anchor UNDAF’s Strategic Framework, the UNCT has identified three key strategic priorities: (a) Accountable governance, effective institutions, social cohesion, and inclusion; (b) Sustainable human capital development; and (c) Sustainable and inclusive economic growth for poverty reduction.
To control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the GoL implemented various response measures to slow the transmission of virus. Following an initial country-wide lockdown, the GoL imposed movement restrictions and closed schools and non-essential businesses. To cushion against the immediate shock on the most vulnerable groups, the GoL in collaboration with Development Partners (DPs) and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) scaled up urgent health spending and expanded social assistance. The United Nations (UN) system continuously seeks to protect and uplift the most vulnerable. This is particularly critical during the COVID-19 pandemic, when new vulnerable groups have emerged, and widespread vulnerability has increased. For effective response, it is, therefore, important to understand how COVID-19 has impacted vulnerable groups.
In Lesotho, more than 60% of the population is aged below 351. Before the pandemic, young people already suffered disproportionate levels of multidimensional poverty and unemployment, and it is likely that their vulnerability will have heightened during the pandemic due to higher levels of informal employment and widespread school closures. This paper, therefore, seeks to investigate in detail the impact of COVID-19 on adolescents and youth in Lesotho, paying particular attention to the vulnerabilities they may face.