Speech of the UN Resident Coordinator at the Commemoration event of United Nations Day 2019
Bo-Me le bo-Ntate, Khotsong!
ALLOW TO PAY MY RSPECTS TO:
HIS MAJESTY KING LETSIE III,
THE RIGHT HONOURABLE THE PRIME MINISTER,
THE HONOURABLE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE,
HONOURABLE SPEAKER OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY,
HIS LORDSHIP PRESIDENT OF THE COURT OF APPEAL,
HER LADYSHIPSHIP THE CHIEF JUSTICE,
HONOURABLE MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT,
HONOURABLE DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER,
HONOURABLE MINISTERS OF HIS MAJESTY’S GOVERNMENT,
THEIR LORDSHIPS JUDGES OF THE COURT OF APPEAL AND THE HIGH COURT,
YOUR EXCELLENCIES MEMBERS OF THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS,
MY COLLEAGUES FROM UN LESOTHO;
LEADERS OF POLITICAL PARTIES AND CHURCH LEADERS,
HER WORSHIP THE MAYORESS OF MASERU,
OUR FRIENDS FROM THE ROTARY CLUB;
CHAIRPERSONS OF STATUTORY BODIES AND PRINCIPAL SECRETARIES,
HEADS OF DISCIPLINED FORCES, SECURITY AND CORRECTIONAL SERVICES,
HEADS OF ACADEMIC INSTITUTIONS AND PARASTATAL ENTERPRISES,
REPRESENTATIVES OF THE PRIVATE SECTOR, CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS AND MEDIA HOUSES,
FRIENDS OF THE UNITED NATIONS, DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,
ALL PROTOCOL OBSERVED
On behalf of the UN Family in Lesotho, it is an honor for me to welcome you at this special evening, as we commemorate the 74th Anniversary of the United Nations. On 24 October 1945 in San Francisco, USA, the UN Charter – the founding document of the organization- was adopted and signed by the first 52 Member states. As you know, the Charter lays out the main goals of the UN to maintain peace and security, to protect human rights, to promote sustainable development, to deliver humanitarian assistance and so much more.
Today is an opportunity for us to reflect and celebrate our achievements and impact. This morning, we launched a UN Photo Exhibition, centering around our work on climate action, education, youth and innovation, as well as gender equality. The exhibition was but a series of snapshots showcasing our achievements in those fields. Later in the morning, we attended an exciting, inspiring and truly energizing Model UN Debate hosted at Machabeng College. At the debate, 50 young people from 5 schools impressed us with their passion, their eloquence and very clear ideas on how to accelerate the implementation of the SDGs.
Tonight, we are gathered here to conclude the UN Day celebrations and look back at some of our achievements this year. So let me thank you being here with us tonight.
Distinguished Guests, Bo Mme le Bo Ntate,
In 2019, the UN Country Team has started the implementation of the United Nations Assistance Development Framework (UNDAF), a partnership framework developed in collaboration with the Government of Lesotho and you, our partners. The overall goal is to help implement the National Strategic Development Plan II and contribute to Lesotho’s progress towards achieving SDGs. I will not miss this opportunity to commend Government for completing its 1st SDGs Voluntary National Review in July with UN support.
In the area of governance, the UN is proud to have contributed to decisive stages of the national dialogue aimed at building consensus on critical reform areas and on how to undertake them. The National Dialogue process has provided a solid basis to pursue the grand vision of “Lesotho we Want” through specific recommendations for action. In this regard, the passing of the National Reform Authority Bill three days ago is a key milestone.
I use this opportunity to congratulate all stakeholders. As we look forward to completing the remaining steps of the Dialogue phase, allow me to note that: (1) this is a critical phase that we cannot afford to miss, no matter what; (2) this is the time when true leadership and patriotism will need to come to the fore because hard choices will need to be made; (3) this is a time when Lesotho will need as much support as it can possibly get; (4) the Basotho stakeholders bear an historic responsibility in this.
In the area of Human Rights, I am pleased to highlight two important achievements: the submission of the 3rd cycle Universal Periodic Review and the visit by Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation. The SR’s report observed several significant gaps related to the safe access of the population to water and sanitation services. The report calls for concerted and collective efforts in addressing the key gaps through policy, advocacy and programming efforts.
Honorable Minister, Distinguished Guests, Bo Mme le Bo Ntate;
The UN System has invested substantial amount of resources and efforts in the Social Sector: Health and HIV, Education, Social Protection, Gender Equality, climate change, and migration issues. The UN has supported the Government in validating and costing the National Action Plan for Health Security which will help build the required national capacities to address the risk of health emergencies in the country. With an HIV prevalence of 25.6% among adults and incidence at 1.10%, Lesotho bears a heavy HIV burden.
The UN supported the response through provision of normative guidance and tools to track the epidemic and response. We supported access to Sexual and Reproductive Health services, contraception and HIV prevention. Focusing on young people, the roll out of Comprehensive Sexuality Education has started and will continue for the coming years. To help keep children in school, we supported the procurement at least 10% of all food requirements of the school feeding programme from local smallholder farmers. Due to climate change, farmers experience challenges such as drought and low productivity and the local purchase initiative provides an incentive to farmers to produce more. Social protection programmes in order to reach the vulnerable households, particularly during the 2019 drought. These efforts are part of our work to support households to be more resilient to shocks. With our support to the Ministry of Social Development to strengthen the social protection system, more households were reached with the Child Grant Programme, a key grant to support vulnerable households (households who benefited increased from 37,738 in 2018 to about 41,049 households in 2019). UN support to the Ministry allowed for better targeting of households that are vulnerable the use of the data which is housed in the NISSA database. With this up-to-date data system, over 23,000 vulnerable children received OVC bursaries.
In the field of Gender Equality; UN supported the development and validation of the Beijing +25 Lesotho Country Report highlighting the most important achievements, challenges and set-backs in the progress towards gender equality and the empowerment of women over the past five years and beyond, based on the critical areas contained in the Beijing Declaration.
In Climate Change, UN helped strengthen resilience of communities and households in Mohale’s Hoek district, against climate induced shocks; and provided approaches to land rehabilitation and ecosystems re-generation, through the promotion of climatesmart techniques such as land-resting, water-harvesting, drip-irrigation and greenhouse . As you know, most of the Lesotho’s population depend on agriculture as their main livelihood source. Climatic shocks such as floods, droughts, early/late frost, changing weather condition and shortened growing season are resulting in reduced agricultural productivity.
This is exacerbated by the problem of soil erosion and declining investments in agriculture. Our programmes are aimed at improving food security, strengthening shock responsive social protection and building resilience of communities especially those affected by drought conditions. The geographic situation of Lesotho within South Africa makes migration a relevant issue to be addressed. In 2019, UN supported GoL in addressing cross-border issues through strengthening of border and immigration management, addressing migration and health, human trafficking and migration governance.
Honorable Minister, Distinguished Guests, Bo- Mme le Bo-Ntate
In June 2018, Lesotho Vulnerability Assessment Committee (LVAC) through the estimated that over 308 966 Basotho would need food assistance from October 2018- February 2019.
This prompted the UN Lesotho to undertake early action to deliver urgent lifesaving multi-sectoral emergency assistance to severely food insecure households and to address the impacts of drought and erratic rainfall that are affecting the population in Mohale’s Hoek, Maseru, Quthing and Qacha’s Nek districts. In January 2019, UN agencies IOM, FAO, UNICEF, UNFPA, WFP and WHO jointly with national partners mobilized USD 5,550,533 from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to address priority humanitarian needs in nutrition; water, sanitation and hygiene; agriculture; food security; health; and protection. Projects funded under this modality ended last week.
Unfortunately, the situation is expected to deteriorate further and around 508,125 (433,410 rural, 74,715 urban) are expected to be severely food insecure between October 2019 and March 2020. All 10 districts are currently converting to Phase 3- of Food Security Integrated Phase Classification. Phase is “Crisis”. We are in dialogue with government to state its position and to act. We call on partners to uphold efforts to respond to the plight of “We the Peoples in Lesotho”.
As I conclude, let me reiterate that SDGs represent the backbone of UN work in Lesotho. I wish to reaffirm our commitment to supporting the country on the long but rewarding journey to development. As we work together, we ought to acknowledge that progress is not as fast as we want it to be. We therefore need to draw lessons from the VNR and other national processes endeavor to work harder, smarter, faster. For his and for more, I wish to reiterate the commitment of the UN Family
Ke leboha haholo!
KHOTSO, PULA, NALA
At this point, let me invite you to view the message of the UN Secretary General on 74th Anniversary of the UN.