Speech of the UN Resident Coordinator at the Donor Round Table Meeting
Your Excellencies, High Commissioners, Ambassadors and Heads of Mission;
Dear Development Partners;
The Resident Coordinator a.i. and UNCT, South Africa;
Regional Directors of UN organizations;
Colleagues in the UN system,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
My name is Salvator Niyonzima. I am the UN Resident Coordinator for Lesotho. On behalf of the UN Country Team in Lesotho, I am very pleased to welcome you to this Donor Round Table. At the outset, I wish to thank you very much for being here with us today. I also thank you for the already existing collaboration between us. I have had the honor of meeting some of you during your visits to Lesotho. This Round Table is dedicated to Sustainable Development in Lesotho. As United Nations, we have come to you to strengthen existing partnerships and lay the foundation for new ones as we all seek to support Sustainable Development in Lesotho. We have come to you because we know Lesotho development matters to you, just as it does to us. Many of you here represent UN Member States so you may be familiar with the UN Reform agenda to increase efficiency and effectiveness in the organization. We have come to you as a team in the spirit of UN Reform. The fact that we are joined by UNCT South Africa and our colleagues from UN regional offices is testimony to visible efforts to improve coherence in the organization. I use this opportunity to thank our UN colleagues for their support: UNCT South Africa, Regional Directors and technical adviser and my colleagues from Ls.
The overall purpose of this meeting is to engage dialogue around Lesotho’s development and humanitarian challenges, how we work on them as United Nations and what we can do together to help the country to address them. So the agenda for this morning has been structured around that: we will share a snapshot of our cooperation framework which articulates the connection between development and humanitarian action; we will zoom into the current humanitarian situation to highlight the urgency; and we will open the dialogue.
I will not introduce The Kingdom in the Sky to you because you know the country. In the interest of time, I will simply sketch a very broad picture to provide context. Out of the 2 million of Basotho, 57.9% live in the northern and southern; nearly half of them are under the age of 18. Unemployment is 32.8% and 2.6% live with disabilities. Nationally, 63% of households are female-headed. The number of Basotho living under the poverty line decreased from 57.1% in 2011 to 49.5% in 2017/18 but it remains very high.
On the health side, HIV and TB remain the biggest challenges. HIV prevalence among adults 15-59 is 25.6% and incidence is 1.10% per year. Adolescent girls and young women are 15 times more likely to get HIV than adolescent boys. TB incidence rate is estimated at 665/100 000 resulting in 70% TB/HIV co-morbidity. This picture is compounded by the increasing incidence of non-communicable diseases. It is therefore urgent to increase resource efficiency and to build resilient and sustainable health systems as well as nutrition programmes to improve health of the population.
Migration. Lesotho has great potential to positively transform human lives and communities through migration. However, if human mobility is not well managed, the country could face negative impacts including the migration of highly skilled Basotho or “brain drain”. According to the 2019 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Global Report by US Department of State, Lesotho was downgraded from ‘’Tier 2’’ to ‘’Tier 2 Watch list’’ meaning that Government of Lesotho needs to make significant efforts to fight against this crime. In the current drought situation, an increasing number of individuals migrate to South Africa ‘’out of desperation’’ or ‘’out of choice’’. An increasing number of people travel without proper documents and get exposed exploitation, abuse, and human trafficking. The UN supports government in strengthening border and immigration management, advocating for continuity of care, such as HIV services and ART for all migrants, combating human trafficking and enhancing migration governance.
1. Lesotho has achieved net enrolment rate in primary education of almost 90% for girls and boys. However, only 70% of students joining primary education complete the last grade and enrolment in pre-school is still only 42%. Significant challenges persist with quality of education and relevance which is linked to high youth unemployment at 43%. Significant Investment is required to improve education and skills base and deal with brain drain.
2. Lesotho is experiencing a triple burden of malnutrition—under-nutrition, over-nutrition, and micronutrient deficiency across all age groups. Food insecurity and malnutrition remain very significant challenges and are important obstacles to country’s development. As you may have heard, Lesotho has held regular democratic elections since independence with variables fortunes. In recent years, Lesotho has experienced political instability emanating from fractious coalition governments. This has disrupted the economy and developmental trajectory. However, the country has embarked on a national dialogue to build consensus on reforms aimed at improving peace and stability.
Environment, Agriculture. Lesotho has extreme climatic conditions characterized by droughts and other natural hazards having significant implications for health, agriculture, food security, poverty and vulnerability. For a country where 70% of the population depend on agriculture and given the economic importance of the unique bio-diversity, including water, climate change is one of the major sources of vulnerability.
UN Development Cooperation Framework. To support development and resilience building, the United Nations developed a cooperation framework for the period 2019-2023. The UN development Assistance Framework as we call it is in line with the National Strategic Development Plan II and the National Resilience Framework. They both take root in the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union Vision 2063. Our cooperation framework has three pillars:
Accountable Governance, Effective Institutions, Social Cohesion and Inclusion;
II.Sustainable Human Capital Development and,
Sustainable and Inclusive Economic Growth for Poverty Reduction.
The estimated total investment of the UNDAF stands at USD 256 million. Out of this amount, USD 159 million are expected to be available through agencies’ regular budget. The gap to be mobilized is USD 97 million.
Based on experience, the current UN cooperation framework recognizes the need to bridge the gap between Humanitarian, Development, and Peace. A holistic approach in disaster risk reduction, emergency preparedness and response require adequate long-term investments to strengthen resilience and enhance sustainability. To shape our dialogue, a summary of the three pillars will be given to you shortly and you can get more details form your information package.
In June 2018 Lesotho Vulnerability Assessment Committee (LVAC) estimated that over 308,966 Basotho needed food assistance from October 2018- February 2019. Based on that, UN Lesotho undertook 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 affected the population in four districts.
This prompted the UN agencies IOM, FAO, UNICEF, UNFPA, WFP and WHO jointly with national partners to mobilize USD 5.5 million through the UN Central Emergency Response Fund to address priority humanitarian needs in nutrition; water, sanitation and hygiene; agriculture; food security; health; and protection for the period of January-October 2019. As we speak today, all projects funded by this facility have been completed and a total of 295,486 beneficiaries have been reached.
Unfortunately, the situation has been deteriorating like in many countries in the region. As a result, LVAC June 2019 data estimated that 508,125 people (433,410 rural, 74,715 urban) are severely food insecure between October 2019 and March 2020. Simply put, this represents 25% of the total population of Lesotho in food insecurity. We will hear more details shortly. The UN has been closely monitoring the situation and has supported the Government in developing the National Drought Emergency Response Plan.
Considering the above, the Government of Lesotho declared a state of drought emergency on 30th October 2019. It expressed concern and called on Development Partners and friends to assist. As United Nations, we recognize that urgent humanitarian action is necessary to prevent human suffering. We need your partnership and support to make it happen.
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
As I conclude, allow me to reiterate our gratitude for your presence. Special thanks to the Ambassadors who have joined us, including H.E. Lei Kezhong, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China who traveled all the way from Lesotho. We want your partnership, we seek your support. Tell us what you think, indicate your interest and, together, let’s support sustainable development in Lesotho.