Africa-Press – Lesotho. The European Union (EU) has committed to invest €83 million equivalent to M1.4 billion to Lesotho for a period spanning six years. The EU also unveiled its new partnership strategy with Lesotho covering the 2021- 2027
period. This new strategy places premium on the three priority areas, being the green and resilient economy; good governance, peaceful and just society and civil society and support measures. These developments unfolded at the press briefing at the EU Delegation yesterday EU Head of Delegation to Lesotho Paola Amadei said Lesotho’s new strategy is one of the
first to have been adopted continentally, adding that this move bears a testimony to “excellent” relations enjoyed by Lesotho and EU. EU Head of Delegation also took stock of the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine saying
it is an unprovoked attack that undermines the EU efforts for peace, adding that it is violation of UN Charter and makes all UN members vulnerable. She said EU
is extremely concerned about the impact of this war on economy. Since January 24, there has been propaganda and fake news. The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations Hon.
‘Mats’epo Ramakoae said it is regrettable that “we are not in jovious manner” on account of raving
war between Russia-Ukraine. She noted that EU had been a “staunch” supporter of Lesotho. The Minister highlighted the Cotonou Agreement that Lesotho entered into through
EU. Though its timeframe had lapsed in 2021, under this Agreement, Lesotho enjoys and access quota and duty-free access to EU markets to everything but
the arms. Hon. Ramakoae said Lesotho has benefited to the tune of €124 million approximately M2.1 billion and it went towards water and sanitation efforts, social safety nets,
reforms in the justice sector, COVID-19 relief efforts and decentralisation, saying all these are aimed towards delivery. The Minister said Lesotho undertakes needs assessment in line with the areas
flagged in the national strategic planning for the country to come out with these focal areas. Also, the EU was observing the EU Day yesterday. EU Day commemorates the signing ‘Schuman
Declaration’ that was signed on May 9 1950, five years after the end of World War II. ‘Schuman Declaration’ places premium on securing “long-term” peace.
EU-Lesotho Cooperation started since 1976. Some of the achievements noted for this cooperation include contribution to Lesotho Highlands Water Project, water supply networks for Maputsoe, Teya-teyaneng and
Roma. The EU also supported the rehabilitation of waste treatment plant in Maseru in support of about 15 000 rural based households equipped with energy solutions and the
rollout of the nation-wide coverage National Information System for Social Assistance (NISSA), a social security programme that disburse cash transfers during pandemic to about
55 000 households. Also, the National Reforms Authority (NRA), the Authority charged with implementation of
reforms had witnessed the financial and technical support of the EU. The other big project include the launch of LLWDDP-2 for water and sanitation and it is
expected to cover areas of Mafeteng and Mohale’s Hoek. Deputy National Authorising Officer Molise Koto said these sponsorships are dependent on country’s good performance in the achievement and implementation.
The EU Head of Cooperation Mario Varrenti said soil erosion is a challenge confronting Lesotho and is compounded by climate change. He said the resources will be targeted to address energy needs.
Improved energy sector, reliable and affordable clean energy and access to energy services. Varrenti said the governance and social protection strategy covers the national reforms,
better data for policy-making and stronger and efficient social protection. He said EU has made commitment of 35 percent funding aimed at addressing climate change initiatives
and said in Lesotho it is doubled. Asked how EU monitors the funds disbursed he said, they are released on annual basis and they expect annual reports that will be interrogated by EU.
He also said sometimes they can subject reports to independent audits and also they conduct site visits. The Head of Cooperation also noted that they have started in “earnest” the annual programme
strategy that will determine the impact and ground covered in their implementation. Some of the projects are complete while others are to be implemented.