Africa-Press – Lesotho. LESOTHO has received a whopping M280 million-grant from the World Bank to help reduce the devastating effects of drought. The grant was recently approved by the World Bank Group’s board of directors.
In a statement this week the World Bank said the “funds will help the Government of Lesotho improve the shock responsive function of its ongoing social assistance programmes as parts of its emergency response to the El Nino drought.
“This additional financing will support the Ministry of Social Development’s use of the social protection system to identify and deliver emergency relief to at least 26 000 poor and vulnerable households,” the bank said.
“It will also help strengthen the long term impacts of social assistance, building on the existing Social Assistance Project, by furthering support to increased enrollment in the National Information System for Social Assistance and the Child Grant Program”.
Ranked amongst the poorest countries in the world, Lesotho is already grappling with the impact of the drought which forced government to declare a state of emergency and scrounge for resources to subsidise basic commodities whose prices had rocketed because of the drought.
The drought came at a time when Lesotho’s food production was on a slide, leaving the majority of the 60 percent its 2 million people who live in rural areas vulnerable. Minister of Social Development, Molahlehi Letlotlo, said the grant would help government provide relief for vulnerable households.
“Through this Additional Financing, the World Bank is supporting the Government’s efforts in providing relief to vulnerable households affected by the current drought, by using the existing systems in place, while also ensuring that the social protection addresses long term vulnerabilities,” Letlotlo said.
The World Bank said the Social Assistance Project which became effective in July 2016 is aimed at improving the efficiency and equity of five of the country’s social assistance programmes.
Such programmes include the Child Grant, the Orphans and Vulnerable Children Bursary Scheme, the Post Primary Bursary, the Public Assistance and the Old Age Pension scheme. The grant is provided through the Crisis Response Window of the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA).
Established in 1960, the IDA helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programmes that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives.
“The additional financing will help ensure that the originally predicted gains from Lesotho Social Assistance Project are not lost due to the impact of the current drought,” the bank said.
“It will also allow the government to design and pilot interventions to strengthen the resilience of poor and vulnerable households.
These interventions will contribute to bridging the gap between social assistance beneficiaries and programmes that help increase productive potential such as those in agriculture and forestry.
Ivan Velev, the World Bank Acting Country Director for Lesotho, said “by seeking to improve the shock-responsive functions of its social protection system, the Government of Lesotho is breaking ground.
“Shock-responsive social protection is a new and promising area which seeks to ensure that social protection systems can be used to provide emergency response, thus ensuring that those in need are reached in an effective and efficient manner,” Velev said.
The bank noted that “the additional financing will also strengthen key aspects of social assistance that make it an effective crisis response mechanism, through reinforcing its tools to identify vulnerable households in times of crisis, improving the efficiency of programmes and payment systems, and establishing explicit linkages with emergency response operations.
The IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 77 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa.
Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.3 billion people who live in IDA countries. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 112 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about US$19 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent going to Africa.