Lesotho, 3 October 2013: UNICEF welcomes Lesotho’s expansion of child grants
Thaba-Tseka, Lesotho, 3 October - UNICEF today welcomed the announcement by the Government of Lesotho to incorporate a child cash grant into its larger social protection agenda, and to increase the number of orphans and vulnerable children who benefit from it.
Initiated by UNICEF with funding provided by the European Union, the child cash grant seeks to improve the lives of the most disadvantaged children in a country that has been devastated by the HIV pandemic and widespread poverty. Under the scheme, a small amount of cash is provided to qualified households every three months, allowing them to buy food and meet their children’s basic health and educational needs. Since 2009, the number of children reached has expanded from 5000 to almost 50,000, with many of them from child-headed households or living with elderly grandparents.
“This is a significant and welcome decision. It demonstrates the Government’s commitment to the rights and welfare of all the country’s children to ensure that the poorest and most vulnerable are included in the country’s development,” said Steven Allen, UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa. “Experience has taught us that building a national social protection scheme is critical to protect the poorest children from deprivations and help them access education and health services that they are entitled to.”
The grant has proven to not only improve the lives of those who directly benefit, but also non-beneficiaries and wider community. A research conducted by the UN shows that for each 1 Maloti invested, a multiplying effect of 2.23 is created in the local economy. Children covered under the scheme also receive regular visits from community social workers, who provide them with emotional and physical support.
The collaboration among the Government, UNICEF and the EU has contributed to capacity building of the Ministry of Social Development, which has become fully capable today of managing the child grant, with little support from UNICEF and other partners. Information and communication technology has also been boosted along the way, and the delivery of the grant is now done with the aid of mobile phones. At the same time, the National Information System for Social Assistance (NISSA) has grown to store vital socio and economic information of half a million Basotho, enabling it to be better positioned to respond to the needs of the most vulnerable children and families.
As part of the announcement today, UNICEF also urged the Government to continue its investment in building the capacity of the Ministry of Social Development and other intervening agencies, as well as continued investment its National Information System for Social Assistance. UNICEF called for the Government to finalize the Social Protection Policy and Strategy, which will help coordinate efforts among different stakeholders, integrate social safety net schemes, and improve efficiency and effectiveness of resources invested in social protection.
For more information, please contact:
Malume Mohale, UNICEF Lesotho, phone: +266 22315801; cell: +266 58604840; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Shantha Bloemen, UNICEF Africa Service Unit, South Africa, phone: +27 (0) 11 5171617; cell: +27 (0) 79 495 5938; e-mail: email@example.com
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