Humanitarian Action Report 2007 - Homepage

ESARO LETHOSO

CRITICAL ISSUES FOR CHILDREN

The AIDS epidemic, poverty and drought are the underlying factors behind the current complex humanitarian crisis in southern Africa: Lesotho is one of the six affected countries in the sub-region. The estimated number of vulnerable people in need of emergency food aid rose from 448,000 to nearly 700,000 or one-third of the population between 2002 and 2004. Poverty has increased significantly, while many of the gains made in the 1980s in improving children’s access to quality social services have been reversed. The national HIV seroprevalence of 23.2 per cent among adults is the third highest in the world. With the threat of influenza virus H5N1 looming in other parts of the world, Lesotho is at risk of double impact: the high HIV prevalence makes many Basotho susceptible to a rapid progression of the virus in an event of Avian Influenza breaking out in the country, and poultry is one of the main commodities that the country uses in daily diet.

The country is also confronted by an increasing number of orphans, estimated at 180,000 in 2005, with some 30 per cent of them estimated to be out of school. Many orphans are forced to undertake some of the most hazardous forms of labour in order to survive, including herding, domestic work or commercial sex. This is particularly so due to the lack of an appropriate policy and legislative framework specifically addressing their rights to access services and entitlements, such as health and basic education, in the absence of parents and primary caregivers.

PLANNED HUMANITARIAN ACTION FOR 2007

Health and nutrition (Avian Influenza): Targeting 10,000 mothers and children, UNICEF will contribute to the country’s immediate response promoting preventive measures, launching social mobilization campaign, producing and distributing information, education and communication materials, as well as ensuring the availability of the required medical care to the affected mothers and children. The following medical supplies will be pre-positioned during the emergency preparedness phase: medical supplies; antibiotics, antipyretics, personal protective supplies/equipment for frontline workers and masks for patients; related vaccines and antiviral drugs. UNICEF will also contribute to the overall coordination mechanism in response to the outbreak providing technical expertise and supporting capacity-building activities.

Child protection: While continuing to support the formulation and enactment of the requisite legal and policy frameworks to ensure universal access to basic education, UNICEF also collaborates with the Lesotho Distance Teacher Centre (LDTC) and NGOs to reach vulnerable groups, such as herd boys, with non-formal education which also includes information on HIV/AIDS prevention and life skills. Given unpredictable weather conditions, in case of an emergency related to climatic factors, UNICEF would wish to target this group of children and youth working through the Lesotho Distance Teacher Centre (LDTC), NGOs and the District Administrators’ Offices in the 10 districts. Benefiting 5,000 herd boys in 10 districts, UNICEF will procure and distribute blankets; raincoats and gum boots; wind-up radios; torches and batteries; candles and matches; and literacy kits containing hygiene equipment.

Summary of UNICEF financial needs for 2007

Sector

US$

Health and nutrition (Avian Influenza)

  50,000

Child protection

562,700

Total*

612,700

* The total includes a maximum recovery rate of 7 per cent. The actual recovery rate on contributions will be calculated in accordance with UNICEF Executive Board Decision 2006/7 dated 9 June 2006.