European Union (EU), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Ministry of Social Development officials visited Nyokosoba last weekto meet beneficiaries of the Child Grants Programme (CGP).
The delegation also wanted to observe the last stage of the grants disbursement, which is the payment process.
The grants, which are provided by government on a quarterly basis, are meant to supplement the income of poor households caring for orphaned and vulnerable children. The money is also given to child-headed households and the whole programme is designed to improve children’s living conditions, ensure access to medical services and nutritious food, increase school-attendance, and reduce abuse and exploitation.
The grants began with financial support by the EU and technical assistance from UNICEF in 2008, but were completely taken over by government in 2013.
A family with one and two needy children gets M350 over three months, while the money increases to M600 and M750 for those with three and four or more children, respectively.
EU Ambassador to Lesotho Dr Michael Doyle hailed the grants, which he said had improved the lives of needy members of society.
“We are glad to be witnessing the payment of the grants to 450 families of Likolobeng Community Council where about 1300 children will directly benefit from the cash.
“The CGP has now become a reliable source of income that complements the livelihoods of selected vulnerable families,” Dr Doyle said.
“Some 25 000 households comprising 65 000 children currently benefit from theentire grantsprogramme.”
Meanwhile, the CGP has grown dramaticallyfrom six to 43 out of 67 community councils countrywide. The programme is earmarked to cover the entire country in future.
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UNICEF Representative Dr Tesfaye Shiferaw, who spoke during Thursday’s visit to Likolobeng Community Council Payment Site in Nyokosoba, said the grants were initiated to address poverty, which appeared to be the biggest challenge in Lesotho at the time.
“Although the money does not address the children’s entire needs, it is still making a difference in their lives.
“We will always be here so that we can eliminate or reduce poverty among communities,” Dr Shiferaw said.
On her part, Ministry of Social Development Principal Secretary Ms Limakatso Chisepo appealed to those who receive payments on behalf of the children to be trustworthy and use the money for its intended purpose.
“This money does not fall from heaven so you must avoid giving it names and use it wisely and for the benefit of the children.
“Anyone who sees the money being abused should report such action to the authorities because it is meant for the sole benefit of these needy children,” Ms Chisepo said.