Call for unified social safety net scheme

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European Union (EU) Ambassador Dr Michael Doyle
European Union (EU) Ambassador Dr Michael Doyle

Limpho Sello

EUROPEAN Union (EU) Ambassador to Lesotho Dr Michael Doyle has urged the government to create a unified social safety net scheme to improve monitoring and coordination of various programmes.

Dr Doyle made the remark on Monday during the launch of the Emergency Cash Transfer in Mapoteng, Berea.

During the launch ceremony, 998 beneficiaries of the Child Grants Programme (CGP) received a top up of M500 to buffer them from the effects of the El Nino-induced drought courtesy of the United Nations (UN) Central Emergency Response Fund.

CGPs, 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 families also received home gardening kits from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) which included a shade net, home gardening training materials in Sesotho and six types of vegetable seeds.

Dr Doyle said the beneficiaries were selected through the National Information System for Social Assistance (NISSA).

“NISSA was startedback in 2009 as a pilot during the first phase of EU support to social protection,” he said.

“It started as a paper-based tool, with forms that were used for collection of socio-economic information at household level.”

Dr Doyle said NISSA contained data on 120 000 households categorized by four categories of vulnerability.

“These represent about 600 000 individuals in 38 community councils in all the 10 districts, or more than a quarter of all Basotho,” he said.

“The development of a national registry in Lesotho with a single database in which information on all potential households and individuals eligible for social protection interventions can be securely stored is a prerequisite for a strong system.”

The ambassador also explained that NISSA improved the time for implementation and eased the future programming of social expenditure.

“We encourage the government to use NISSA to plan towards a unified social safety net scheme (SSN). The current pilot SSN will hopefully be institutionalized and expanded into a unified system where at least three cash transfers (CGP, Public Assistance and OVC Bursary) will be included during this third and last phase of EU support for social protection,” said Dr Doyle.

FAO Representative, Yves Klompenhouwer, said they distributed home gardening kits tocomplimentthe CGP as 90 percent of rural households in Lesotho had a garden plot.

He said FAO Lesotho would distribute 21 000 home gardening kits in 2016 to CGP recipients, adding that 5 000 of the kits would be distributed next month.

For his part, Social Development Minister Molahlehi Letlotlo warned the beneficiaries that the grantwould not lastforever and urgedthem to come up with income-generating projects for their sustenance.

He also called on the recipients to make full use of the home gardening kits and funding, adding that they would return to assess whether they have served the intended purpose.

“We are going to come back here again to see if you are fully utilizing the kits and whether the cash you were given is used to address the children’s needs,” MrLetlotlo said.

“In the past, we were not making follow-ups, but now we will definitely return. Those people who abuse the money or receive it when they don’t qualify are going to be in big trouble because that, on its own, is a crime.”

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