EU, UNICEF hand over vehicles worth M4m
AS part of efforts to equip the Ministry of Social Development (MoSD) to implement its social protection strategy, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), with financial support from the European Union (EU), handed over 10 Toyota 4X4 trucks and 34 Honda motorbikes with protective kits at the Ministry of Health Auditorium in Maseru on Tuesday.
According to UNICEF Representative to Lesotho, Tesfaye Shiferaw, the consignment, worth M4 292 087, is meant to strengthen operational capacities of district councils where Child Grant Programmes (CGP) and other social protection interventions are being implemented under the auspices of the MoSD.
CGP is meant to improve the living standards of orphans and vulnerable children by reducing malnutrition, improving their health status and increase school enrolment.
“These assets will contribute to the timely delivery as well as quality insurance and monitoring of social protection interventions,” said Dr Shiferaw, adding that the modalities of the vehicles’ utilisation had already been agreed on.
“We are very thankful to the European Union for their continued support in the development and expansion of Social Protection in Lesotho.
“We hope the transport assets will be used by the MoSD structures for the agreed purpose and achieve the planned results.”
He paid tribute to the government of Lesotho for recognising the value of social protection by allocating nine percent of its gross domestic product to the sector “compared to the one to two percent in neighbouring countries”.
Dr Shiferaw also emphasised the need for MoSD to engage with other line ministries as well as to set up social protection sector coordination mechanisms.
In his remarks, EU Ambassador Michael Doyle lauded the “strong tripartite collaborative partnership” between the bloc, MoSD and UNICEF.
“The government honoured its commitment to take over 100 percent of the financing of the CGP starting from the fiscal year 2013/2014, when an amount of M36 million was committed from the national budget to fund the initiative,” said Ambassador Doyle, who also noted that about 80 000 children had already benefited from the programme.
“The government’s taking full ownership of the programme indeed ensures a sustainable approach, which is a real achievement that deserves to be recognised and applauded.
“UNICEF, as the implementing partner, has contributed immensely to this achievement.”
He added that the vehicles would be distributed to the country’s 10 districts.
“The vehicles and motorbikes handed over today will help to enhance efforts to support the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of social protection programmes in Lesotho, especially as we enter Phase III of the EU support to social protection in Lesotho,” Ambassador Doyle said.
On his part, Social Development Minister Molahlehi Letlotlo said the EU and UNICEF recognised the need to replace the 12 V8 Land Cruisers they had previously donated as they were now “old and too expensive to maintain”.
“We are immeasurably grateful. This support will go a long way and continue to mark the presence of the Ministry in the remotest areas,” said Mr Letlotlo.
“The officers will have no excuse not to have reached all clients that require services.”
The minister also reassured the EU and UNICEF representatives that the vehicles would serve the purpose for which they were intended. “We promise to take good care of them. This is evidenced by our having ensured that the drivers who will use them undergo defensive training and are qualified and competent to make the best use of these vehicles,” he said.