Govt urged to enact pro-poor policies

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Pascalinah Kabi

GOVERNMENT has been called upon to formulate pro-poor policies as encapsulated in the Lesotho National Human Development Report.

Titled “Leveraging the power of youth to promote human development”, the report was launched in Maseru yesterday.

The Lesotho National Human Development report is a flagship publication of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) whose primary purpose is to foster human development globally, to facilitate development of evidence-based and strategic policy options as well as enhancing awareness on human development among policy-makers.

The report indicates that Lesotho has made a significant human development progress in the last 10 years as it is ranked 162 out of 187 countries in the 2014 Adjusted Human Development Index.

The report further indicates that Lesotho has a high proportion of population living in poverty line in its multiple facets as 56.6 percent of people live below population line while 43.4 percent live below (purchasing power-parity) $1.25 (M17) per day.

On health, the report said high HIV/ Aids prevalence (25 percent) and the increasing burden of non-communicable diseases were still a key concern.

“Some progress has been made in immunization rates: 90 percent of one-year-olds have been immunized against measles, but stunting is still high at 33 percent and preventive antiretroviral treatment coverage is 36 percent for all people living with HIV,” reads the report.

The report further also notes the “significant advancements in building basic education capabilities”.

It noted that the adult literacy rate was high at 75.8 percent and net enrolment at primary level was 77.8 percent.

“But quality education is low and transition to tertiary education is even lower especially for low-income households. There are also notable gender disparities in secondary and tertiary education in favour of females in terms of enrolment, transition and cohort survival rates,” reads the report.

“There is high environmental degradation, 66 percent of households living on degraded lands, with high dependence of households, especially in rural areas, on biomass for heating and cooking, due to low access to clean energy.”

The report discovered that 64 percent of Basotho feel unsafe, orphanhood was high and that gender-based violence was increasing.

The report was launched alongside the African Human Development Report 2016 and Global Human Development Report 2015.

In his remarks Ministry of Development Planning Principal Secretary Tlohang Aumane said the reports placed people at the centre of development processes.

“This means that for economic development to occur, it is through the contribution of individuals,” he said.

“In some incidences, economic growth does not automatically translate into human development progress. So reports have highlighted the need for pro-poor policies, investments in capacity building with the focus on education, health, youth and employment.”

He indicated that a lot of work had gone into preparation of the National Human Development Report which was consultative and multisectoral.

The UNDP Deputy Resident Representative Christy Ahenkona said the purpose of the report was to foster the relationship between human development and economic growth.

She said the report was also looking at development through the lense of the growth of humanity rather than the traditional way of measuring development in monetary terms.

Ms Ahenkona also pointed out that UNDP strongly believed that development was human and that the report had gone to the grassroots to focus on the needs and aspirations of the people.

“We therefore cannot talk about sustainable development goals or Africa Agenda 2063 without talking about the youth as a particular group because how we achieve these goals depends on how we can harness the energies of the youth,” Ms Ahenkona said.

She said that the UNDP believed that the report’s findings will feed into the drawing up of the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) II.

Ms Ahenkona said the Vision 2020 and the NSDP recognise the importance of the youth and that looking at the resourcefulness of the youth was important.

“For us in the United Nations, participation is key because we believe that its only if we listen that we engage people right from the beginning and that’s when we can only come up with plans that respond to the needs and aspirations of people,” she said.

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