Lesotho MDGs off target

MASERU — Finance Minister Timothy Thahane says the government is unlikely to meet its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.

Addressing parliament during the 2011/12 budget speech, Thahane pointed out that the main constraint to the achievement of some of the MDGs is lack of resources and weak implementation capacity.

Thahane indicated that the goals to reduce child mortality in children under the age of five by two-thirds and that of reducing maternal mortality rate by three quarters between 1990 and 2015 will “most likely remain unmet”.

Also data collected indicates that the eradication of extreme hunger and poverty will not be met, Thahane said.

He said that the little gains that Lesotho had made in achieving the MDGs had been reversed by the effects of the global economic and financial crisis.

High prices of food and fuel during the pre-crisis period have pushed those goals beyond Lesotho’s reach.

“This has halted the progress the government has been making towards the attainment of some MDGs. It has put some MDGs off-track,” Thahane said.   

He said despite massive efforts by the government and development partners, progress in combating HIV, TB and related diseases through universal access to care and treatment has been slow to come.

Incidences of TB remain high despite massive investment in treatment and prevention.

He said the government’s “challenge is to double efforts in implementing current programmes” if the other MDGs ensuring environmental sustainability by 2015 are to be met.

Thahane is however confident that by 2015 Lesotho will have met other two MDGs of universal access to primary education for both boys and girls and the elimination of gender discrimination and inequality.

He however pointed out that more efforts will have to be devoted to the elimination of gender discrimination and inequality if the present momentum is to be sustained.

Extreme hunger and poverty is one of the major problems that Lesotho is facing.

A 2009 Actionaid Hunger Free report says Lesotho was the only country in the Southern Africa region which had increasing rate of hunger in 2009.

The report said Lesotho was unfortunate to receive rains late.

As a result there was a 10 percent drop in maize production which had tragic consequences because it pushed an additional 100 000 people into hunger and drove the number of people without access to adequate food to nearly half a million.

About 42 percent of the country’s children under the age of five are suffering from chronic malnutrition, the report said.

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