WORLD Bank Group has injected US$20 million (M270 million) to assist government to mitigate the effects of the El Nino-induced drought which left more than 600 000 Basotho food insecure.
The World Bank said in a statement yesterday that the M270, 491, 740.84 would help government to improve the shock responsive function of its ongoing social assistance programs which are part of its emergency response to drought.
World Bank Acting Country Director for Lesotho Ivan Velev described shock-responsive social protection as a “new and promising area which seeks to ensure that social protection systems can be used to provide emergency response, thus ensuring that those in need are reached in an effective and efficient manner”.
Development Planning Minister Molahlehi Letlotlo said the money was going to be used to top-up cash grants to social protection programme beneficiaries by a maximum of M600.
“Our social protection programme is not covering the whole country and we are going to increase the number by 6500 per year in three years,” Mr Letlotlo told the Lesotho Times yesterday.
He said they would also use the money for livelihood improvement projects after realising that the cash grants only addressed the immediate needs not the root issues at the heart of the poverty problem.
He said they would identify three villages for the pilot programme ahead of launching next year.
For her part, World Bank Lesotho Communications Specialist Elita Banda said the additional financing would support the Social Development Ministry in its use of the social protection system to identify and deliver emergency relief to at least 26 000 poor and vulnerable households.
“The funds will also help strengthen the long term impacts of social assistance, building on the existing social assistance project, by furthering support to increased enrollment in the National Information System for Social Assistance and the Child Grant Program,” Ms Banda said.
“Provided through the Crisis Response Window of the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), the additional financing will help ensure that the originally predicted gains from Lesotho Social Assistance Project are not lost due to the impact of the current drought.
“It will also allow the government to design and pilot interventions to strengthen the resilience of poor and vulnerable households.”
She said these interventions would contribute to bridging the gap between social assistance beneficiaries and programmes that help increase productive potential such as those in agriculture and forestry.
The social assistance project was launched in July 2016 with the aim of improving the efficiency and equity of five of the country’s social assistance programmes – Child Grand, Orphans and Vulnerable Children Bursary Scheme, Post Primary Bursary, Public Assistance Programme and Old Age Pension Scheme.
Ms Banda said the additional financing would also strengthen key aspects of social assistance that make it an effective crisis response mechanism.
She said this mechanism would be strengthened through reinforcing tools to identify vulnerable households in times of crisis, improving the efficiency of programs and payment systems, and establishing explicit linkages with emergency response operations.