Wednesday, July 17, 2024
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‘Covid-19 assistance unfairly distributed’


Ntsoaki Motaung

A recent Afrobarometer survey has shown that a majority of Lesotho citizens say the Covid-19 pandemic-related assistance from the government was distributed unfairly, and most think that a lot of the resources intended for the response were lost to corruption.

The survey whose inaugural report was released this week, was done through the National Advision Lesotho (NAL) whose survey data shows the views of Basotho as well as their assessment of the overall response of the country to Covid-19.

According to NAL’s Researcher, Puleng Adams almost half of Basotho approve of the government’s overall response to COVID-19.

She said far fewer give it good marks when it comes to supporting vulnerable households, minimizing disruptions to children’s education, and ensuring that health facilities are adequately resourced.

The National Researcher said about one in seven Basotho (15%) reports that their households received pandemic-related assistance from the government.

“Only a minority (38%) says such assistance was distributed fairly. Three-quarters of citizens believe that a lot (64%) or some (12%) of the resources intended for the Covid-19 response have been lost to corruption,” she said

Adams said Basotho are almost evenly split in their assessments of the government’s overall performance in managing the response to the Covid-19 pandemic, as 46% say it is doing fairly well or very well, while 50% say it is doing a poor job.

She further noted that more than one in three Basotho say their household lost a primary source of income because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but only about one in seven say they received pandemic-related assistance from the government.

She said they also found that most respondents report having been vaccinated against Covid-19, and fewer than one in 10 express a reluctance to accept the vaccine.

“About one in 10 Basotho (11%) say no member of their household became ill with Covid-19 or tested positive for the virus, while more than one-third (37%) say someone in their household lost a job, business, or primary source of income due to the pandemic,” she said.

However, the survey shows that, large majorities are dissatisfied with the government’s efforts to minimise disruptions to children’s education (76%), provide relief to vulnerable households (68%), and ensure that health facilities are adequately resourced (64%).

“More than four in five Basotho (83%) say they have been vaccinated against Covid-19. Vaccine-hesitant respondents most commonly cite concerns that the vaccine may cause Covid-19 or negative side effects (24%) and that the vaccine was developed too quickly (16%),” she said.

Meanwhile, NAL’s Mamello Nkuebe said the Afrobarometer team in Lesotho, led by Advision Lesotho, interviewed a nationally representative sample of 1,200 adult citizens in February to March 2022.

“A sample of this size yields country-level results with a margin of error of plus or minus percentage points at a 95% confidence level,” she said.

The country has been grappling with the pandemic and its impact on the day-to-day living conditions of all its people since it first experimented with the prevalence of the pandemic in 2020. In fact, Lesotho began measures to contain Covid-19 even before May 13, 2020 when the first case of the pandemic was recorded as a nationwide lockdown had been introduced by end of March the same year.

Later a structure mandated with the fight against the pandemic, the National Emergency Command Centre (NECC), was set-up by government. NECC was later disbanded and substituted with the National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC) which managed the affairs around the pandemic, including advising government through the various stages of the national lockdown, until it was also disbanded last month.

Some of the relief initiatives by government to those it felt had been negatively impacted by the pandemic, included, handing out food packages to different sectors of society, a relief fund, introducing the vaccination initiative among others. However, many people still experienced the harsh impacts of the pandemic such as reduced income though salary cuts, missing school by pupils with some cases of lost employment especially in the private sector.

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