Lesothoâ€™s potential for sustainable development lies within collective efforts, according to the United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator Amanda Khozi Mukwashi.
During the launch of the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework for the years 2024 to 2028 at the â€˜Manthabiseng Convention Centre in Maseru on Wednesday, Mukwashi emphasised the significance of this framework as a guiding instrument to support Lesothoâ€™s development agenda.
COLLECTIVE ACTIONS FOR REMARKABLE OUTCOMES
She said the previous United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) period witnessed fruitful collaboration between the UN Lesotho and the government, leading to remarkable outcomes despite facing major emergencies such as droughts, floods, and the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.
Mukwashi highlighted the joint interventions in critical sectors such as agriculture, food security, social protection, health, nutrition, education, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), which provided much-needed relief and support to affected districts.
â€œIn 2020, the UN repurposed US$9.7 million to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Inclusive of this amount, a total of US25.5 million was mobilised for the UN support to the governmentâ€™s response to the COVID-19 pandemic,â€ she said.
â€œWe have supported Lesotho to address political instability by focusing on root causes through the support of national reforms and support for the peaceful elections of 2022,â€ she added.
She indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic presented unprecedented challenges, particularly in the education sector and said the UN remained steadfast in ensuring continued access to quality education for all.
Through digital platforms, media outreach, and comprehensive safety measures, she said, students across the country were enabled to continue learning even during school closures.
EMBRACING LESOTHOâ€™S POTENTIAL
While acknowledging the achievements, Mukwashi recognised that the work of the UN in Lesotho was far from complete.
She said the nation still grapples with high youth unemployment, gender-based violence, food insecurity, and low human development.
However, she urged all stakeholders to embrace the immense potential that lies within Lesotho and work collectively towards a brighter future.
PRIME MINISTERâ€™S COMMITMENT TO ECONOMIC RECOVERY
Prime Minister Ntsokoane Samuel Matekane also addressed the occasion, emphasising that the UNâ€™s Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework comes at an opportune time when Lesotho faces social and economic challenges, both external and internal in nature.
Matekane acknowledged the fragility of Lesothoâ€™s fiscal position, worsened by the spillover effects of the Russia-Ukraine war, increasing inflation, and a weak exchange rate posing a threat to the countryâ€™s exports.
He further expressed concern about high levels of poverty and youth unemployment contributing to an alarming increase in crime rates.
UPLIFTING THE ECONOMY AND RESTORING DIGNITY
Matekane said the government was committed to uplifting the nation’s economy through private sector development and support, institutional reforms, and an emphasis on achieving the key pillars of the new Cooperation Framework, aligned with the extended National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) II.
Prime Minister Matekane expressed the government’s determination to cut off decay, launch Lesotho onto a new path of economic recovery and national development, and restore the country’s dignity, patriotism, and energy.
â€œAs the government of the day, we are committed to uplift the economy of Lesotho out of the slump, through among other things, private sector development and support,â€ he said.
â€œThe new Cooperation Framework has key pillars that go well with the extended NSDP II and their implementation and achievement will lead to private sector development as a necessary condition for the countryâ€™s development,â€ Matekane added.