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Lesotho moves to formalise slums and strengthens housing

Staff Reporter

The long-awaited National Housing Policy is the country’s road map towards developed settlements and housing in Lesotho.

With Lesotho facing a serious challenge of increasing disorderly human settlements which translates into slums despite the country’s existing policies, laws, and governance, the answer to housing problems lies in the implementation of the policy.

This was highlighted by the Principal Secretary (PS) of the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftainship, Lefu Manyokole, during the drafting of the National Slum Upgrading and Prevention Strategy and the National Housing Policy meeting.

He said the meeting was a step towards the implementation of objective four of the housing policy aimed at improving infrastructure provision in informal settlements by developing the National Slum Upgrading and Prevention Strategy.

He said the strategies would facilitate the realisation of the right to secure tenure, the right to basic services, the right to adequate housing, and an adequate standard of living.

During the meeting, the draft strategy was reviewed and possible solutions in alignment with the local and international best practices for adequate housing were discussed.

“This is a highly participatory process and it is key for planning human settlements and cities that work for everyone, making them inclusive and sustainable,” Manyokole explained.

He, therefore, urged participants to focus on discussing proposed strategies for slum and informal settlements upgrading and prevention.

He said for them to achieve the goals and objectives of the National Housing Policy and the National Slum Upgrading and Prevention Strategy, Lesotho needs adequate and consistent resources both financially and technically.

He said in the next 10 years, they would need to re-dedicate themselves to the wider vision of the National Housing Policy which envisages a country in which every Mosotho has equal access to safe, affordable, and adequate housing.

Manyokole also indicated that the aim is to improve and strengthen their delivery on the ground and find innovative ways to carry out strategies as proposed in the National Slum Upgrading and Prevention Strategy leading to the development of the City-Wide Slum Upgrading and Prevention Action Plan.

He further mentioned that the strategies will facilitate the realisation of the right to secure tenure, the right to basic services, the right to adequate housing, and an adequate standard of living.

However, he noted that the existing policies and laws of governance are not responsive to the needs of the local communities, therefore, noted that responsive policies, legal frameworks and effective institutions are needed to support and lead Lesotho to formal settlement and upgrading adequate housing for all.

“The UN-Habitat and the government of Lesotho recognised the need to upgrade and prevent slums and informal settlements to promote sustainable human settlements and urban development, reduce poverty and improve livelihoods through the Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme.

“And in line with the localisation of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), the implementation of the New Urban Agenda and the National Housing Policy all to achieve the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development,” he said.

In conclusion, he expressed gratitude for the support they receive from the European Commission, the Organization of Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific States (OACP the UN-Habitat) and the government of Lesotho.

Motšeoa Koali at the same meeting said the Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme (PSUP) aligns with SDG Agenda 30 which envisions making more cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, saying target 11.1 among other attempts to ensure access to all safe and affordable housing basic service and upgrade slums.

Koali said PSUP promotes planned development and enhances the aesthetics of the country thus alleviating potential hazards such as fire and substandard housing.

She added that the strategic objectives for slum upgrading are to review the existing planning and development control regulations to current use and operationalise public participation as envisioned in the Town and Country Planning Bill.

On the same note, ‘Mantsane Matekane said Land Act 2010, Decentralisation Policy 2014, National Housing Policy 2018 and Lesotho Vision 2020 are some of the country’s policies and programmes that are related to the upgrading of slums.

Matekane said these policies were implemented to improve land management and institutional capacity for human settlement and urban development, further saying these policies promote innovation and cost-effective technologies in the built environment.

The Land Use Planning Unit (LSPP) Physical Planner, Matšeliso Thobeli, said to have development control and formal settlement there must be decentralisation of finances to the urban councils, saying this will allow the urban councils to provide development control services.

Thobeli further mentioned that without the allocation of funds to urban councils, there won’t be the execution of development projects in these councils hence slums and informal settlements will increase.

She said to achieve development control, there is a need for the establishment of a National Planning Commission, saying this will help the government to implement policies relating to development control.

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