LEBAKENG — The government, in collaboration with the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), handed out food and cash grants to 250 families in Lebakeng, Qacha’s Nek, on Wednesday.
The grants were made under the Lesotho Child Grant Programme which was launched in April.
The programme seeks to assist vulnerable households in Lesotho.
Each family was given M1 080 because they were supposed to have started getting the grants in April.
Each family under the programme is supposed to receive M360 quarterly.
Speaking at the Lebakeng ceremony, Unicef’s representative in Lesotho, Ahmed Magan, said there were thousands of orphaned and vulnerable children in need of assistance and protection in Lesotho.
He said economic problems made the needs of vulnerable children even more urgent.
Magan said the grants will help children to meet their very basic needs.
He said the scourge of poverty, food insecurity and HIV and Aids was hitting hard children, families and communities.
“On their own, these calamities can push poor families to the edge,” Magan said.
“As you might know, this year marks the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and enacting the Child Protection and Welfare Bill can be the greatest gift for the children of Lesotho.”
Health and Social Welfare Minister Mphu Ramatlapeng said the programme was meant for the needy, child-headed households and chronically ill people.
“The grant is meant to benefit the disadvantaged people, not anyone else,” she said.
Ramatlapeng said the grant will help the children where there is no free education to pay their school fees.
She said they had implemented the project in Mathula (Mafeteng), Thaba-Khubelu (Qacha’s Nek) and Semonkong (Maseru).
She said they chose the three areas because they are the most vulnerable places.
“The government is willing to help 60 000 children with the grants, counselling and making sure that each and every child attends school,” she said.
Head of delegation and EU Ambassador to Lesotho, Peter Christiansen, said the old adage that “a long journey starts with a small step” was very appropriate for the Child Grant Programme.
Christiansen said the future of Lesotho depended on how parents treated their children.
“May the adults of the Lesotho nation have the energy, desire and will to change their behaviour to avoid more orphans,” he said.