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Civil society blames govt over MDGs debacle

Limpho Sello

Minister of Development Planning Moeketsi Majoro (left) and United Nations Resident Coordinator Karla Hershey at the launch of Lesotho’s 2013 MDGs Status Report on Wednesday.
Minister of Development Planning Moeketsi Majoro (left) and United Nations Resident Coordinator Karla Hershey at the launch of Lesotho’s 2013 MDGs Status Report on Wednesday.

Lack of coordination between the government, civil society and other sectors of the economy, and failure to domesticate the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have been cited as the major reasons why Lesotho would not be meeting all the eight MDGs by the 2015 deadline.

This was the damning verdict which emerged during last Thursday’s meeting organised by the Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (LCN) for its affiliates in Maseru, to discuss the country’s development plans after 2015, as well as the nation’s failure to meet all its MDGs.

The meeting — attended by representatives from organisations such as the Lesotho Red Cross, Lesotho National Federation of Organisations of the Disabled (LNFOD), and Lesotho Environmental Justice and Advocacy Centre (LEJAC) — was hosted in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and sought to put appropriate development mechanisms in place for the post-2015 era.
The LCN’s Health and Social Development Coordinator, ‘Mamathule Makhotla, said the purpose of the dialogue was to brainstorm the reason behind the MDGs failure and suggest solutions, and then engage the private sector and government representatives the following day to share their recommendations and explore the issue further.

The meeting, Ms Makhotla added, was prompted by last Wednesday’s announcement by government and the United Nations that Lesotho was not going to meet four of the eight MDGs.
The MDGs are eight international development goals established following the 2000 United Nations (UN) Millennium Summit held in New York, which each member-country is supposed to have achieved by 2015.
The goals, namely to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender-equality and empower women; reduce child-mortality; improve maternal-health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability and develop a global partnership for development, were derived from the UN Millennium Declaration.

The Declaration proclaimed that every individual has the right to freedom, equality, a basic standard of living that includes freedom from hunger and violence and encourages tolerance and solidarity.
However, speaking during Wednesday’s ceremony to launch Lesotho’s 2013 MDGs Status Report, Prime Minister Thomas Thabane said it was worrying that the country was off-track on at-least four of the MDGs.
“I observe with dissatisfaction that we are off-track in the four goals to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger (MDG 1), reduce child-mortality (MDG4), improve maternal health (MDG5) and combating HIV and AIDS and tuberculosis (MDG6),” Dr Thabane said.

“HIV and AIDS infections, high mother and child mortality, high rates of stunting in children under five years of age, pervasive hunger and poverty, high inequality and unemployment have worked together to impede efforts to improve the lives of Basotho and reduce vulnerability at household level.”
According to Ms Makhotla, it was this announcement that prompted Thursday’s meeting.

“We have realised that Lesotho is not doing as well as other countries as far as the MDGs are concerned, which is why we are here today to discuss what could have led to this poor performance and suggest solutions.
“We have also realised that Lesotho didn’t perform well because there was no participation of civil society and clear involvement of other sectors, regarding the MDGs,” Ms Makhotla said.
“Today, discussions are based on what could be the means of implementation, resources and capabilities.

“The views that will emerge today will then be compiled and presented to the government tomorrow, and it is our expectation that they would then be implemented going forward.
“Such dialogues and meetings must be held from time to time to always share ideas.”

Meanwhile, delegates to Thursday’s meeting also suggested the reason why Lesotho had failed to meet some of its targets was because the MDGs were more “a global agenda” and not domesticated.
The Lesotho Red Cross Programmes Director, ‘Matšepo Moletsane, on her part, said her organisation was still focussed on the MDGs although there was no clear coordination with the government.
“I admit there was a serious problem when we saw lack of coordination between civil society and government, which I think somehow contributed to the poor performance,” Ms Moletsane said.
“Take the National Aids Commission for instance.

“During its full operation in the districts, it was very easy to access information as it was a coordinating body between government and civil society regarding HIV.
“However, its closure (in December 2011) impacted badly on the work of stakeholders in the fight against HIV.”

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