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EU in M65 million boost for civil service

Mohalenyane Phakela

THE European Union and the Ministry of Finance have signed an agreement that will facilitate the provision of M65 million (4.5 million Euros) aimed at supporting the work of the civil society in Lesotho.

Minister of Finance, Moeketsi Majoro and the EU Ambassador to Lesotho Christian Manahl, last Friday, unveiled the agreement that will see the civil society benefitting from funding released through the European Development Fund (EFD).

The event was graced by senior government officials; the EU delegation to Lesotho; and the Lesotho Council of NGOs (LCN) Executive Director, Seabata Motsamai.

EDF is a European Union grant targeting projects aimed at promoting economic, cultural and social development in the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.

It facilitates activities that seek to strengthen peace and security and to promote a stable and democratic political environment.

The 11th EDF was launched in 2014, during when Lesotho received EUR 127 million, expected to last through 2020.

According to EU’s Programme Manager for Governance, Mariam Homayoun, the EU has been supporting civil society since 2011, having realised the important role they play in communities.

“EU regards civil society as an important ingredient and a voice for the society in general as they are able to address issues that concern different communities at grassroot level and working in parallel with the government,” Ms Homayoun said.

She said they started working with LCN in 2011 and have so far provided support in three projects.

“Through this EUR 4.5 million, LCN will get EUR 1.5 millio (around M22 million) to help them concentrate on their mandate of coordination, democracy and the burning issue of national reforms. We do not want them to fight grants with NGOs affiliated to LCN.”

Ms Homayoun encouraged NGOs working in the grant focus areas to send their proposals to the EU, which will allocate funds.

On his part, EU Ambassador, Dr Manahl said the EU recognises the important role played by the LCN in empowering communities, particularly those in the districts outside Maseru.

“We recognize that providing a voice to the poor and the marginalized groups, is an important role that is often performed by active and accountable civil society organisations.

“Over the past three years, through the EU support, LCN has worked hard to ignite the role of civil societies in Lesotho. Through their work, they have also become important stakeholders in development,” he said.

Also speaking at the signing ceremony, Dr Majoro commended the civil society, saying they play an important role in the development of any country. In Lesotho, in particular, he said, LCN has remained committed to supporting good governance and ensuring political stability.

“Through this support, the civil society organisations’ capacity will be strengthened to ensure accountability of public institutions, in addition to their ability to provide outreach, advocacy and other support to promote good governance,” he said.

“This fund is expected to contribute to the promotion of peace, democratic governance and building effective institutions. It will further enhance the role of LCN to coordinate civil society activities in Lesotho and increase the capacity of its members to deliver their mandates.”

Dr Majoro also mentioned that his ministry has a National Authorization office which will monitor as to whether the funds received served their purpose. He emphasised the importance of all NGOs to file a report detailing their activities to enable access of funding in future.

The LCN executive director, Mr Motsamai thanked the EU for their support, saying the financial boost will not only offer institutional support to LCN but also help it to effectively partake in national reforms process, while the capacity of NGOs to address various challenges in the country will also be strengthened.

 

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