Ntsebeng Motsoeli, Bereng Mpaki
THE European Union (EU) has pledged M760 million funding to Lesotho towards the Integrated Catchment Management (ICM) project, the Participatory Initiative for Social Accountability (PISA) project and the Technical Cooperation Facility V (TCF V).
The singing of the three financing agreements was done by Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro, Water Minister Samonyane Ntsekele and EU’ head of delegation to Lesotho, Christian Manahl last Friday.
The ICM project is aimed at combating land degradation and depletion of water resources in the country. Total support towards this project is M624 million.
The PISA project is an EU and German Government (BMZ) funded programme intended to contribute to increasing citizens’ awareness of governance structures and their ability to engage in democratic and developmental processes in Lesotho.
It is implemented in close partnership with government central and local authorities, community and civil society organisations to strengthen Lesotho’s democratic and rights’ based culture.
The M55, 4 million funding for the project aims to further promote, deepen and consolidate its achievements across Lesotho, while at the same time working towards sustainable institutionalisation of the programme.
The TCF V aims to increase the budget of the programme by M78, 5 million to a total of M141, 4 million and to extend the operational period by a further four years until June 2024.
Specific objectives of TCF V are to support the identification, formulation and implementation of actions under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF).
EDF is the EU’s main instrument for providing development aid to African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries and to overseas countries and territories (OCTs).
In the case of Lesotho, the current 11th European Development Fund (EDF 11) provides financing of (Euro) €142 million from 2014 to 2020.
In agreement with the government of Lesotho and following extensive stakeholder consultations, EDF 11 support is focusing on the three priority sectors of water, energy and governance.
The extended TCF V will also provide support to the operations of the National Authorising Officer (NAO); policy and infrastructure development in the water sector; and continued assistance to the reform of public finance management.
The facility will also offer short term technical assistance support to a broad range of government policies such as governance, water, energy, youth employment, gender, regional integration, private sector development, EPA implementation.
Dr Major said the EU has been a consistent partner to Lesotho’s development over the years.
“It is appreciated that the EU is one of our largest cooperation partners who have provided consistent support to Lesotho over the last 50 years and we hope for many more to come,” Dr Majoro said.
“With the signing of these agreements, the commitment level of the 11th EDF National Indicative Programme has increased to €70, 5 million which translates to 57 percent (M1, 1 billion). It is expected the remaining balance of €53, 5 million will be committed later this year and we look forward to inviting you back then.”
For his part, Mr Ntsekele said, “Sustainability of land and water resources in the country is highly threatened by massive land degradation and adverse impacts of climate change has not been mainstreamed into land and water resources management plans and the challenge of land degradation and access to water and sanitation continues to increase in the country”.
Mr Ntsekele further indicated that successful implementation of the ICM programme is expected to achieve, among others, improved quality of water resources, preservation of wetlands and ecosystems, reduction of soil erosion and desertification. He said it is also aimed at improving capacity of rangelands and vegetation cover and rejuvenate agricultural lands.
Mr Ntsekele also expressed appreciation for the unwavering support by the EU and other international cooperating partners in the implementations of integrated catchment management journey and also acknowledged the collaborative work with the line ministries who are playing critical roles in this endeavor.