THE Ministry of Social Development is on a drive to expand the National Information System for Social Assistance (NISSA) to cover sixty four councils from the current thirty six.
NISSA manager, Setlaba Phalatsi, said this would help to ensure the country has an updated database that would enhance the coverage of vulnerable communities as well as strengthening the responsiveness to shocks such as drought.
NISSA is a single social registry that stores socio-economic data for targeting, planning, managing, and monitoring social assistance programmes such as child grants.
In 2017, there were 60,000 households in the NISSA database and the Ministry of Social Development plans to expand this to 190,000 households by end of 2018.
The government and the European Union (EU) have a financial agreement to the tune of EUR 1.6 million (M26 million) for the enhancement of social protection programmes in Lesotho. An updated NISSA database is therefore critical to reforming Lesotho’s social protection sector.
Another partner in the NISSA development is the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which has injected US$ 31,442,046 (about M376 million) to enhance the capacity of the data base among other social protection initiatives.
Mr Phalatsi told the Sunday Express there was need to update the seven year-old database to provide new information that would help the government and development partners in targeting vulnerable people and help improve coordination of assistance programmes.
“A lot of changes have happened over the years, in terms of the status of families, hence the need to update the information. The overall goal is to make sure that the NISSA database enables us to get our interventions where they are needed most and improve the quality of life of those that are vulnerable,” Mr Phalatsi said.
He explained the need to improve the efficiency of the database by ensuring it is easily accessible to development partners and to help them identify vulnerable people. This, he said, would also ease their processes that inform designing and implementation of their programmes.
“An updated NISSA will go a long way in ensuring that areas, which were not covered previously by some development partners, due to lack of data, can also be included in their programmes,” Mr Phalatsi said.
The scope of work on NISSA, he said, also aim to allow sharing of information for coordination purposes and to prevent duplication of programmes.
“We would like NISSA to be a total package and a platform that is going to provide various services including presenting work being done in various areas by development agencies. It can help us to understand what interventions are working and those that need to be improved. This is important because aid should not always be a lifetime provision, we would like to see if the communities being assisted are graduating from poverty or whether we are having more people falling into the vulnerability category and why?” Mr Phalatsi said.
He said efforts to decentralise NISSA in the districts; and to develop and provide an emergency module on NISSA, will help enhance the country’s capacity to respond to disasters.
“The initiatives we are working on with regards to NISSA will help create opportunities for engagements at district level through the disaster risk management committees and development partners on the utilisation of NISSA as a resource for ongoing programming and planning for future shocks.”