The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), with financial support from the European Union (EU), on Tuesday presented 10 Toyota 4X4 trucks, 34 Honda motorbikes and protective kit to the Ministry of Social Development (MoSD).
The handover ceremony took place at the Ministry of Health Auditorium in Maseru, and the equipment is meant to boost the MoSD’s efforts towards effective service-delivery.
According to UNICEF Representative to Lesotho, Tesfaye Shiferaw, the consignment, worth approximately M4.3million, is meant to strengthen operational capacities of district councils where Child Grant Programmes (CGP) and other social protection interventions are being implemented under the auspices of the MoSD.
CGP are meant to improve the living standards of orphans and vulnerable children by reducing malnutrition, improving their health status and increasing school-enrolment.
“These assets will contribute to the timely delivery, as well as quality insurance and monitoring, of social protection interventions,” said Dr Shiferaw, adding the modalities of the vehicles’ utilisation had already been agreed upon.
“We are very thankful to the European Union for their continued support in the development and expansion of Social Protection in Lesotho.
“We hope the transport assets will be used by the MoSD structures for the agreed purpose and achieve the planned results.”
He paid tribute to government for recognising the value of social protection by allocating nine-percent of its Gross Domestic Product to the sector “compared to the one to two percent in neighbouring countries”.
Dr Shiferaw also emphasised the need for the MoSD to engage with other line-ministries, as well as setting up social protection sector coordination mechanisms.
In his remarks, EU Ambassador, Michael Doyle, lauded the “strong tripartite collaborative partnership” between the European Union, MoSD and UNICEF.
“The government honoured its commitment to take over 100 percent of the financing of the Child Grant Programmes starting from the fiscal year 2013/2014, when an amount of M36 million was committed from the national budget to fund the initiative,” said Ambassador Doyle, who also noted about 80 000 children had already benefited from the programme.
“The government is taking full ownership of the programme to ensure a sustainable approach, which is a real achievement that deserves to be recognised and applauded.
“UNICEF, as the implementing partner, has contributed immensely to this achievement.”
He added the vehicles would be distributed to all the country’s 10 districts.
“The vehicles and motorbikes handed over today will help enhance efforts to support the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of social protection programmes in Lesotho, especially as we enter Phase III of the EU support to social protection in Lesotho,” Ambassador Doyle said.
On his part, Social Development Minister, Molahlehi Letlotlo, said the EU and UNICEF had recognised the need to replace the 12 V8 Land Cruisers they previously donated as they were now “old and too expensive to maintain”.
“We are immeasurably grateful. This support will go a long way and continue to mark the presence of the ministry in the remotest areas,” said Mr Letlotlo.
“The officers will have no excuse not to reach all the clients who require services.”
The minister also reassured the EU and UNICEF representatives that the vehicles would serve the purpose for which they were intended. “We promise to take good care of them. This is evidenced by our having ensured that the drivers who will use them undergo defensive training and are qualified and competent to make the best use of these vehicles,” he said.
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