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UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund and Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) have formed a partnership to address amongst others, issues relating to sexual exploitation and abuse at Polihali in the Mokhotlong, District. Polihali is where part of Phase II of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project construction is taking place. This move is in line with the implementation of the LHWP Phase II Public Health Action Plan (PHAP) which outlines mitigation strategies to protect the affected communities against the potential negative impacts in the Project area. The Plan is implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Health and other partners.

The planning process for Phase II of the LHWP entailed extensive environmental and social impact assessment studies in accordance with international best practice.  The studies conducted include the Public Health Baseline Study (PHBS) conducted between February 2014 and June 2016 and the Health Impact Assessment (HIA) conducted between 2018 and 2019. Among others, The Health Impact Assessment identified high teenage pregnancies, increasing number of STIs and other related diseases.

In an effort address health related issues, particularly sexual and reproductive health, the stakeholders, led by MoH drafted an action plan which was approved by LHDA. It is worth noting that UNFPA and other partners have already commenced execution of some of the recommendations from this action plan.

In an effort to accelerate the action plan implementation, The UNFPA Representative to Lesotho, Dr Marc Derveeuw and LHDA Chief Executive Mr. Tente Tente, and their teams, met to further deliberate on the strategies and the next steps.

Both these organizations pledged their commitment to work with other stakeholders to address the sexual and reproductive health issues facing the Polihali area.