You are here

Progress towards implementation of Lesotho’s commitment on the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) featured highly during the annual review meeting between UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund and its Implementing Partners.

The implementing partners included Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and Training, Lesotho Red Cross Society, World Vision, Lesotho Planned Parenthood Association, Gender Links, Help Lesotho and LENEPWA.

Speaking during the virtual meeting, the UNFPA Regional Director for East and Southern Africa Dr Julitta Onabanjo highlighted the UNFPA global corporate priorities, what is happening at regional level and where we can raise the bar on the partnership for the development and prosperity of the Basotho people.

She expressed solidarity to the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho for lives lost due to COVID 19 saying, “We are commiserating with the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho for the lives lost and illnesses due to COVID19 as well as disruptions on the economy and progress on the reforms. We join in solidarity as we acknowledge the suffering but also the good efforts the country has made such as the vaccine roll out which is impressive and we encourage expansion of the vaccination coverage for especially the front line health workers and those most vulnerable.”

Dr Onabanjo also applauded Lesotho for its participation in the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 stating that it was an opportunity to recommit to the unfinished agenda of rights and choices and also to frame that within the Sustainable Development Goals and a decade of action that is needed to ensure that the world including member states move forward on that development vision.

“We appreciate the Lesotho delegation to the Nairobi summit, Her Majesty Queen ‘Masenate Mohato Seeiso was excellent and one of the two royals that were there. She was dynamic in what she presented as well as her engagement. We were really humbled.”

Regarding the participation of Lesotho’s young people at the summit, she stated, “they came and they were the first to actually put forward a national youth commitment to the summit. We continue to take pride in what they said and how forward looking, how advanced they committed and the accountability and responsibility they took on themselves.”

The Regional Director also expressed concern on the maternal mortality rate in Lesotho (618/100 000 live births). “I worry about what we see in terms of figures on ending preventable maternal deaths in Lesotho, which remains for us a country with the highest maternal mortality ratio in Southern Africa and the pace of decline in no way is what we need to be able to reach the Sustainable Development Goal 3.1 (to Reduce global maternal mortality to less than 70 per 100,000 live births).

She added, “So in Lesotho you cannot achieve economic growth or sustainable development if you continue to lose those lives of women due to complications of pregnancy and child birth.”

Speaking at the same forum, the UNFPA Representative to Lesotho Dr Marc Derveeuw recognized all the excellent work done by all the implementing partners, in particular, the Ministry of Development Planning for assisting and strengthening the UNFPA program and fulfilling its mandate in a continuous way especially in 2020.

“We were able to step up our budgets and the amount of funds we gave to the Ministry of Health enabled them to free more funds to addressing issues related to COVID19. We were also able to step up our programs to addressing gender based violence drawing attention initially to violence happening at border posts when young women were coming back from South Africa trying to cross legally and sometimes illegally,” he added.

The Representative also stated that UNFPA has received additional funds from the Chinese government which will be rolled-out in 2021 with particular focus to helping the government in prevention of COVID19 infections with special focus on midwives.

He reaffirmed UNFPA's support to rolling out the so unique UNFPA mandate regarding Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, violence against women and protection of young people.

The Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Development Planning Mr Sello Tsukulu noted that COVID19 exerted enormous pressure on the government and different activities were halted. He expressed hope that normalcy would soon be restored due to vaccination.

Besides progress on implementation of the ICPD Commitment, the Implementing Partners also highlighted some of the achievements from last year and made new plans for 2021.