EU chips in again

EU chips in again

MASERU – THE European Union (EU) has donated M106 million to help Lesotho create a database of all potential households and individuals eligible for social protection interventions.
Known as National Information System for Social Assistance (NISSA), the database will be used to target beneficiaries of several social safety programmes as well as to support the management and linkages of social protection initiatives.

The information will also help in conducting research on beneficiaries’ needs or other social aspects.
The expectation is that NISSA will reduce the cost and time it takes to get aid to those who need it the most.
Speaking at the signing ceremony on Monday Finance Minister, Dr Moeketsi Majoro, said Lesotho is grateful for the continued support from the European Union.
“It is not only important to protect the most vulnerable people; it must be done in an efficient manner,” Majoro said.

“When fully operational, NISSA will help in this endeavour.”
Started in 2016 and expected to end in 2023, the NISSA was established after the government realised that despite spending 9 percent of the GDP on social safety net programmes, only a small percentage of poor households were benefiting. This was caused by fragmentation in the social security sector, with different programmes being implemented by different ministries.
Because of lack of coordination, there was an overlap in programmes which resulted in waste and the programme missing their targets. In some cases, certain households benefited from multiple programmes while some equally poor households did not get any help.

Markus Theobald, Head of Cooperation at the European Union, said the grant was part of the second addendum to the EU’s initial commitment to help fund NISSA. He said the motive is to increase the EU’s contribution to the project, especially on the aspect of “strengthening governance of social protection in Lesotho”.
“Many Basotho are still struggling to make ends meet and rightfully, they are looking at the state for protecting their mere existence,” Theobald said. “While reforming state structures and economic sectors is an on-going endeavour it will hardly change prosperity patterns in the short term,” he said.

He said solidarity with the neediest people of Lesotho is one of the foundations on which the EU is built and a value it seeks to promote globally.
Minister of Social Development, ’Matebatso Doti, said they work hand in hand with UNICEF for technical support and the intention is to roll out the initiative to 64 communities of Lesotho, from 230 000 households to 350 000 in the coming years. This is the second batch of funds that EU donated to Lesotho for the NISSA project.
In September last year, Majoro received M26 million from the then EU ambassador in Lesotho, Michael Doyle.

In 2016, a total of 20 000 households were registered on the NISSA, according to data from the United Nations. The target was to register 115 000 households in 2017. The Ministry of Social Development expanded the number of child grant recipient households from 23,000 with 69 000 children in 2015 to 26681 households with 80043 children in 2016.

Tokase Mphutlane

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