Lesotho to Scale-up its Response to El Nino Drought through Social Assistance

December 6, 2016

World Bank approves $20 million for social assistance programs

WASHINGTON, December 6, 2016 – Lesotho’s drought response efforts got a boost today following the approval of $20 million in additional financing by the World Bank Group Board of Executive Directors. The added funds will help the Government of Lesotho improve the shock responsive function of its ongoing social assistance programs as parts of its emergency response to the El Nino drought.

This additional financing will support the Ministry of Social Development’s use of the social protection system to identify and deliver emergency relief to at least 26 000 poor and vulnerable households. It will also help strengthen the long term impacts of social assistance, building on the existing Social Assistance Project, by furthering support to increased enrollment in the National Information System for Social Assistance and the Child Grant Program.

“Through this Additional Financing, the World Bank is supporting the Government’s efforts in providing relief to vulnerable households affected by the current drought, by using the existing system in place, while also ensuring that the social protection addresses long term vulnerabilities,” said Lesotho Minister of Social Development, Mr. Molahlehi Letlotlo

The Social Assistance Project which became effective in July 2016 is aimed at improving the efficiency and equity of five of the country’s social assistance programs, namely; the Child Grant Program, the Orphans and Vulnerable Children Bursary Scheme, the Post Primary Bursary, the Public Assistance Program and the Old Age Pension Program.

Provided through the Crisis Response Window of the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA)*, the additional financing will help ensure that the originally predicted gains from Lesotho Social Assistance Project are not lost due to the impact of the current drought. It will also allow the government to design and pilot interventions to strengthen the resilience of poor and vulnerable households. These interventions will contribute to bridging the gap between social assistance beneficiaries and programs that help increase productive potential such as those in agriculture and forestry.

“By seeking to improve the shock-responsive functions of its social protection system, the Government of Lesotho is breaking ground. Shock-responsive social protection is a new and promising area which seeks to ensure that social protection systems can be used to provide emergency response, thus ensuring that those in need are reached in an effective and efficient manner,” said Ivan Velev, the World Bank Acting Country Directorfor Lesotho.

The additional financing will also strengthen key aspects of social assistance that make it an effective crisis response mechanism, through reinforcing its tools to identify vulnerable households in times of crisis, improving the efficiency of programs and payment systems, and establishing explicit linkages with emergency response operations.  

* The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 77 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.3 billion people who live in IDA countries. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 112 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $19 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent going to Africa.

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