MASERU- The fifth and last report on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 2015 Report indicates that Lesotho had a mixed experience towards MDG implementation.
This was revealed during the launch of the report by the Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing last week. The MDGs were launched in 2000 and comprised eight goals and 21 targets that influenced development planning and policies for all United Nations member-countries, Lesotho included.
The MDGs covered international commitments to reduce poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empowerment of women, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat malaria, HIV/ AIDS and other diseases and ensure environmental sustainability.
Speaking at the launch of the report, Metsing indicated that Lesotho made a significant progress in the areas of education, gender equality, the environment and global partnership for development, and fared poorly in the areas of health and poverty related MDGs.
He indicated that even though unemployment has decreased from 34.2% in 1997 to 28.7% in 2015, it continues to contribute to the high level of poverty.
“Poverty and inequality continue to be major challenges with 57.1 % of the country’s population living below poverty line and a Gini coefficient of 0.54,” he said.
Metsing also highlighted that Lesotho performed well in education with adult literacy rates of over 90% for women and men.
“This achievement is due through initiatives of the Education Act of 2010 which made primary education not only free but also compulsory,” he said.
He continued that primary education net enrolment is currently at 76% while issues relating to dropout rates, completion rates and quality of education remain to be addressed.
“Government’s concern is to find out where those who couldn’t complete their studies are, what they are doing and what can be done to help them attain the requisite skills that will help them improve their livelihoods,” he said.
According to the report, Lesotho has made a substantial progress in promoting gender equality and female participation in education and politics. The percentage of females in Lesotho’s National Assembly increased from 11.2% in 1993 to 25% in 2014.
The report also indicates that under-five mortality rate and infant mortality rates declined from 113 and 81 per 1000 live births in 2005 to 85 and 59 per 1000 live births in 2015, though Lesotho failed to reach the set target of 37 deaths for 1000 live births for under five mortality and 27 for infant mortality.
Despite the results, Metsing said Lesotho substantially achieved its target of immunization against measles for one year olds with an immunization of 90% of its one year olds against measles.
“Despite an 18% increase in skilled personnel attending births since 2001, the maternal mortality situation has worsened with an increase in maternal deaths from 370 per 100, 000 births in 1990 to 1024 in 2014.
Also HIV/AIDS prevalence rate among adults is still high at 25%, the second highest in the world despite various interventions undertaken to curb the spread of HIV infections,” he said.
However, the DPM noted that experience from the implementation of the MDGs has shown that significant progress can be made with targeted interventions, sound strategies, adequate resources and political will.
“Government is aware that it has to improve on policy development and implementation, focusing on coordinated and integrated multi-sectoral approach to development and also improve monitoring and evaluation systems for establishing baselines and tracking progress,” he said.
Meanwhile, Malefu Khanyapa Director of the Monitoring and Evaluation department at the Ministry of Development Planning also indicated that through MDGs they learned that effective communication and follow up are critical for the success of any development agenda.
“They have also revealed that improvements in access to basic services have not been associated with improvements in the quality of service delivery. For instance the Ministry of Roads will construct a new road and later WASCO will demolish that road paving way for water pipes and leave everything like that. That needs to change now as we embark on the Sustainable Development Goals,” she noted.