By Mpho Shelile

MASERU – With the speed of light (Ka lebelo la nts’oekhe) and aligned to the call by the United members states to accelerate the implementation of the sustainable development goals, the cooperation framework(CF) calls for accelerated pace in decision making, delivering and coordinating of development priorities, while leveraging all available resources, domestic and international , private and public.  The government of Lesotho, United Nations and Development actors aim to ensure inclusion of all Basotho and achievement of all SDG’s by 2030.

On the 19 July, The Right Honarable Prime Minister Samuel Ntsokoane Matekane together with the UN and 23 other sectors signed a COOPERATION FRAMEWORK which was to be implemented immediately. The framework will be a five year long program, in his speech he urged all those present to work together to attain the Lesotho we all want.  “The UN is here to assist us so we should make use of this opportunity and be like those other countries who were once underdeveloped like us”. He also urged all of them to put their political differences aside so they can reach better goals.   

 In the executive summary made, it was stated that the 2024-2028 cooperation framework was developed  at a time when the kingdom of Lesotho and the world was experiencing  one of the most devastating public health crises, the Covid-19 pandemic. Covid-19 negatively impacted both economic and social stability of most countries. It exposed the already existing vulnerabilities in Lesotho and cracked wide open the education, health, gender and economic faults.

The Russia and Ukraine war further exacerbated what was an already fragile socio-economic context; causing the cost of living to increase, unemployment to rise and micro-economic instability. Overcoming this problem has become an urgent goal and together they will be focusing on the three pillars which have been structured in order to make the implementation of this very projects easier. Good governance and social equity which the United Nations in collaboration with the government of Lesotho aims to support, strengthen and instill in institutions will go a long way. The two entities will work together tirelessly to accelerate the implementation of laws and policies that affect people’s lives and to ensure that the second pillar; equitable food systems, environment sustainability and climate change are adhered to.

 The UN will focus on supporting the government to strengthen food systems that are just and contribute to people’s nutrition, health and well-being. To restore and to protect nature, provide decent jobs and inclusive economies. Stating that the UN’s effort will go beyond supporting production and consumption, it will also support efforts that help the country to access markets and active private sectors to achieve the required level of resilience. And create a solid base for responding to shocks caused by climate change. While giving her remarks, the representative from the UN Mrs. Amanda Khozi Mukwashi said Lesotho holds immense potential, and it is through collective efforts that they can unlock this potential and pave the way for a brighter future. This Cooperation Framework serves as a guiding instrument, aligning our collective actions to support Lesotho & development agendas. As August approaches, a new season is beginning for Lesotho; Selemo se secha. A season that heralds the beginning of new life after a hard winter. Blooming, greening, it is a season that is filled with tremendous opportunities for growth and development. For us, the CF is a new season, she stated.   

The United Nations stand ready to collaborate with the government, in every sector, with civil society, the private sector and development partners to contribute towards the creation of new growth and inclusive development that leaves no one behind. A new season that acknowledges that everyone is born equal in dignity and in rights and delivers to all. “Let us move forward together with unwavering purpose, speed, and inclusivity. The challenges we face may be great, but our determination to overcome them is even greater. By working hand in hand, we can build a prosperous and sustainable Lesotho that fulfills the aspirations of its people”, said Amanda.

The Minister of Finance and Development Planning Hon. Dr. Rets’elisoitsoe Matlanyane pleaded with those in leadership positions to lead and guide these programs so that they do not fail, “ I have done all that was needed for me to do, so all that is left for you is to do your part.” In addition she shared her appreciation towards the UN system for their continued support. She also stating that he frame work aims at accelerating Lesotho’s economic development.   

 The last pillar is the peoples well-being and Economic development, here the government of Lesotho’s vision is a nation where everyone enjoys the standard of living and in which there are equal opportunities for people to realize their full potential, so the government of Lesotho has committed itself to improving the quality of life for all Basotho through interventions that address poverty, deprivation, vulnerability and inequality comprehensively and holistically. And in order to close the economic gap and increase productivity, the UN will go beyond supporting economic growth and also support micro-economic solutions that transcend ]financial solutions and ensure that vulnerable communities and key populations are not left behind. So the UN team in Lesotho, after exploring and determining what  capacities and resources would be required to contribute to the implementation and delivery of the cooperate framework  (CF) has to come up with a joint statement of commitment, with the aim of leveraging  and increasing efficiencies through  joint programming. The CF’S key message is that since many Basotho have been left behind for far too long, acceleration of delivery must be a priority, hence they are to deliver with the speed of light (ka lebelo la Nts’oekhe).

 In conclusion the UN country team, together with the government of Lesotho has undersigned commitment to deliver on all the strategic priorities of the Lesotho UN sustainable development cooperation framework of 2024-2028 in line with the second national strategic plan. Together they plan to work effectively towards the Agenda for the prosperity, peace and stability of all Basotho people leaving no one behind.