WASHINGTON — The World Bank Group approved a $26.5 million loan for the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho to improve the efficiency and equity of selected social assistance programs and to strengthen the livelihoods of poor and vulnerable households in selected communities. The Pathways to Sustainable Livelihoods Project (PSLP) will support poor and vulnerable housholds to engage in productive economic activities, as well as work with the Ministry of Social Development to strengthen their social protection systems and support digitalization.
The Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho recognizes the importance of social protection and has made substantial investments in developing social protection programs, and their accompanying delivery systems, as part of the government’s commitment to protecting vulnerable groups. Over the last 20 years, Lesotho has sought to develop and scale up a lifecycle approach to social protection programming.
However, despite the fact that Lesotho spends the most among African countries—and twice that of its neighbors—on social protection (6.4% as a share of GDP), equity remains an issue with little of that expenditure going toward programs that target the poorest. The project will therefore enhance human development outcomes and increase equity of the social assistance system, as well as improve household resilience to shocks and climate change, in line with the newly adopted social development approach which introduces measures to link beneficiaries of its social assistance programs to sustainable livelihood opportunities.
“This project supports the government’s efforts to address the unexpected shocks that have been brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, and now the rise in global food and fuel prices as a result of the Russia-Ukraine crisis. Now, more than ever, it will be important to continue building an efficient, equitable and shock-responsive system,” said Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, World Bank Country Director for Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa. “Safety nets in Lesotho remain the main vehicle available to channel resource to the poor and vulnerable during crises, and as such, should be maintained and regularly funded.”
The project will support the Government of Lesotho to address the goals outlined in their National Social Protection Strategy II (NSPS II, 2021-2031) which has a strong focus on the efficiency and responsiveness of social protection. The primary goal of the strategy is to make programs more targeted and better coordinated, which will in turn help reduce poverty and food insecurity as well as promote sustainable livelihoods. The project is aligned with the NSPS’s three priorities of developing preventive social protection programs which include measures to avert poverty and food insecurity; to promote pathways for social assistance beneficiaries into sustainable livelihoods; and to provide transformative social protection measures targeted at addressing inequality.