Poverty Reduction Blog Tag: Mca-lesotho
Posted on March 22, 2012 by Steve Marma, Resident Country Director
Mozambique suffers from one of the world’s lowest levels of per-capita water consumption. Mozambican girls and women spend much of their day fetching water instead of attending school or engaging in income-generating activities. But recently I was able to witness two important milestones in MCC’s effort to provide access to some of the country’s poorest people.
During a ceremony filled with optimism for the future of northern Mozambique, Prime Minister Aires Bonifacio Baptista Ali visited Nacala on Feb. 18 to lay the first brick for the area’s new water supply system. Surrounded by dignitaries, MCA-Mozambique employees, and beneficiaries, Prime Minister Ali placed the concrete block into a hole in the red earth. Other dignitaries were on hand to witness this important event, including the governor of Nampula province, the vice minister of public works and habitation and local chiefs. There were speeches, handshakes, dancing, countless smiles, blessings by Christian and Muslim leaders, and a makeya (a traditional ceremony to mark important occasions).
More than 120,000 people in Nacala and the surrounding region will soon have access to improved sources of water because of the project, which includes a treatment plant, transmission mains, a reservoir, and distribution centers. It’s part of the compact’s $207 million Water Supply and Sanitation Project, which is expected to benefit more than 750,000 Mozambicans. Just days after that ceremony, we hit another landmark—albeit with far less fanfare. The first group of people displaced by the project’s activities in the Quelimane area received compensation payments. Almost 140 of the 423 people affected by the project received payments; 26 of them opted to receive new houses, the contracts for which have already been signed. They will likely have greater access to social services as part of a planned community.
The Quelimane activity is designed to improve drainage and reduce flooding, which should lower the rate of diseases like cholera and malaria, as well as allow for the expansion of the road system into the area.
Prime Minister Ali’s brick was the first of many to be laid, and hundreds of others affected by the Quelimane project will soon receive their checks—but this month’s events were huge steps on the path of helping northern Mozambicans escape poverty.
Posted on November 18, 2011 by Cassandra Butts, MCC Senior Advisor
When the Millennium Challenge Corporation released its hallmark policy scorecards last week, the occasion marked several firsts for us. In addition to transitioning to a new scorecard system, gender equality is elevated now as a key indicator in determining country eligibility and selection for MCC investments.
MCC remains at the forefront of prioritizing gender equality as key to effective development. Our success to date has been in first recognizing gender inequality as a constraint to economic growth and then integrating and operationalizing gender analyses in our work to maximize the effectiveness and sustainability of our investments to reduce poverty through growth. The new “Gender in the Economy” indicator takes this work to another level.
The “Gender in the Economy” indicator, one of eight indicators on the MCC scorecard measuring economic freedom, assesses a government’s commitment to promoting gender equality by providing women and men with the same legal ability to interact with the private and public sectors. Specifically, the indicator measures the legal capacity of married and unmarried women to execute 10 economic activities: get a job, register a business, sign a contract, open a bank account, choose where to live, get passports, travel domestically and abroad, pass citizenship on to their children, and become heads of households. The International Finance Corporation’s Women, Business and the Law report is the source for the information included in this indicator.
MCC’s own work in advancing gender equality provides a striking example of the progress that can be made by linking a similar set of rights to our compact process. In 2006, MCC worked with the Government of Lesotho to ensure that the minority legal status of women, which had created similar economic inequalities, was removed in law before compact signing. As a result of the government’s embrace of this policy reform and other efforts, Lesotho now ranks in the world’s top ten in closing its economic gender gap according to the World Economic Forum’s most recent Global Gender Gap Index.
The “Gender in the Economy” indicator builds on MCC’s groundbreaking Gender Policy by recognizing the relationship among growth, poverty reduction and gender equality. Quite simply, the indicator identifies legally sanctioned gender inequality as negatively impacting a country’s economic growth because it prevents a large portion of the population from fully participating in the economy. What is exciting about the indicator is its potential to generate greater awareness of this critical issue while creating a powerful incentive for improved policy performance in partner countries and other developing countries seeking MCC investment.
As the U.S. Government continues to further its commitment to gender equality and to improving the economic rights of women and men around the world, we at MCC are proud to deepen our efforts through this emphasis on gender equality in our country selection process. And with this focus, we look forward to realizing even greater development achievements.
Posted on December 15, 2010 by Patrick Fine, Vice President, Department of Compact Operations
I returned to Lesotho last month for the first time since I worked on a USAID project at the National University 23 years ago. After more than two decades, I was struck by the impressive progress that Lesotho has made in reducing poverty through a combination of private investment, foreign aid, and the country’s own resources.
I was in-country to assess progress on MCC’s Lesotho Compact, which focuses on improving the nation’s institutional capacities: Projects range from water and sanitation systems, to healthcare facility construction, to financial-sector reform.
MCC and the Government of Lesotho are building a large water system to serve five cities (Maseru, Roma, Teyateyaneng, Masenod and Morija); the new system will supply hundreds of thousands of liters of water and alleviate the need for women to haul water long distances. Improved healthcare delivery projects include the reconstruction of 138 health clinics, outpatient departments in the country’s 14 district hospitals, and a state-of-the-art reference laboratory, blood collection and processing center, and a dormitory at a local health training college. The Compact also funds a number of initiatives to improve the policy environment to extend financial services and formalize land tenure.
I’ve noticed significant changes since I lived in Lesotho during the mid-1980s. The road network is significantly expanded and seemed to be in better repair. In the capital, I got disoriented by a new four-lane bypass road that allowed us to zoom across town in a fraction of the time it used to take. New office buildings, residential areas and businesses have transformed Maseru, and instead of people routinely trekking across the border to South Africa for supplies (border passes that allowed one to skip the passport queues used to be a status symbol), South Africans along the border now come to Maseru to do their shopping.
Perhaps nowhere is Lesotho’s transformation more evident than in the health sector, where MCC is playing a large part in development efforts. Under the dynamic leadership of Minister Dr. Mphu Ramatlapeng, the Government of Lesotho is developing one of Maseru’s close suburbs, Botsebelo, into a health enclave with a spectacular new public national referral hospital that is being financed and will be run by an innovative public-private partnership with South Africa’s largest private health provider, NetCare.
Also in Botsebelo, the old leprosy camp has been converted into a hospital to treat patients suffering from multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB). There is also a new pediatric clinic, and MCC is financing a state of the art medical lab. This will without a doubt be the most advanced medical hub for hundreds of kilometers and, like Maseru’s growing business district, is likely to attract South Africans from across the border.
Along with upgrades to 138 clinics and 14 district hospitals, the Government of Lesotho is implementing independent projects to transform its health sector. In addition to the new national referral hospital, I visited a prototype clinic in Maseru that provides a level of care—including primary services such as antenatal consultations and HIV/AIDS outreach, testing, counseling, and treatment—that was previously not available. As a result, daily patient rates have more than tripled since clinic reconstruction and a second doctor has been added to handle the load.
My visit to the Metalong dam site, and my travel along one of the water distribution routes, provided a good “before” snapshot of the project. The Government of Lesotho (GOL) has completed a number of advance infrastructure projects, extending and tarring the road, installing an electrical substation and compensating (and, where necessary, resettling) affected residents in accordance with MCC’s strict environmental and social assessment guidelines.
It was exciting to see project development finished after years of MCC and MCA-Lesotho’s hard work. All feasibility studies are now complete, the GOL has its independent engineers and project management team on site, contracts have been awarded and the contractors are expected to begin construction of the water treatment plant in December. One feature of this project is a testament to the GOL’s sophistication in planning ambitious projects: The entire Metolong dam project is jointly supported by 10 financing partners, including the GOL, the Kuwait Fund, OPEC Fund, Saudi Fund, BADEA Fund, the European Union, the World Bank and the Development Bank of South Africa. Involvement of multiple funding partners makes the project more sustainable and more likely to succeed in the long run.
Many times during my visit, my Lesotho counterparts commented on the ambitious nature of the Lesotho Compact. The many policy initiatives—including laws to regularize land tenure, to give women full economic rights under the law, and operational regulations to ensure maintenance of new facilities—make this not only ambitious but an example of the Government of Lesotho’s genuine commitment to building both the infrastructure and the policy environment necessary to attract investment, stimulate enterprise formation, and drive sustainable development to reduce poverty.
I came away from this visit optimistic about the long-term prospects for MCC’s investments in Lesotho. Project targeting and development appear to be far enough along to be accomplished within MCC’s five-year time frame, and the GOL has appointed a top notch team to work with MCA-Lesotho to implement the Compact. Finance Minister Thahane, Health Minister Ramatlapeng, and Natural Resources Minister Moleleki are all three development MVPs with international reputations for competence and delivering results.
Mrs. Mohapi, the CEO of MCA-Lesotho, is one of those indomitable leaders whose experience and wisdom inspire confidence. Finally, Prime Minister Mosisili was unequivocal about the Government of Lesotho’s commitment not just to financing new facilities, but to instituting the policies necessary to ensure they become and remain productive assets that support broad based economic growth.
On the front lines of development, where we deal with day-to-day challenges, frustrations, and setbacks, it can be easy to lose sight of the broader sweep of progress. My visit to Lesotho showed me how far the country has come in the last 20 years. This progress is living proof that foreign assistance, when combined with a genuine commitment to good policies, really can change lives.
Posted on November 2, 2010 by Nthati Moorosi, MCA-Lesotho Public Outreach Director
After visiting MCA-Lesotho in April 2010, MCA-Burkina Faso National Coordinator, Bissiri Joseph Sirima, invited the MCA-Lesotho Human Resources Officer, Teboho Mahloane, and me to visit MCA-Burkina Faso to discuss ways to expand the role of communications and share expertise in human resources management. By increasing capacity in these areas and sharing our experiences, our countries are hoping to enhance both the transparency and the efficiency with which we implement our respective MCC compacts. Mr. Sirima visited MCA-Lesotho because it had good practices to share regarding implementation, particularly with regard to human resource management and tools for public outreach activities. He was accompanied by the MCC Burkina Faso Resident Country Director, Kateri Clement.
From May 17 to 28, we visited Burkina Faso to work with MCA-Burkina Faso’s project managers and directors, helping them to identify their public outreach needs and develop strategies to meet those needs. I shared tools for strengthening intra-MCA communications and public outreach coordination, creating a branding manual, and developing standard protocols for public communications.
As I have learned in Lesotho, not only does public outreach need to be budgeted for and conceptualized at an early stage but also it is equally important to integrate public outreach into each of the compact projects so that public buy-in and support can be secured well in advance of project implementation. The success of a compact’s projects depends on the constant coordination of strategic communication with the public across the whole spectrum of MCA activities.
In addition, we worked closely on human resource management issues. The collaboration resulted in the adoption of a four-pronged work plan to address human resources issues within MCA-Burkina Faso. The plan addressed performance management, human resource rules and regulations, training and development, and administration. Each of the tools shared were customized to complement the context in which they will be used.
This experience has contributed positively to capacity building on both sides, and could not have come at a better time for MCA-Burkina Faso, which is still refining its human resources policies and management systems.
In addition to sharing human resource expertise and MCA-Lesotho’s public outreach best practices, we observed and learned from MCA-Burkina Faso’s dedicated team. MCA-Lesotho and MCA-Burkina Faso will be stronger and more efficient in fulfilling their roles, which are critical to the success of individual projects and the two countries’ respective MCC compacts. The collaboration between the two MCAs was in the spirit of comradery, through which I believe various MCA teams can share experiences and knowledge in order to contribute to the success of the broader MCC goal of reducing poverty through sustainable economic growth.
Ultimately, poverty reduction demands a global response among friends. I am proud to be at the heart of these conversations that have introduced new ideas and helped forge new friendships among colleagues who are working to build a better future for our countries.
Posted on March 8, 2010 by Cassandra Butts, Senior Advisor, and Virginia Seitz, Director of Gender and Social Assessment
On February 26, 2010, we went to several villages in the northern region of Lesotho to witness the progress of the country’s $362.5 million MCC compact, in particular how the Gender Equality Project is building understanding and support for changes resulting from the Legal Capacity of Married Persons Act of 2006. MCC supported the Government of Lesotho in this area of legal reform, and the Act repealed the marital power that had made women second-class citizens. Prior to 2006, married women in Lesotho held the status of children, limiting their political, economic, and social rights; women needed their husbands or other male relatives permission to access loans, own property, and even have medical surgery.
Throughout our day in the northern region, we heard the same message—progress is being made. Married women are taking out loans and purchasing property in their name. Legal reform is only the first step; now, the challenge is to ensure that both men and women understand what the Act means and how gender equality contributes to development for all members of the family. This is a difficult task, as with all changes; some men feel threatened and some women are afraid to go against their traditional gender roles.
The Gender Equality project team at MCA-Lesotho, the local entity managing the implementation of Lesotho’s MCC compact, is carefully building awareness, knowledge and acceptance of gender equality in the economic rights of both men and women. They are conducting training on the new laws for government and other institutions such as the civil and customary law judiciary and the banking industry. They also have a country-wide outreach program to reach deeply into rural society and institutions, including chiefs and community councils, to advocate and teach the benefits of gender equality for the development of the Basotho people. The chairperson of the community council of the Pitseng village noted that he has seen more women in recent years take leadership roles, including chiefs. We had the opportunity to meet one of these female Principal Chiefs, who is engaged in educating the local chiefs so they can disseminate information about this Act and how it can be applied. One councilman of the Pitseng community council noted, I have seen married couples planning together, communicating, and taking each others perspectives seriously. That is progress.
In a country where traditions, religion, and culture have defined gender roles, the passing of this legislation is paving the path to dialogue and great changes. Change takes time, and it is encouraging to know that MCC is contributing to gender equality in Lesotho.
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