LESOTHO – The United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has announced US$62m in funding to boost food security and nutrition, mitigate the impact of climate change and strengthen livelihoods for 160,000 poor rural households in Lesotho.
According to IFAD, the funding will provide the means for a six-year extension of the successful Smallholder Agriculture Development Project (SADP I).
The agreement for the SADP II was signed by Gilbert F. Houngbo, the president of IFAD, and Thabo Sophonea, minister of finance.
The total project financing comprises of US$50 million from the World Bank and a US$5 million loan from IFAD.
The beneficiaries themselves are providing US$5 million, and JICA will contribute an additional US$2 million.
Women, who typically have limited access to land and finance, will make up 50 per cent of the project’s participants and about 35 per cent will be young people who face high rates of unemployment.
The project will reach all 10 districts of the country, an increase from the seven districts reached through SADP I.
SADP II aims to empower women and young people who are particularly vulnerable to climate-related events and other shocks.
According to the International Labour Organisation, 38.5% of young people in Lesotho, aged 15-24, are unemployed.
The creation of sustainable rural employment opportunities will lead to increased incomes and greater long-term resilience.
“In the face of COVID-19, it is even more important that we not allow that progress achieved against poverty during SADP I be lost, or that hunger be allowed to increase,” said Philipp Baumgartner, country director for Lesotho.
“Small-scale farmers need greater support, so that food production, processing and marketing continue, contributing to the country’s food security and economy. I am particularly happy to see an increased focus on youth entrepreneurship and nutrition aspects in this second phase of SADP,” he added.
SADP II will encourage the cultivation of cash crops, such as fruit and vegetables, and link farmers to markets where their products can be sold.
New technologies for land and water management, including the modernisation of irrigation infrastructure to reduce producers’ dependence on rain-fed farming, will also benefit project participants.
In addition, the project will educate participants on nutrition, food preparation and improved hygiene.
Since 1995, IFAD has invested US$92.1 million in 11 rural development programmes and projects in the Kingdom of Lesotho worth a total of almost US$232.6 million. These projects have directly benefited 339,720 rural households.
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