Small in population and size, the Kingdom of Lesotho takes up a unique position on the African continent. Landlocked by the region’s largest economy, South Africa, the country has few exploitable natural resources and a limited agricultural potential. Poverty is multi-faceted and deeply entrenched in Lesotho, which belongs to the world's Least Developed Countries with a third of its population barely surviving under half of the poverty line. Positive development trends have been reserved but the rapidly spreading prevalence of HIV/AIDS. Around 31% of the population aged 15-49 is believed to live with the disease that is threatening the lives, livelihoods, social fabric and future of people in Lesotho.
Lesotho's poverty reduction strategy is based on a well-defined development framework, emphasising the pursuit of economic growth and improving the living conditions of the poor, in particular with regard to education, health and environment, in addition to public sector reforms including the establishment of effective and sustainable local government institutions and improved public services.
EC assistance to the Government of Lesotho will continue to support poverty reduction through economic growth and better provision of basic services. The EC will also contribute to fight HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, which is crucial for the country's development. The EC’s co-operation strategy with Lesotho under the 10th EDF, presented in the Country Strategy Paper for Lesotho (2008-2013) , focuses on infrastructure, in particular water and sanitation as well as human development, predominantly through a campaign to fight HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. This will be complemented by general budget support that is monitored against the achievement of targets specific to maintenance of stability-oriented macroeconomic policy, progress in implementation of the National Strategic Development Policy, improved public financial management and public sector reform. Furthermore, the EC will support Government actions to consolidate the ongoing decentralisation reforms, to improve governance and strengthen non-state actors as well as support trade-related economic growth.
The original multi-annual indicative programme for Lesotho under the 10th EDF amounts to €136 million to address these priorities. The current allocation is €161.8 million, after taking into account adjustments resulting from the Mid Term and ad-hoc reviews.
The Country Strategy Paper for Lesotho (2002-2007) under the 9th EDF concentrated resources in four key areas, infrastructure development in water and sanitation as well as road transport, mitigation of the effects of HIV/AIDS and capacity building in public finance management and economic planning.
The EC funded "Lesotho Water and Sanitation Sector Programme" contributes to the provision on reliable and affordable water and sanitation services for domestic and industrial use in the Lesotho Lowlands. The project covers repair and upgrading of the wastewater treatment in the capital Maseru, upgrading of water and sanitation services in three towns in the Lesotho Lowlands and the design of a medium to long-term investment programme for the Lesotho Lowlands bulk water supply.
Other sources of information
For more information on EU relations with Lesotho and further details on projects and programmes in Lesotho funded from the European Development Fund (EDF) and the general budget of the EU, the Delegation of the European Union to Lesotho is responsible for co-operation activities in the country.