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Africa | Lesotho
Economy - Development | Society

Lesotho prince questions African development strategies

Prince Seeiso Bereng Seeiso of Lesotho

© Lawrence Keketso / afrol News
afrol News, 25 July
- Prince Seeiso Bereng Seeiso, the fourth successor to Lesotho's throne and high commissioner to United Kingdom, does not see Africa meeting Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) if funding flows are to keep bureaucratic pace they are taking.

Speaking to afrol News in an exclusive interview at the Royal Village of Matsieng and responding to current commitments made by richer countries at the Group of Eight (G8) summit just ended in Japan, Prince Seeiso said strategies have to be intensified to meet demands and development pressures.

"What we see are politics of figures from pledges, and nothing else. In fact G8 countries are not necessarily making new pledges, but just topping up to what they were not able to deliver since Gleneagles Summit," he said.

The outspoken Lesotho Prince, who is currently in Lesotho with British Prince Harry and his crew, who are on a mission to support orphaned and vulnerable children, due to HIV and AIDS, said targets to meet MDGs by 2015 was way out of reach, calling on both donors and recipients to find workable models to speed up development processes.

For instance, Prince Seeiso said there was a huge gap between pledges made and actual recipients, saying it would do funders a great deal if they were to take time to visit intended recipients and listen and learn from them.

He said in most cases, beneficiaries' real needs are not taken into account when development plans are set. "People on the ground do not always need bread on plate, but rather grow wheat to make bread," he said, adding that the old philosophy of teaching man how to fish was best approach for channelling development funding.

Talking specifically about Lesotho as a recipient country, the prince called on government to bring meaning to decentralisation, saying there was no meaning for people at rural settings to access development funding only through the will of central government.

He further said, while Lesotho's government has made a deliberate policy of external direct budget funding, probably to reasons of accountability, it was necessary to bring a mixture, especially where government has no capacity. He gave an example of health sector in Lesotho, saying for years, private health institutions have catered for health needs and care of rural communities, where government had no reach.

He continued that Africa as a whole is deprived of capacity to handle development aid because of bureaucratic bottlenecks, which he said could be done away with by considering other local partners such as NGOs and other private institutions. "Decentralisation is key to mainstreaming funding," he emphasised, adding governments should adopt a tripartite approach in development.

Sending a message to G8 and other partners of Africa, Prince Seeiso said there was a need not only to think of Africa as a recipient of aid, but also as a true development partner that does not need handouts, but capacity to produce on its own.

He further said in new partnership strategies, people on the ground, especially rural communities should be afforded capacity and choice to say "no" to mistargeted development approaches in their areas. "How many white elephants can we talk about in our countries? Do we still need to have such?" he asked.

He concluded by saying there were numerous approaches that could be taken in speeding up development processes towards meeting MDGs by African countries. He gave an example of a project he is involved with, to which Prince Harry raises funds for in Lesotho, called 'Sentebale' (forget me not), in memory of his late mother, Princess Diana.

"At 'Sentebale', we do not only focus our efforts on children being helped. There are also communities around those children's facilities the project helps, and after all, when those children come of age, they have to reintegrate into communities. So why only fund children in isolation of communities?" he asked.

He said development approaches that target a broader spectrum of communities were more likely to succeed and win community confidence and ownership.

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