- The Lesotho government will roll out the social cash grants to poor households caring for orphans and other vulnerable children, as well as child headed households later this month, the Director of Social Welfare Limakatso Chisepo has announced.
The launch of the first grant will be given on 22 April in Mathula Community Council in the Mafeteng district.
The Lesotho Child Grants Programme (CGP) which seeks to supplement the income of the poorest of the poor households will award M360 ($38) per quarter to the heads of such households.
Ms Chisepo said the grant worth €12 million secured from the European Commission and expected to be disbursed within the period of three years will supplement families' budgets and support them in prioritising their needs.
With Lesotho’s’ HIV/AIDS prevalence estimated at 23 percent, Lesotho has been overwhelmed by the number of orphaned and vulnerable children estimated above 180,000 according to the UN figures.
According to Ms Chisepo, the grants will also help reduce malnutrition and improve the health status of the vulnerable children. "The grant will also retain the children in schools having realised that a number of them are dropping out of schools to take care of siblings and or ailing parents," she said.
The CGP will be piloted in three communities of Matelile in Mafeteng, Lebakeng in Qacha’s Nek and in Semonkong. According to the director, the test sites were selected as they represent different forms of challenges related to access.
The pilot phase, which ends at the end of 2009 will cover 5,000 orphaned and vulnerable children living in 1,200 households. The programme is expected to be rolled out by 2010 to other districts with many more households and children expected to be covered under the programme before the end of 2011.
The pilot project is expected to help the country to start up a reliable system that the government will use to roll out the social grants.
The Child Grants Programme is part of a larger package of child services that the government of Lesotho believes will make a real difference to the lives of its youngest citizens, especially those who are orphaned and vulnerable.
The programme was first announced by the minister of Finance Timothy Thahane during his budget speech in February this year.
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