WASHINGTON, June 25, 2021— The Kingdom of Lesotho’s goal of improving the use and quality of nutrition services and strengthening its health system amid the COVID-19 pandemic will be supported with US$22 million credit approved by World Bank from its International Development Association (IDA)* fund today. The project will also receive a US$4.4 million co-financing grant from the Multi-Donor Trust Fund for Achieving Nutrition Impact at Scale.
Lesotho has one of the highest maternal and child mortality and HIV/AIDS rates in the world. Its population also experiences a high adolescent fertility rate, high malnutrition and a growing burden of noncommunicable diseases. At close to 35 percent in Lesotho, stunting is a widespread phenomenon particularly among children of less educated or adolescent mothers. Inadequate care, feeding practices, and environmental health all contribute to this high stunting rate.
The Lesotho Nutrition and Health System Strengthening Project will support the implementation of Lesotho’s National Food and Nutrition Strategy, including through the strengthening of community-based nutrition service delivery that targets women, children and adolescents in districts with very high stunting rates.
“Through this Project, the World Bank will help Lesotho reduce malnutrition, especially among people in lower-income households at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting regular access to essential child, maternal and newborn services,” said Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, World Bank Country Director for South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Eswatini. “This will be done through measures that will lead to increased access to health and nutrition services, both at the facility and community levels.
Project interventions will include training of village health workers to monitor the growth of children, counsel mothers and families on a balanced diet for newborns, children, and mothers, and distribute nutrition and family planning resources.
In addition, adolescent boys and girls aged between ages 10 to19 will benefit from the provision of health and nutrition education at schools and non-formal education centers. The establishment and revitalization of youth peer educators, youth clubs, and adolescent health corners in communities will also be supported.
To ensure quality and efficiency of care, the project will finance the provision of quality grants to all public and Christian Health Association of Lesotho (CHAL) health facilities. This will constitute an entry to implement a star rating system for health service providers in the country.
*The International Development Association (IDA) is the World Bank’s fund for the poorest. Established in 1960, it provides grants and low to zero-interest loans (called “credits”) for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 76 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. IDA resources help effect positive change in the lives of the 1.6 billion people living in the countries that are eligible for its assistance. Since its inception, IDA has supported development work in 113 countries. Annual commitments are constantly on the rise and have averaged $21 billion over the past three years, with about 61% going to Africa.
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