Girl doing homework at her desk in Lesotho

Habitat partners to help children in Lesotho

Habitat Lesotho national director Mathabo Makuta recently was invited to a Learning Exchange Workshop held at The Hague. The three-day workshop brought together change agents from civil society and grassroots groups from around the globe for joint learning on land challenges. Makuta was afforded the opportunity to present Habitat’s work and gain insights from other participants.

Children are nearly half of Lesotho’s population and are being orphaned and abandoned at an increasing rate, according to Makuta. HIV and AIDS are extremely prevalent, with about 50 percent of urban women under 40 HIV-positive. About 40 percent of Lesotho’s 2.2 million inhabitants live beneath the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day and are described by the UN as “ultra-poor.”

“Vulnerable children, those children 18 years and under who have lost one or both parents — or those who, even if their parents are still alive, are in circumstances which make them vulnerable to abuse — are our specific focus,” Makuta says. “We work with(in) community structures to identify and assist these children.

“We are now also working together with partners to look at advocacy as a means of influencing government policy in order to secure tenure and land rights,” she says. “In Lesotho, Habitat is looking after vulnerable groups, and as such, our mission aligns itself with the government’s national priorities. They are noticing our efforts, and this puts us in a position to have a positive influence.”

Habitat Lesotho began work in 2001 and has completed projects in seven of the country’s 10 districts.