The Government of Lesotho is currently preparing its voluntary national review (VNR) reporting on its experiences, including successes, innovations, challenges and lessons learned, to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
The VNRs also seek to strengthen policies and institutions of governments and to mobilize multi-stakeholder support and partnerships for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The VNR Report will be concluded with a national validation conference.
To support the Government in its efforts to report on progress of SDGs and make its citizens a vital part of the review, the UN Lesotho sought partnership with GIZ in utilizing its PISA Centers for wider stakeholder and citizen engagement to crowdsource the voices and perceptions of Basotho for sustainable development.
UN Youth Advisory Panel Members played a crucial role in this partnership as they held runner up district consultations harnessing the collective intelligence of Basotho to inform the review of focus on SDGs to the VNR.
UN Youth Advisory Panel Members visited various PISA Centres across the country to crowdsource problems, local solutions, achievements and lessons learnt of citizens in the implementation of SDGs, challenges they are facing on a daily basis respectively.
Most interesting were the VNR Voices shared below:
SDG 4- Quality Education ( Keneuoe Semphi) Mafeteng
Every child has the right to quality and equitable education and as the youth, we acknowledge and appreciate the efforts made to ensure that every child has access education, efforts like the Free Primary Education for All, the school feeding scheme, introduction of the special education program in LEC, NUL and others.
However we can’t overlook the fact that these modes of education are not accessible and equitable to every child. We only have two schools for VIP learners and one high school for those with hearing and speech impairments countrywide. The VIPs still don’t have access to books and other learning material and we say, because the SDGs reference disability, we call for implementation strategies that are disability sensitive and further recommend placement of qualified, special education teacher, and the provision of accessible learning materials at schools in all the 10 districts.
This will enable learners with disabilities to have equal access to quality and equitable education without having to migrate to Maseru like the non-disabled. Education is a right, and because it is a right for all, not just for the privileged, we strongly call for a rights-based approach to inclusive, quality and equitable education to ensure that even a child in remote and hard to reach areas, completes a full cycle of quality education.
SDG 8- Decent Work and Economic Growth (Zwelithini Matsoso) Qacha’s Nek
Unemployment is one of the biggest issues that this country has, some of the most apparent causes of this is politicization of job positions, nepotism, favoritism. People are not hired on the basis of merit, and this hinders the economic growth of our country and the individual livelihoods of everyone, especially young people.
People are exploited in informal employment sectors, and our patriarchal society puts young women in an impossible position, where they are expected to trade their bodies and sexual favours for employment. Despite this there is a large number of youth who are showing potential and making efforts towards propelling their own lives through entrepreneurship. We suggest that small trade centres which showcase local produce and products be developed in each district in order to remedy this.
SDG 10- Reduced Inequalities ( Matseliso Motsoane) Thaba-tseka
While we recognize the progress our government has made in empowering women and young girls through education, anti-GBV campaigns and other efforts, we believe that to achieve a truly equal society, it is of extreme importance that the institutions of learning, employment and government are decentralized to afford every citizen an equal chance.
We need to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor and eliminate any kind of corruption and politicization of job positions and opportunities. Every citizen of this country, every young person, has the right to fair treatment and protection against discrimination. Our infrastructure and institutions need to recognize and prioritize the needs of people with disabilities. Our schools and places of employment should re-evaluate the influence of religion and its potential to deny some of the most basic social needs, and rights of our people, especially the young.
For example, the influence of religion on our laws fundamentally marginalizes the LGBTI community, young girls who are pregnant are still expelled from some of the schools in our country, some churches outcast congregants who partake in traditional practices such as initiation. People with disabilities, the LGBTI community, women and anyone that forms part of a minority group in Lesotho, is as much a citizen as the rest of us.
We align ourselves with the principle of “Leave No One Behind” and urge every stakeholder and citizen to prioritize this principle in their individual and joint efforts to implement and achieve ALL the SDGs.
SDG 13-Climate Action (‘Mafumane Lephoto) Semonkong
“To combat climate change we must conserve our rangelands and natural resources, we should not graze our animals on wetlands and we should not build houses on the wetlands, Lesotho has a lot of water that should be used to generate electricity for people in the rural areas so that they stop using cow dung, wood and shrubs for cooking and heating houses as this pollutes the environment”.
Initiatives for restoring ecosystems run by Caritas Lesotho, World Vision, Catholic Relief Services and other NGOs should be distributed and made accessible across the country.
SDG 16- Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions (Felleng Machake) Leribe
We are grateful of the court built in the Leribe district and hope it will help in reducing crime rates and dealing with the perpetrators accordingly. The restriction policy of under-aged children crossing borders without parents consent has also been a success.
The unstable politics always lead us into prompt and costly elections. We therefore recommend that a decentralization policy be implemented, denying power to be vested in one body; this could happen through the formation of regional governments.
All citizens should be the same before the law regardless of their positions and state. All the judicial officials should be trained to be sign language literate.