Spotlight on demographic dividend study



MASERU – The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) held a validation meeting for the Lesotho demographic dividend study which was launched in October 2021. The assessment was intended to monitor the potential for economic growth and to effect shifts in Lesotho’s population age structure. UNFPA Representative to Lesotho, Dr Marc Derveeuw, reaffirmed the UN agency’s support to the government of Lesotho in harnessing the demographic dividend.

To see this through, Dr Marc said availability of population data is pivotal for guiding policies, programmes and decision-making, highlighting that currently the national population statistics data is available and desegregated accordingly. “However, there is still a challenge in finding the readily available in-depth thematic analysis of such data, especially on population and development issues. The demographic dividend study is one of the efforts to address this challenge,” he said.

He further indicated that the demographic dividend study is one of the efforts to address challenges like; the impact of Covid-19 in the short and medium term, the potential effect of HIV infections on Lesotho’s demographic dividend with different scenarios of long-term funding of HIV prevention and treatment programmes, as well as conducting a demographic profile for Lesotho.

“The results from the demographic dividend study are essential in informing the developmental programmes and policies across all sectors in Lesotho and fulfil the commitment made at the African Union summit in 2016 to harness demographic dividend,” he added.

The results highlight, among other things, that Lesotho has a window of opportunity to harness the demographic dividend by focus of policies that will enhance the dividend and continue to ensure that the demand for family planning is met. The University of Cape Town was engaged to undertake this study as it has the relevant knowledge in this subject and has conducted similar studies in the Southern Africa region. The Ministry of Development Planning’s technical team confirmed the leadership and commitment of the ministry to make this exercise a success.

On behalf of the ministry, deputy principal secretary Teboho ’Mokela said the report comes at a time when all can attest to the weak economic performance, as shown by ever-escalating food and oil prices, rampant poverty, persisting unemployment, especially among young people, and high HIV/AIDS that the country is facing.

’Mokela said these, coupled with the Covid-19 effects, have worsened destitution and presented more vulnerability on the nation at large. She also noted that they are optimistic that the findings of the demographic dividend report will be used as a basis for the new development framework for Lesotho, noting that it will inform new strategies and interventions for education, health and governance as they are building blocks for successful realisation of demographic dividend.

“We need to expand access to quality education and skills development at vocational and tertiary levels. Greater investments are required in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to advance technology,” she noted. The empowerment of women and girls, particularly regarding educational opportunities and universal access to quality reproductive health knowledge and services, was also noted as critical. UNFPA provided technical and financial support to the government of Lesotho for the advanced population and development agenda.

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