As plans to re-structure the capital city emerge
MASERU – Bringing government officials, stakeholders together in a strong network of communities, financial partners and the state to seek solutions to improve people’s lives in their dwellings is local government minister, Lebona Lephema’s key priority towards building a Lesotho wanted by its citizens. This emerged during a validation workshop of the Maseru City-wide Strategy Action plan – which is linked to addressing the issue of slums and informal settlements by ensuring that the economic, physical, environmental and social connectivity in the city.
Lephema noted that Basotho are an empathetic people, and that this should lead to it being everyone’s responsibility to work hard and build a better Lesotho. The minister said Lesotho still has the chance to be better than most countries across the globe. “There is nothing that can stop Basotho from achieving all that they need achieve,” he stated, adding that “it is time to stop being self-centred but to serve Basotho and the country because when a section of the nation goes hungry, we will cannibalise and steal from each other.
Moreover, Prime Minister Matekane invited us to unite and see if we cannot make a difference. It is our responsibility as Basotho to make sure that this happens, there is still a chance.” Lebona further asked that all the sectors present to help create a country which will be a warm abode for every Mosotho, to stay in their own country and stop migrating to foreign countries to seek employment. He stated that, as a new government they have been given power and have the skills to bring change.
“You should be proud that during your days in office as government officials you will strive to make a better Lesotho. It is about time that Basotho change their world views. They should take ownership to make sure that there is change in this country. You should be committed to build a better nation, and I also propose that each of you sets a timeframe for what you desire to achieve after this workshop because you have already started working hard to change our country,” he said.
Maseru is the largest city in Lesotho and has been experiencing rapid urbanisation and expanding informal settlements that have led the population into living in slum conditions. Since 2012, and the realisation of upgrading slums, UN-Habitat’s PSUP has worked with the government of Lesotho to improve, develop knowledge, mobilise partners and inform policy development aimed at improving living conditions of people living in the informal settlements. ’Malesekele Matekane, UN-Habitat’s PSUP coordinator, said at the same event that they have the challenge of unplanned residential areas which lead to rapid growth of slums.
“International definition explains slums as unplanned residentials, lacks good water supply, lease supply also lacks of sanitation. 70 percent of Lesotho areas are classified as slums,” she said. She indicated that they have taken a step forward to see how they can find the solution for this matter. This is where they came up with the policy to use which will help them upgrade the slums. “We came up with the policy aimed at upgrading those areas which is called Lesotho Nation Slum Upgrading Strategy together with City-wide Action Plan.
In this action plan the consultants agreed that we start with the challenges affecting Maseru then the other cities will follow, of which we discovered that the main problem is unplanned residentials,” Matekane continued. “We still have a challenge of political directive where we refuse to give building permits to buildings that are not well planned,” she explained.
On behalf of the consultants, Lead Consultant ‘Mantai Seeko said this strategic action’s main purpose is to upgrade the existing slums then prevent the growth of other slums. She added this upgrading ranges from whether there are laws governing this matter.
She added that the action plan is to detail possible interventions that can slow down the rapid growth of slums. The action plan is aimed at improving the living conditions of people living in these areas. “There are sites that are too small to have a house in it but we do have people living in those areas for example Katlehong the sites are less than 75m2 we also have places which are 1000m2 like sites in Maseru West where one site can cover up to four sites which needs to re-fertilised. Land management strategy are also needed because in this town of Maseru there is too much soil but it is highly underutilised,”
She stated that both solid and liquid infrastructure is still a major challenge in the city of Maseru that needs to be addressed so that Maseru is re-structured.; and that Maseru City Council has to work together with all the lead agencies involved to make this possible. “We should not leave anybody behind because this is an inclusive strategy,” she concluded. PSUP was founded in 2008 as a tripartite initiative of the Secretariat of the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP), the European Commission and UN-Habitat.
In more than 40 countries and 190 cities, national and local authorities followed the programmes call for action. They are now investing in strategic, participatory slum upgrading activities and sustainable urbanization together with the local communities in their countries and cities. PSUP also operates through non-governmental organisations, the private sector and universities worldwide.