Only a Week Left

Well, it’s been nearly two weeks since I posted anything, and now I’m down to one week left in Lesotho. Things have, as usual, been very busy for the last two weeks. But we are getting things going and generally getting things off to a good start. In fact, we had our Kick Off meeting this morning and it went quite well.

We are now a team of 8 people, although one leaves tomorrow. Then we are 7 for the next week, which will be great. It will really help with getting things done. The major push this week is going to be producing a major report that will lay out our plan for project implementation. And of course, I will likely spend most of my weekend working on it!

Last week we went to the field for a day so we finally got a chance to meet some people in one of the communities where the project will work. It is so important to get out of the office and into the field, first and foremost to understand the reality on the ground, but also to remember why we’re here. It is so easy to lose that focus when you are dealing with reams and reams of donor and government bureaucracy and protocols. We drove about an hour from Maseru to Berea and from there travelled about 30 minutes to a rural community of about 2000 people. There, we met with members of the water committee and were able to ask them about their situation. They told us how important it is to them to have clean water in their village.

I drove on the way there so wasn’t really able to look around – I was watching the road too closely for on-coming passing cars, people, cows, goats and potholes. But on the way back a colleague drove so I was able to get a look around. This country is absolutely breath-taking. I will post my photos when I get home! I now have quite a few.

To give you a brief overview of the country - Lesotho is a country of 1,800,000 people. It is land-locked and surrounded completely by South Africa. The entire country is above the elevation of 1,400m, and goes up to about 3,500m and it is called the Mountain Kingdom for a reason. The economy is based on diamond exports and water exports as well as some manufacturing. 75% of the population live in rural areas, and 40% of the population live on less than $1.25 per day. Here, women are better educated than men because traditionally the men go to South Africa to work in the mines, leaving the women to stay at home. This has resulted in a higher literacy rate for women, which is opposite to most other developing countries. Lesotho has the third highest HIV prevalence rate in the world, which is estimated at 23%. This is having a major impact on the development of the country. Life expectancy at birth is 42 years.

With respect to water, 74% of the rural population has access to improved water supply and 34% has access to improved sanitation. This project aims to provide 250 water systems and 30,000 latrines, serving 150,000 rural people. It is interesting in that we are not the ‘implementing entity’ as we are in Mozambique. Here, we are supporting the government to implement the project, with the aim of building capacity within the government for the long term. It is going to be very interesting!

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Posted in lesotho | travel | work Submitted by Meg on Fri, 2009-11-06 14:44

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