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The U.S. government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho signed the $300 million Lesotho Health and Horticulture Compact today at the Manthabiseng National Convention Centre. The signing marks the second time the United States and Lesotho have partnered to build sustainable and inclusive economic growth for the people of Lesotho through an MCC compact.
MCC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Alice Albright and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations Honorable Matsepo Molise-Ramakoae served as the compact signatories. They were joined by U.S. Ambassador to Lesotho Maria E. Brewer, The Right Honorable the Prime Minister Dr. Moeketsi Majoro, and more than 200 government, community, and private-sector leaders from across the country.
Ambassador Brewer said, “This ceremony is a special day for the people of Lesotho because of what this compact will mean for the country’s economic development. All three projects under the MCC compact represent a tremendous investment in the people of Lesotho, in particular women, youth, and rural communities. We intend for the projects to create tens of thousands of jobs and encourage public-private development.”
MCC CEO Albright added, “During our previous compact, MCC and the Government of Lesotho helped rural families access basic healthcare through the construction and rehabilitation of more than 130 health centers, provided thousands of citizens with clean water, and improved commercial services such as land tenure security. Now, we are partnering with the Government of Lesotho to create jobs, a healthy workforce, and improve government’s ability to support the people of Lesotho and create sustainable and equitable economic growth.”
The Government of Lesotho has committed to passing several key reforms that will help ensure the compact’s success, including reforms that address gender equality, working conditions, and worker safety, as well as land and water rights.
The Lesotho Health and Horticulture Compact—an interest-free grant agreement —is comprised of three projects.
- The Health Systems Strengthening (HSS) project aims to improve primary healthcare services and standards of care, expand healthcare financial and management systems, and modernize health data systems.
- The Market Driven Irrigated Horticulture (MDIH) project aims to increase rural incomes by investing in climate-smart irrigation infrastructure and attracting commercial farmers to collaborate with local, small famers to produce high-value crops and build strong value chains. The MDIH project will also support government reforms and capacity to sustain inclusive and sustainable growth of this sector.
- The Business Environment and Technical Assistance (BETA) project plans to increase profits for potential high-growth firms, including enterprises owned by women and youth and firms in rural areas. The project will work across key productive sectors, including agriculture, creative industries, manufacturing, and tourism, to support the growth of existing and new firms through technical assistance, business development services, and linkages to financing opportunities. Grant funding will be available for select women-and youth-owned businesses to purchase equipment, goods, and facilitate business plan implementation.
MCC and the Government of Lesotho will now continue to work together on the compact’s administrative requirements, including establishment of the Lesotho government office that will manage the compact —Millennium Challenge Account –Lesotho.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation is an independent U.S. government development agency working to reduce global poverty through economic growth. Created in 2004, MCC provides time-limited grants that pair investments in infrastructure with policy and institutional reforms to countries that meet rigorous standards for good governance, fighting corruption, and respecting democratic rights.
For more information, please contact the Public Affairs Section at the U.S. Embassy in Maseru via email at InfoMaseru@state.gov.