Trade, poverty reduction, and teamwork in Lesotho

21 November 2012

The Minister of Trade and Industry of Lesotho, the Deputy Secretary-General of UNCTAD, and several other officials described how UN agencies work effectively in one of Africa's least developed countries.

They spoke at the Palais des Nations in Geneva at a lunchtime event on "Poverty reduction through trade in Lesotho: An example of inter-agency coordination".

UNCTAD Deputy Secretary-General Petko Draganov described the role of the United Nations Inter-Agency Cluster on Trade and Productive Capacity, part of what is called the "One UN" process.

UNCTAD serves as the Cluster's lead agency.

"Productive capacity" refers to the ability of a country to produce a variety of goods, and goods of greater value and complexity, for export and domestic consumption. UNTAD has maintained for several years that improving productive capacity is the most effective and durable way for developing countries to grow economically, add jobs, and raise living standards.

"The interagency coordination that has now been well established in Lesotho for many years brings together the expertise of several UN agencies within the overall UN assistance plan, which is turn is fully aligned with the national development strategy," Mr. Draganov told the meeting.

"The case of Lesotho demonstrates that interagency coordination in the area of trade and related matters can work and can deliver."

Mr. Draganov said that through teamwork between the government, UNCTAD, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Resident Coordinator for Lesotho, and other agencies, the country is expanding on "traditional and new areas of economic activity related to trade that will push Lesotho towards a structural transformation of the economy in the next few years."

Temeki Tsolo, Minister of Trade and Industry, Marketing, and Cooperatives of Lesotho, described the country's economic situation in detail and said that a cooperative, comprehensive approach to expanding productive capacity is needed to reduce high levels of unemployment, improve infrastructure, increase investment, and respond effectively to a drought that has afflicted the country for the last two years.

"Agricultural growth linkages, in which there is a virtuous circle in which demand stimulus from agricultural growth generates investment, entrepreneurship, and employment in non-agricultural activities. . . are at the heart of efforts to create a more inclusive process of development which supports sustainable poverty reduction," the Minister said.

Also addressing the meeting were Alka Bhatia, Economic Advisor and Head of the Strategy and Policy Unit for UNDP in Lesotho; and Karla Robin Hershey, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Lesotho.