Include the virtual economic boom during the late

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include the virtual economic boom during the late 1980s spawned by the construction activities related to the Lesotho Highland Water Project (LHWP); the surge in export manufactures due to the preferential garment sector access to the U.S. market under the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA); and the receipts accruing to Lesotho under the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) revenue-sharing arrangement Since the late nineties, several factors have conspired to change the favourable external environment so conducive to the country’s socio-economic progress. The number of migrant workers has been cut in half as a result of the closure of some of the South African mines, with serious adverse implications not only for the families of these retrenched workers, but also for the national economy as a whole. In addition, the construction activities associated with the LHWP have also ended, while the virtual boom associated with the rapid expansion in the garment sector (generating cumulative employment of nearly 50,000 over the last decade) has also tapered off. These reversals have led to dwindling domestic job opportunities in the face of increasing returning retrenched migrant miners and a growing number of new labour force entrants (by some estimates, unemployment is as high as 40 percent). The result is growing chronic poverty (nearly 60 percent of the population is estimated to be below the poverty line). But, the most frightening development in recent times is the devastating impact of the high and increasing prevalence of HIV/AIDS, currently estimated at 29 percent of the adult population aged 15 – 49. This factor alone threatens to negate all the socio-economic gains of the last three decades. In fact, if current trends continue, Lesotho’s chances of making progress towards the achievement of all the other Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will be severely circumscribed. Already, life expectancy (expected to reach 60 years in 2001) has been reduced to 49 years because of the epidemic. Lesotho’s agricultural production has been threatened by recurring droughts since late 2001. This has led to a recurring humanitarian crisis of severe food insecurity, compounded by chronic poverty and the impact of HIV/AIDS. Since July 2002, Lesotho has been dependent on food aid to supplement local production and commercial imports. It is against this background that it has become imperative for the UN System to revise all its country assistance strategies towards supporting national efforts in responding to this multiple crisis of HIV/AIDS, chronic poverty and food insecurity. This calls for a new UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), which in turn requires a new approach to conducting the underpinning UN Common Country Assessment.
6 3.

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