MDIH Land and Gender Activity

Project details




Millennium Challenge Account - Lesotho II (MCA-L II)

Project Timeframe

May 2024 - April 2029

Key Services

Gender, Community & Inclusion

Land Administration

Project Narrative

The Lesotho 2 Compact is an agreement between the US government-funded Millenium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and the Kingdom of Lesotho (GoL). It constitutes a $US300 million programme to address binding constraints to economic growth in Lesotho. The Lesotho 2 compact consists of three projects designed to combat constraints to economic growth by either strengthening private sector participation and/or by improving government coordination, capacity and execution.

The Lesotho Land and Gender activity (L&G Activity), supports the Lesotho Millennium Challenge Account-II (MCA-Lesotho II) to meet the objectives of the Market Driven Irrigation Horticulture (MDIH) Project within the Lesotho 2 Compact. The MDIH project aims to increase rural incomes related to commercial horticulture, including for women, youth and the rural poor, and to establish a sustainable and inclusive model of irrigation, water and land resource management. It involves the construction of irrigation infrastructure and the attraction of commercial farmers to collaborate with local smallholder farmers to produce high-value crops and build strong value chains in four scheme areas – Tsoili Tsoili, Manka, Likhakeng (all three in Leribe District) and Phamong (Mohale’s Hoek district). To this end, the MDIH Project is dependent upon the identification of one or more commercial anchor farmers. Specifically, a key condition prior to working in the four schemes and construction of the irrigation infrastructure is that the MCA-Lesotho II identifies a commercial investor (i.e. anchor farmer) willing to invest in the irrigation scheme.

Key Services Provided

The L&G Activity works at two levels to support the MDIH Project. First, it supports the institutional reforms and gender-related aspects of the MDIH project to ensure that strong legal and policy frameworks are in place to facilitate the growth of irrigation throughout the country in an equitable and sustainable way. Within this framework, the L&G Activity will also provide inputs to the Rural Land Registration System (RLRS) at the national, regional and local levels so that rural land market participants, including land allottees of irrigable land under schemes, can obtain registered land leases in an efficient, fair and cost-effective manner, and that these processes are fully reflective of gender equity under the law, including new gender reforms.

Second, the L&G Activity supports action within the scheme once the condition precedent has been met for that scheme (i.e. the identification of an anchor farmer). Specific actions include technical assistance and support to Community Councils in identifying landholders, confirm land rights, conduct land use planning, support landholders to decide how they want to use irrigated land parcels and issue registered leases for each irrigated parcel in the names of the landholders. Much of this work at the Scheme level will need to be coordinated with two other MDIH Consultancies – the Resettlement and Livelihood Services (RLS Consultancy) and the Transaction Advisor. The Transaction Advisor will support the formation of legal agreements for use of land and agricultural production between smallholder farmers, land holders and commercial investors whilst the RLS Consultancy will support any resettlement and compensation requirements for those that opt-out of participation in the irrigation scheme.

The L&G Activity is led by Land Equity International (LEI), in collaboration with two Lesotho organisations – RSDA, Gender Links – and the international consultancy firm Tetra Tech. It has been designed as a 5-year project. It commenced on 10th May 2024 and will run for a period of 5 years. It is divided into 18 Tasks and these are split between Base and Options Work Tasks. The Base Work include tasks that will be completed independent of any work in the four irrigation schemes, and which can be completed at any time during the course of the contract period (this is mostly work at the national level on land and gender reforms). The tasks in the Options Work Tasks concern those within the four irrigation scheme areas and require the MCA to confirm the exercise of that option before work can begin. As noted above, this is when an anchor farmer is identified for each scheme.

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