As part of scaling up the response to poverty housing, Habitat Lesotho introduced the Advocacy program whose main objective is to promote policies and systems that advance access to decent, affordable housing with secure tenure, clean water and safe sanitation. This includes advocating for property and inheritance rights through registration of wills as well as, acquisition of proper land rights accreditation to curb property grabbing.
Additionally, Habitat Lesotho aims to facilitate the review of legislation, regulations, procedures and processes that would help support vulnerable households to access land and adequate housing through strategies that will eliminate barriers and constraints in this sector.
Primary Strategic Goal: Promote policies and systems change which directly have influence on land and security of tenure to increase access to adequate shelter particularly for women.
Primary Strategic Objectives: Improving access to land, adequate and affordable shelter through policy reform for disadvantaged groups (women, orphans, the elderly and people with disabilities)
Summary: Access to land is important for development and poverty reduction, hence is regarded as a main asset which the majority of people depend on to sustain their livelihoods, in particular, the rural and urban poor. The Malaysian journal on human rights asserted that, land ownership is fundamental to a social safety net as a source for shelter, food and income among others. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights article 25 noted further that, “… everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.” Despite the declaration, communities and individuals are still faced with challenges related to land rights and ownership, thus threatening their fundamental human rights of owning land for housing.
In Lesotho, major legislative and institutional reforms were made such as, 2010 Land Act and the 2006 Legal Capacity of Married Persons Act 9 aimed at curbing the challenges faced by many Basotho, particularly the vulnerable groups in relation to land rights and ownership. Recently, strides have been made to enact the National Housing Policy (NHP) which is expected to respond and address these challenges. Notwithstanding the efforts done, land rights and ownership still pose a challenge, in particular, for the vulnerable groups such as, children, women, the elderly and people with disabilities. This in turn, affects a series of their basic human rights negatively. For instance, in a desk review carried out in 2016 by Habitat Lesotho in partnership with a consultant to identify the gaps in government policies and systems, one of the key findings discussed was “…that security of tenure is significant, although experiences of forced removal in the recent past may constitute a source of tenure insecurity, especially amongst peri-urban households”. Additionally, accessibility to housing was unsatisfactory in terms of meeting the specific needs of disadvantaged groups, such as women, orphans, the elderly and persons with disabilities. Habitat Lesotho through the advocacy program, aims to promote and influence policies and systems change which directly have an influence on land and security of tenure to increase access to adequate shelter with more consideration of disadvantaged groups.
The desk review identified and discussed security of tenure; affordability; habitability/decent and safe homes; availability of improved water and sanitation, as well as household energy sources for cooking and lighting; and accessibility which are key factors of poverty housing in Lesotho. The report also noted and discussed four key barriers to access housing and land and these were, land and housing delivery systems (categorised into formal and informal); low incomes and poverty; housing finance and a dysfunctional land market. Land and housing delivery systems are categorised into formal and informal systems.
In order for Habitat Lesotho to achieve this, partnering with key stakeholders and establishing effective coalitions enables Habitat Lesotho to develop and promote policy positions as well as carry out actions jointly to attain the intended advocacy outcome. Recently Habitat Lesotho led the formation of a National Advocacy platform made up of stakeholders from Ministry of Local Government and Chieftainship, Land Administration Authority, Maseru City Council, World Vision Lesotho, National University of Lesotho and Lesotho Housing and Development Corporation, the Ministry of Public Works and Transport. The team, which is recognized by the Honourable Minister of Local Government and Chieftainship legitimately, and participates in its meetings with his Principal Secretary, plays a pivotal role in advancing efforts to policy and systems change aimed at advancing easy access to land for housing particularly for disadvantaged groups such as women, orphans, the elderly and people with disabilities. In particular, Habitat Lesotho will be able to take action with its advocates and in coalition. In turn, this demonstrate Habitat Lesotho’s advocacy successes supported by recorded evidence.
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