Empowering Young Mothers in Rural Lesotho
Overview: In 2018-2019, UNICEF funded a Help Lesotho project to reach 150 young mothers in rural Lesotho (Butha Buthe and Thaba Tseka). This is the first year of a three year funding commitment.
Problem: A major obstacle in Lesotho is the low demand among adolescents to access Sexual and Reproductive Health(SRH)/HIV services—especially amongst pregnant girls and young women.
Objective: UNICEF and Help Lesotho are supporting the Ministry of Health to increase the knowledge and change the attitudes of 150 adolescent mothers (age 15-24) in Butha Buthe and Thaba-Tseka districts. The intervention will contribute to generate demand of SRH/HIV services and increase access to health and social services.
M&E Framework and Indicators:
A monthly Well-being Checklist covered the following areas:
- Health: Access to health care services, testing for HIV, Knowledge about HIV/AIDS, child immunization, exclusive breastfeeding, pre-natal and post natal care, contraceptives and condom use, and knowledge about SRH;
- Psychological Support: Depression and anxiety, stress, grief and loss, anger and conflict management, communication skills, healthy relationships with family members and partners, quality time with children and support network;
- Education: Right and opportunities to education, early childhood education, child stimulation;
- Food and Nutrition: Nutritional needs for reproductive women, and infant and young child feeding;
- Protection: Rights to protection against abuse and violence, birth certificates, IDs, baby birth certificates; and
- Economic Strengthening: Skills on income generating activities (IGAs), and generating own income.
Year One Key Achievements:
- 150 young mothers trained on life skills, sexual and reproductive health, gender-based violence, and HIV education;
- 15 peer support networks established in rural communities;
- + 40% in partner testing;
- + 60% in YMs consistently accessing condoms;
- + 49% in YMs received antenatal care within the last 30 days;
- + 35% in YMs coping ‘’a lot’’ with depression and anxiety;
- + 39% in YMs feeding children with enough protein, vegetables and fruits 1-2X/day; and
- + 46% in YMs generating income (more than R100 per week).
“I visited my boyfriend who stays in Sehong Hong three years ago. When It was time for me to return home he refused and told me that I am married to him. I wanted to continue schooling but my boyfriend refused stating that I had to concentrate on household chores, shortly I got pregnant and the man who used to be caring began to physically abuse me, accusing me for having extra marital affairs with other village men. I reported the ill-treatment to my mother who advised me to go back home. Life was very difficult for me, I could hardly meet the daily needs for myself and my daughter who is now two years old. The training, support and starter pack I received from Help Lesotho and my peers helped me a lot, for the past three months I made approximately M400 profit and was able to re-stock. I am very glad because I managed to register to go back to school next year. I used the money I generated from the starter pack to pay registration fees and I can be in a position to buy food and to take myself and my child to hospital when we are sick.”