Decentralised rural development

Project description

Title: Decentralised rural development in Lesotho
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Lesotho
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Local Government, Chieftainship and Parliamentarian Affairs
Overall term: 2003 to 2017

Lesotho. A trained herd boy explains to his younger co-worker about the proper use of condoms. © GIZ


Greater responsiveness to the needs of citizens, better living conditions derived from sustainable economic growth, and improved basic public services for the Basotho throughout the country – these are the most important objectives of Lesotho’s decentralisation policy. The municipal elections in 2005 and 2011 were major milestones in this process. However, unresolved questions regarding the mandates of local governments, a lack of clarity regarding the roles of the ministries and the local authorities, and reluctance to transfer decision-making powers to the new bodies are still having a negative impact on the effectiveness of the local authorities. Meanwhile, the AIDS pandemic is putting the country under additional strain.


Lesotho’s Government is more responsive to the needs of the country’s citizens, decentralised institutions have been established and the provision of basic public services to the population has improved.


GIZ is advising Lesotho on various aspects of decentralisation and is also coordinating the work of other German development cooperation organisations in this priority area. In the final phase of the programme, GIZ is concentrating on:

  • creating an enabling environment for decentralisation, for example by drafting and implementing a decentralisation policy
  • supporting various sectoral ministries, such as the Ministry of Forestry, in handing over functions to the local government level
  • ensuring greater and more effective use of the community centres built by the KfW Development Bank
  • ensuring the fight against HIV/AIDS is perceived as a cross-cutting task.

In Lesotho, GIZ has entered into a ‘silent partnership’ with the European Union and is co-financing the EU programme on the promotion of non-state actors with a total of EUR 3.5 million.

The consulting firm Institut für Projektplanung GmbH is supporting the project in impact monitoring and the implementation of the country’s decentralisation policy.

Lesotho. Farmers during the harvest in the Lesotho Highlands. © GIZ


With GIZ support, the Government of Lesotho has become more responsive to citizens’ needs and has advanced decentralisation, thus improving the provision of basic public services to the Basotho people. The following results have been achieved.

  • The first local government elections were held in 2005. This was followed in 2011 by a second round of elections. Some 49 per cent of the councillors are now women. Since the 2011 elections, 65 community councils, 11 urban councils and the city council of Maseru have taken up their work. The local councils are in turn administered by ten district councils.
  • Community councils are incorporating their own planning priorities into the district plans.
  • The communities now deliver specific services for people affected by HIV and AIDS.
  • The Ministry of Local Government plays a coordinating role in the implementation of the national decentralisation reform, and it supports the community and urban councils in planning and implementing their new functions. It also has a new strategic plan with clear priorities to implement the decentralisation reform and improve service delivery.
  • There is now greater awareness of the decentralisation process within the sector ministries; government officials at district level have been trained to perform new functions.
  • Several ministries are implementing a joint decentralisation action plan.
  • Community and urban councils are using a manual on land-use planning as guidance for their planning work.
  • The Lesotho Government has introduced a customised management system into the civil service and recruits increasingly people for official posts using a transparent selection procedure.