Lesotho, also known as the kingdom in sky, only holds a population of 2.1 million people however 14 per cent, around 135,000, of its professionals have already migrated across the border to South Africa.
This is according to the ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific States) Observatory on Migration, an initiative funded by the European Union and implemented by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
The organisation stated that many Basotho professionals such as teachers, doctors, nurses and engineers continue to relocate and take up South African citizenship.
Lesotho’s health sector in particular has been the most severely affected. Currently, there are five physicians and 62 nurses for every 100,000 people in the country, which is far from the United Nation’s minimum threshold level of 2.5 health workers per 1,000 people.
Bastho healthcare workers argue that better pay and working conditions are offered in their neighbouring country South Africa, as well as in the United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK).
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As a means to resolve this, the IOM has partnered with Lesotho’s government officials to launch the “Mobilising Medical Diaspora Resources for Lesotho” project, which aims to attract and mobilise health professionals in South Africa, the UK and the US to fill the critical labour shortages in Lesotho’s health space.
The IOM will therefore conduct a two-day diaspora engagement training for Lesotho government officials and partners from the 27 to 28 May 2014 in Maseru to ensure that the project is implemented smoothly.
“This training will help us to lay a solid foundation for an effective, long-term and sustainable national diaspora engagement programmes in Lesotho,” said Erick Ventura, chief of mission of IOM South Africa.
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Members attending the two day training include officials from various bodies such as the National Consultative Committee (NCC) for Migration and Development, the Ministries of Health, Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs, Basotho diaspora associations as well as private sector firms.
Discussions will focus around issues such as migration and development, diaspora skills transfer mechanisms, diaspora tourism as well as the essential elements of a diaspora policy.