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Inheritance rights training in Lesotho reaches thousands

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Advocacy posters are displayed in a community member’s house.

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The whole family in front of their house. Each of these family members will benefit from the information about inheritance rights.

In a short period of just six months, from July through December 2009, HFH Lesotho directly reached 25,376 people in Lesotho with valuable inheritance rights information. This is nearly 1,400 more than initially planned.

This Secure Tenure and Safe Space project was designed to complement HFH Lesotho’s current Orphan and Vulnerable Children (OVC) program, which includes providing decent shelter for OVC families in addition to advocating for the inheritance rights of women and children to prevent illegal property-grabbing.

Specifically, this project intended to enhance HFH Lesotho’s existing advocacy efforts by re-deploying 30 trained paralegals into the communities to provide more families, schools, and individuals with information about their property rights. It also aimed to increase media outreach on inheritance rights through pamphlets, newspaper public service announcements, and radio programs. The campaign involved community-based outreach, assistance in will creation, development and distribution of print materials, radio programs, and newspaper coverage in order to raise awareness on secure tenure.

In addition to the community based outreach, HFH Lesotho developed and produced new advocacy-related print materials to enhance the campaign. HFH Lesotho designed new posters, calendars, public service announcements, and improved training manuals covering topics such as property dispossession, will creation, and marriage laws. The materials were primarily in Sesotho, with images and cartoon scenarios included to help illustrate and simply legal concepts. HFH Lesotho designed and printed 6000 calendars, 3000 posters, and 4000 simplified training manuals, in addition to reprinting 3000 copies of previously designed pamphlets and brochures. Altogether, HFH Lesotho printed 16,000 print materials for community distribution.

HFH Lesotho also aired six radio programs focusing on secure tenure and inheritance rights. Three programs were aired on the Harvest FM station and three were aired through Radio Lesotho. The topics covered included marriages, land issues and inheritance Rights. For the Harvest FM shows, HFH Lesotho presented alongside government representatives from the Office of Master of the High Court.

With an ambitious goal of creating 60 new property wills, HFH Lesotho encouraged its 30 paralegals to try and encourage one family to write a will each month over a period of three months. While paralegals can inform individuals on the benefits of writing property wills it is ultimately up to the individual to decide whether or not he/she will do so. Furthermore, paralegals assist in the writing, but individuals must be committed to discussing how they want to distribute their property. In the end, 76 legal documents were created – 59 wills and 17 civil marriage certificates.

See an audio slideshow of the work done with OVC’s in Lesotho.