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First UN human rights expert to visit Lesotho – water and sanitation

Sesotho version

GENEVA (29 January 2019) – The UN expert on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, Léo Heller, will make a landmark visit to Lesotho from 4 to 15 February 2019. Mr. Heller, the first UN rights expert to visit the country, will assess how Lesotho’s legal, policy and institutional framework ensures access to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene.

“I look forward to learning about what access people in Lesotho have to water and sanitation in the western lowlands, the eastern plateaus and the mountainous highlands,” Mr. Heller said.

“With approximately half of the population in Lesotho under 24 years old, I will also focus on access to water and sanitation in education facilities ranging from pre-schools to universities and the impact on early child development,” he added.

“I will also pay special attention to the role of development cooperation and impact of mega-projects* in the water and sanitation sector in Lesotho including the largest water transfer scheme in Africa, the Lesotho Highlands Water Project,” said the UN expert.

Mr. Heller will travel to Maseru, Mohale’s Hoek, Mokhotlong and Quthing. He will meet central and local district government officials, representatives from funding bodies and civil society, including non-governmental aid organizations and members of the international community.

A news conference to share the expert’s preliminary findings will be held in Maseru on 15 February, at 10:00 local time at the UN Conference Hall (United Nations House, 13 UN Road, Maser). Access is strictly limited to journalists.

The Special Rapporteur will present a comprehensive report on his visit to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in September 2019.


Mr. Léo Heller (Brazil) is the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, appointed in November 2014. He is a researcher in the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Brazil and was previously Professor of the Department of Sanitary and Environmental Engineering at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil from 1990 to 2014.

* Mr. Heller will submit a report to the UN General Assembly in 2019 focused on the impact of mega-projects on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation -- an important issue related to the access to water for the population of Lesotho.

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Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Lesotho 

For more information and media requests, please contact:
During the mission: Ms Ahreum Lee +41 79-752 0485 /

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact:
Mr. Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org

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