UNDP Regional Director for Africa Ahunna Eziakonwa delivering her remarks at the Second Regular Session of the Joint UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS Executive Board. Photo: UNDP

Mr President,

Distinguished Members of the Executive Board,

Representatives of the Governments of Benin, Equatorial Guinea, Lesotho, Namibia, Senegal, and South Sudan,

Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to present the Country Programme Documents for Benin, Equatorial Guinea, Lesotho, Namibia, Senegal, and South Sudan to the Second Regular Session of the Joint UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS Executive Board for approval.

All six Country Programmes were developed in consultation with the national governments as well as key national and international stakeholders. They are aligned to national development plans and priorities. They are anchored in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and are guided by the UNDP Strategic Plan. They demonstrate a clear commitment to the principles of equality and leaving no one behind.

The Programmes present a sample of the diverse development contexts in which we work and the varied development approaches we apply in supporting the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. They represent crisis countries, low/high middle-income contexts, as well as Least Developed Countries.

Yesterday, you heard from the UNDP Administrator Mr. Steiner about the extraordinary innovations in the Strategic Plan that are now being rolled out. These six CPDs will be among the first generation of CPDs to benefit from the full implementation of what the SP offers – from innovation labs to signature solutions to country support platforms, and to high quality policy advisory services to governments. They will also benefit from UNDP’s Gender Equality Strategy which Abdoulaye Mar Dieye presented to you yesterday. These Country Programmes will be implemented in the era of a reinvigorated and re-designed UN Development System currently under reform.

Mr. President, distinguished members of the Executive Board,

Allow me to give you a brief overview of the six country programmes:

1. THE BENIN REPUBLIC:

Benin is among the most stable democracies and economies in Africa. It has recorded successive democratic elections with six peaceful political transitions.

The country has a record of strong annual economic growth of 5 percent over the past decade, largely driven by public and private investments in the agricultural and services sectors. Despite this progress, Benin is still a Least Developed Country, with a GDP per capita of only 833 USD in 2017, a high poverty rate of 40.1 percent, higher for populations in rural areas. Poverty and inequality persist, due to weak competitiveness, insufficient diversification of economic growth sources among other constraints. The Country Programme (2019-2023) is focused on breaking the cycle of poverty and inequality. It will support the government in building a more inclusive and resilient society, with sustainable and shared economic growth. This will be combined with reforms to promote good governance and the rule of law, by building the capacities of the public administration and local institutions to invest in a green economy. We will work closely with the government and partners to improve the delivery of basic services and strengthen community participation in formulating and implementing public policies. Benin has made remarkable progress, joining a growing list of African countries to localize and cost the SDGs. UNDP will build upon this to support the establishment of an SDG acceleration platform to facilitate integrated and innovative data-driven solutions.

Mr. President, distinguished members of the Executive Board,

2. THE REPUBLIC OF EQUITORIAL GUINEA 

In the case of Equatorial Guinea, the country is an Upper Middle-Income Country (MIC) and Net Contributing Country (NCC). It depends largely on hydrocarbons, with oil and gas accounting for more than 85 percent of its Gross Domestic Product, and more than 94 percent of exports. The government’s development agenda is guided by the National Economic and Social Development Plan (2007-2020), also known as Horizonte 2020. Although the country has a very high GNI per capita ($10,890 in 2015), its socio-economic data is comparable to low-income economies because the GDP growth has not translated into improvement in the lives of the people. While poverty rates decreased from 76.8 percent in 2006 to 43.7 percent in 2011, poverty rates and rural-urban inequalities remain high.

The UNDP Country Programme (2019-2023) is based on a two-pillar approach emphasizing (i) inclusive and sustainable development, and (ii) strengthening governance and accountability. Through the Country Programme, we will support economic diversification and promote investments in technology and innovation, particularly in sectors such as agriculture, fisheries, manufacturing and services.

Mr. President, distinguished members of the Executive Board,

3. THE KINGDOM OF LESOTHO:

In Lesotho, (where I had the privilege of serving for four years as RR/RC), development progress has been adversely affected by the country’s long history of political instability. Lesotho is landlocked/country locked Although classified as a lower middle-income country, it remains among the Least

Development Countries (LDCs), ranking 160th out of 188 countries on the Human Development Index. Lesotho’s economy is highly vulnerable to both domestic and external shocks, facing numerous challenges including limited diversification and high dependence on a few sectors (including mining and textile), high reliance on foreign capital inflows, high unemployment, and effects of extreme climatic conditions. Lesotho is listed among the top 10 most unequal countries in the world and has high levels of poverty with 57.1 percent of its people living below the poverty line of $1.25 per day.

In late 2017, the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho, with UNDP’s support, developed a comprehensive National Reforms Framework and Roadmap to guide restructuring aimed at transforming Lesotho into a peaceful, stable and prosperous country. Building on this, UNDP through the new Country Programme, will support the implementation of inclusive national reforms of the political and constitutional institutions and public sectors. The Country Programme (2019 – 2023) is aligned to the Kingdom’s second National Strategic Development Plan. The proposed programme focuses on three pillars: (i) good governance and accountable institutions designed to strengthen institutional leadership, citizen participation and mechanisms for maintaining social peace; (ii) acceleration of inclusive growth to build resilience to external volatility through employment creation; and (iii) sound environmental management to further address resilience linked to climate change adaptation.

Mr. President, distinguished members of the Executive Board,

4. NAMIBIA:

In the case of Namibia, the Country Programme places UNDP’s support within the context of its status as an upper Middle-Income Country as well as its progress in the Sustainable Development Goals by aligning policy advice with implementation and capacity of national partners. Namibia has achieved one of the fastest reductions in poverty on the continent. However, the country struggles with high levels of inequality (Gini coefficient of 0.560), and unemployment levels continue to be high. The country’s poverty rate currently stands at 18 percent. The Programme recognizes the Namibian economy’s heavy reliance on natural resource extraction for export and identifies the weakness of institutions and systems as obstacles to service delivery.

The new Country Programme (2019-2023) addresses persistent poverty and vulnerability, particularly in rural areas. It also focuses on tackling inequailty. It will apply three complementary and integrated pathways: (i) diversified employment, pro-poor income and sustainable livelihoods for women, youth, persons with disabilities and marginalised populations; (ii) sustainable environmental management and enhanced resilience to shocks and crises; and (iii) effective, accountable and inclusive governance, through promoting civic engagement and ensuring respect for Human Rights and Rule of Law. Implementation of the Namibia Country Programme will build on innovations such

as the partnership with the Yahoo Japan Corporation in renewable energy technologies, research, innovation and intelligent surveillance for curbing the illegal wildlife trade.

Mr. President, distinguished members of the Executive Board,

5. SENEGAL:

Senegal, like Benin, is among the fastest growing economies in the world, sustaining an average of 7 percent growth rate since 2014. Similar to other countries in this region however, the country still faces persistent poverty and inequality, especially in rural areas. Senegal’s primary challenge is how to accelerate efforts for more inclusive growth while maintaining high growth rates. To address this challenge by 2035, Senegal adopted the Plan for the Emergence in 2014 to trigger dynamic economic expansion and improve the well-being of its citizens, including through strengthening the performance of central and local governments to support development priorities, provide quality public services, and address the low resilience of communities and ecosystems; quite similar to the Bangladesh model of empathy training presented yesterday during the Administrator’s speech.

The new UNDP Country Programme for Senegal builds on the successful implementation of the first phase of the innovative Programme d'Urgence de Développement Communautaire (PUDC). It will support the Government’s ambition to eradicate poverty, significantly reduce inequalities and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Mr. President, distinguished members of the Executive Board,

Last, but not least:

6. THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH SUDAN:

South Sudan remains highly fragile. Decades of conflict have led to a proliferation of weapons, threatening community safety and limiting socioeconomic development. Gross human rights violation is prevalent owing to the weak rule of law and lack of good governance and weakened institutional capacity. South Sudan ranks 181st out of 188 countries with a Human Development Index of 0.418, placing the country below the average for all Sub-Saharan Africa (0.523). UNDP’s strategy outlined in the Country Programme Document is informed by lessons learned in particular (i) Integrated programming through the New Way of Working – which ensures linkages between community cohesion, Rule of Law, policy and capacity development and livelihoods for sustained impact, (ii) South-South and Triangular Cooperation - drawing from regional and global partnerships to inform policy-making and programme implementation, and (iii) Gender equality and women empowerment - harmonizing and creating synergies for targeting women, persons with disabilities and youth across programming.

The South Sudan Country Programme Document (2019-2021) will contribute to eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions by focusing on three interlinked and mutually reinforcing pillars— (i) strengthening peace infrastructures and accountable governance (ii) building inclusive, risk-informed economic development, and (iii) strengthening institutional and community resilience. The Country Programme is aligned with the Vision 2040 and National Development Strategy (2018-2021), the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the United Nations Cooperation Framework (UNCF), as well as UNDP’s Strategic Plan (2018-2021).

LIBERIA: In addition to these country programmes, the Bureau is also presenting a one-year extension for Liberia.

Mr. President, distinguished members of the Executive Board,

All six programmes are underpinned by a common development reality and the principle of engagement to “leave no one behind” by targeting the most vulnerable. They also address poverty and exclusion, youth unemployment, and women’s empowerment. Programme interventions will promote south-south cooperation, foster inclusive growth, deepen democratic dividend and sustain peace to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Increasingly, our approach is to help countries’ journey towards structural transformation – and doing so through reinvigorated partnerships for purpose, including with private sector.

Mr. President, distinguished members of the Executive Board,

In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the distinguished Members of the Board for their support to UNDP, and to the Regional Bureau for Africa and to all programme countries under the Bureau’s responsibility.

I thank you for your attention.

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