IGAD and UNDP have agreed to collaborate closely over the coming years in promoting resilience and borderlands development in the Horn of Africa and to develop a Joint IGAD-UNDP Integrated Programme. The agreement was made at a joint workshop held in Nairobi, Kenya. Present at the workshop were over 65 participants, eight UNDP country offices from the Horn of Africa and in the IGAD region including UNDP’s regional presence in the Arab states and IGAD Senior staff members from across the regional organization. Notably, key partners of the resilience and borderlands work included the African Union, Special Envoy for the Horn, the World Bank, GIZ, Sweden, EU, Japan, UNEP and the Life and Peace Institute were represented. UNDP and IGAD convened this workshop.
As the co-convenor of the workshop, Executive Secretary of IGAD, His Excellency Dr Workneh Gebeyehu expressed that ‘the partnership is built on the principle of an alliance that capitalizes on the complementarity of mandates and convergence of capacities between IGAD and UNDP’ which with further coordination, the two organizations’ respective comparative advantages ‘can unlock untold synergies and realize the true potential of multilateralism to deliver sustainable development, peace and prosperity for borderland communities in the region’.
UNDP hosted the event in Nairobi and was spearheaded by two projects working in Africa’s borderlands and development resilience building, namely; the Africa Borderlands Centre and the Nairobi Resilience Hub. The Africa Borderlands Centre is a research and knowledge centre committed to innovative development programmes unique to borderland regions in Africa. While the Nairobi Resilience Hub aims to build resilience in Africa to prevent and better handle development shocks such as natural disaster due to climate change and conflict.
‘We at the Africa Borderlands Centre believe that in many of these regions, insecurity and poverty disguise the true socio-economic potential of borderlands and their communities. UNDP fully shares IGAD’s vision for a resilient, peaceful, prosperous, and integrated region’, said Zeynu Ummer, Team Lead and Senior Technical Advisor at the UNDP Africa Borderlands Centre as he emphasized the complementarity of UNDP and IGAD with its long history of collaboration.
Africa at large is a region of enormous potential, a hub for trade and commerce, innovation and digital adaptation, a transit to the world, with natural resources, a youthful population and some of the fastest growing economies in Africa. However, the fragility of some regions due to poverty, natural disaster, conflict, and unstable governance threatens the continent’s enormous potential.
Alessandra Casazza, Manager at the UNDP Nairobi Resilience Hub, offered that building resilience in factors that are susceptible to crises in one preventive measure. She expressed that ‘risks can be managed if we can see them early enough, if we understand them and when crises do occur communities can recover and bounce forward better, if we are determined to invest in resilience’.
In complementarity, UNDP Africa leads on several projects tackling vulnerabilities in borderland regions as Ahunna Eziakonwa, UNDP Africa Assistant Secretary General and Regional Director, reiterated in her virtual address that ‘IGAD, with its regional, national, and local presence in the Horn is the ideal partner to empower borderland communities. Together, IGAD and UNDP, can maximize development impact for the borderland’s communities, by listening to them, learning from them, co-creating with them, and elevating their voices’.
Multilateralism in technical knowledge and shared resources is key to achieving Africa’s development renaissance in attaining the SGDs and the Agenda 2030. Recognizing that borderlands are complex regions requiring unique development strategies, it remains vital that the continent adopts strategies of seamless borders and border management through dialogue. UNDP remains committed to using its development integrator role across its 46 countries offices in Africa and be a valued development partner to regional and international organizations. This workshop is yet another example of that commitment for the peace, security, and prosperity of Africa.
It was agreed that an IGAD-UNDP technical working group be formed to further elaborate on areas of collaboration and to develop a Joint IGAD-UNDP Integrated Programme on Resilience and Borderlands Development, with a focus on, trade and livelihood, climate resilience, governance and peacebuilding, disaster risk reduction, and human mobility. The geographic focus will be on four IGAD clusters in the Horn, Cluster One: Karamoja (South Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda), Cluster Two: Burana (Kenya and Ethiopia), Cluster Three: Mandera (Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia) and Cluster Four: Dikhil - Ethiopia-Djibouti and Somalia.
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