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UN week highlights activities of the global body

THE UN Resident Coordinator, Alberic Kacou (left) speaks to reporters in Dar es Salaam last week. Right is the Permanent Secretary in the Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ministry, Mr John Haule. (Photo by Mohamed Mambo)THE United Nation has been marking UN week which climaxes on Wednesday. Staff Writer ROSE ATHUMANI held an interview with Mr Alberic Kacou, UN Resident Coordinator in the country on the significance of the week to the Tanzanians and the world as whole. The excerpt…

• What significance does the UN week hold for the UN and Tanzania?

The UN week is one week that we have in a year when we like to programme series of events and activities, usually advocacy, leading to the climax of the UN day, which is the 24thof October every year. This is something that we celebrate worldwide and for the UN, it is a way to acknowledge the partnership with the host country. It is also a time to share some successes and challenges of our programmes- with our partners and beneficiaries.

• Why is UN celebrating the UN week on the theme of environment? The theme this year being ‘Changing Peoples’ Lives, Greening the Environment for Sustainable Livelihoods?’

Usually to facilitate the UN Day, there is a global theme and the theme helps us to focus on some of the ongoing activities and challenges-a time when we have a collective reflection. The corporate theme this year is Greening the Blue. The theme enables us to raise awareness on –environment and sustainable development, and the blue - represents the UN.

In Tanzania we have tried to domesticate the theme to make it more homely and we have linked the theme of environment with the livelihoods of the people of Tanzania—hence the theme is ‘Changing Peoples’ Lives: Greening the Environment for Sustainable Livelihoods’.

• How is UN assisting the government of Tanzania in protecting the environment and ensuring sustainable management of land, forest and marine?

Our activities have a lot to do with capacity building and transformation of institutions, structured to improve coordination. We have several initiatives being implemented including conservation of agriculture, rain water harvesting, sustainable land - and forests management and sustainable use of natural resources. The idea is to ensure effective management of ecosystem and natural resources management which is actually the key to sustainable development.

For instance, actions like villagers cutting down trees for firewood, the aim of our programmes is to make people understand the gravity of their actions and its impact on environment. At the same time, we try to come up with alternative sources of energy that would be renewable and would be able to replace the cutting of trees for firewood. We are doing this at different levels, the central, regional and community levels.

Through our activities and programmes, we ensure that the communities better understand about preservation of environment for us and the future generation. The UN is also facilitating the development of by-laws and other practical tools for sustainable management of natural resources. The UN recognizes the role of protected areas in biodiversity conservation by supporting their development and effective management with focus on coastal, forests and wildlife corridors.

Some of the challenges we are facing include ensuring the messages that we are carrying across are really making an impact. Deforestation is really rapid, and we need to be able to put actions that can counter this with afforestation. We know that cutting trees is easy and can be done in minutes but it takes several years for one tree to grow.

• What prompted the UN reform to delivering as one? It goes back to the year 2005, when the High Level Panel on System-wide Coherence was put in place by the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, prior to the world financial crisis.

Among others, the panel’s task was to answer a simple question, how the UN could be more efficient and work more effectively as resources allocated to development agencies were diminishing. The System Wise Coherence reforms were linked with the UN being more efficient and effective as one entity on the ground and are known as the UN ‘Delivering as one’.

In 2005, the General Assembly asked countries to volunteer for piloting the UN to deliver as one. Tanzania was one of the eight countries that volunteered; the other countries are Rwanda, Mozambique, Cape Verde, Uruguay, Albania, Vietnam and Pakistan.

However, we have one principle that not one size fits all, which means each country follows its individual development path based on its own challenges. The UN Delivering as One then came up with five pillars such as; ‘One Leader, One Programme, One Budget, One Office and One Voice’.

The United Nations Development Assistance Plan (UNDAP-2011- 2015) is One Programme and all the UN agencies have to follow the One Four-Year Plan through the 10 Programme Working Groups along with Gender and Human Rights as cross cutting sectors.

Tanzania was the first pilot country to come up with UNDAP and now we are in our second year. We have adopted the national fiscal year of the country which runs from July to June in the following year. We use Government Medium Term Expenditure Framework. A Joint Steering Committee between the Government, the UN and development partners review progress of work and approve allocation of fund.

This has brought about greater transparency and accountability in funds spent by the UN. We started with 8 piloting countries and now 32 countries called ‘self-starters’ are following the One UN model. The idea of UN delivering as one is to have UN system work more coherently with the host Governments to enhance presence on the ground, create efficient, sustained results and lower the transaction costs.

• What is the role of the government of Tanzania in the reforms? First of all, the role of the Government has been the key— the reform carries a feature, a combination of political and technical aspects.

The Government’s role is to provide the political will and drive, while the UN is tasked with providing the technical know-how. It has been evident on the part of the Government of Tanzania from the beginning when the country volunteered to be among the 8 pilot programmes. I think that this leadership role and national ownership was well recognized.

The oversight is provided by the Joint Government and UN Steering Committee, co-chaired by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance and the UN Resident Coordinator with representation by central and line ministries, UN agencies and the Chair of the UN Development Partner Group— the ‘Friends of the UN’.

• How do you see the implementation of the United Nations Development Assistance Plan (UNDAP 2011-2015) for Tanzania? What challenges do you see in terms of implementation?

Regarding the implementation of the UNDAP; the first year was a good year of trial. We have made good examples of success with a few challenges.To name a few successes; the first draft national Climate Change strategy was developed and climate-development linkages were mapped; a number of Ministries completed self assessment to analyze employment creation potential in their policies/ programmes; above 1100 schools (650,000 students) received food assistance under the school feeding programme; the national and sub-national immunization campaigns have been conducted with coverage averaging above 90% of the estimated population; model child protection systems have been established in districts; UN has supported in the drafting and revision of the National Operation Guidelines for disaster management and the disaster management teams have been activated; durable solutions for camp-based refugees have been secured – for example, 549 refugees resettled in third countries (US, Canada, Australia, Norway, Netherlands, UK and Finland).

In terms of challenges, availability of sufficient funds at this time of global economic crisis and timely disbursement of financial assistance to relevant partners remain as bottlenecks. The UN is working with the Ministry of External Finance to secure remedial action. The other challenge is the capacity of national partners for timely implementation and reporting – and 95 per cent of the UNDAP is designed to build capacity of national systems and structures.

• Can you highlight some important partnerships and their roles in the implementation of UNDAP? The UNDAP is a Programme of Cooperation. The UNDAP is guided by the principles of effective development cooperation laid down in the Joint Assistance Strategy for Tanzania (JAST). Partnership is therefore central to its design. Almost all activities are implemented in partnership with national stakeholders, both state and non-state actors, with shared responsibility for delivery of results.

The UN welcomes the support of other Development Partners in Tanzania. The Resident Coordinator is the permanent co-chair of the Development Partner Group, a regular meeting is held to discuss common concerns.

• On issues of good governance and human rights-What effort has the UN exerted to help the government improve its reputation and records?

The UNDAP has a rights based approach. The purpose of UN partnership with government is to support the government’s strategies, plans and activities to benefit the people of Tanzania, where that support is requested and appropriate for the UN.

The government alone is responsible for its reputation and its record with citizens. With that in mind, we are very pleased to be able to support good governance and human rights in Tanzania in a variety of ways. The UNDAP governance programme has more than 100 activities with more than 40 Tanzanian partners, most of them Union and Zanzibar government agencies.

For example: we are supporting the development of stronger parliaments in both Dodoma and Zanzibar. The UN supported the National Election Commission and Zanzibar Election Commission, and others, in the 2005 and 2010 general elections, and we will do so again to help prepare for 2015. We are supporting the advancement of women in public office, the protection of children in the justice system, and the application of labour rights and creation of decent work – especially for youths.

The UN is a key supporter in the fight against corruption, in the past year or so we have expanded that support to Zanzibar to help the government there draft policy and new anticorruption law. Every UN agency works with government and others every day to advance human rights for all – including civil and political rights, economic and social rights, and cultural rights.

This includes the right to political participation, the right to education, health and food, and the right to work and to overall human dignity. In addition, we assist the government to engage in international human rights mechanisms, such as the Universal Periodic Review and put in place robust national follow-up systems, such as the emerging National Human Rights Action Plan.

. What challenges do you see in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and what is UN doing to support Tanzania in the realization of the goals?

Tanzania is likely to achieve the MDGs on education (MDG 2-achieving universal primary education), gender equality (MDG 3), reducing child mortality (MDG 4) and Combating HIV/AIDs (MDG 6). It is also likely to achieve some MDG targets such as improved access to improved drinking water in urban areas (MDG 7). We have a lot of challenges ahead, for instance in education, the focus is more on the rate of enrolment but basically the focus has to be on the quality of education.

The teachers need to be trained better, provided with tools for teaching, the curriculum from the national level all the way to the village level needs to be monitored and improved. Retaining the children in schools is very important and that is why we need to have a combination of strategies such as the school feeding programme in order to increase the retention rate of children in schools.

Most challenging would be achieving MDGs 1- reducing poverty and hunger by half, improving maternal mortality (MDG 5-reducing maternal mortality by three fourth), access to improved drinking water in rural areas (MDG 7) and access to improved sanitation in both urban and rural areas. The challenge in maternal mortality is high due to lack of access to health facilities, tendency to give child birth at home not attended by trained health personnel. Distance to clinics as well as lack of trained health personnel also make matter worse.

To talk about our support, for instance, UN had a pilot programme in Dodoma geared at reducing maternal mortality. We worked with the regional hospitals; we built few health facilities, worked in districts in training the matrons and availing them with simple kits that would assist in child delivery in rural areas. We introduced mobile ambulances and motorcycles which could carry pregnant women to hospitals. The programme worked well and the government is supposed to replicate the model in other regions.

• What is the response to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) at the school levels, what are the challenges the programme is facing and is UN addressing them?

It is said that information is power and this is one thing that we need to be able to communicate and advocate for. It is important that WASH is brought into the curriculum in schools, so we can understand that our health depends on sanitation and hygiene.

UN is supporting the government (Ministries, Departments and Agencies- MDAs) to sustain effective school WASH, develop the school WASH national programme, and build the capacity of MDAs to introduce coordinated sanitation, hygiene and household water treatment improvement. The UN is supporting the government in fulfilling its global commitments on sanitation.

This includes supporting the development of the National Sanitation and Hygiene Programme. The UN is, furthermore, providing assistance and financial aid for scaling up sanitation at community level. In Zanzibar the UN has gone further, for example in Pemba, we have put together water supply programme, putting up water tanks that provide households with clean drinking water.

The UN has been ensuring that the issues of water supply regarding sustainability, pollution and the effects of climate change are addressed through technical assistance to ministries and government agencies. Officials are encouraged to incorporate water resource management into sector plans, environmental health strategies and environmental impact assessments.

over 7 years ago