Opening Remarks at 18 month UNDAF Review

04 Jul 2013


UNDAF Annual Review

 

Remarks

 

Eugene Owusu

Resident Coordinator, Humanitarian Coordinator&

UNDP Resident Representative                                                              

 

04 July 2013

Kereyu Hill Resort, Adama

Your Excellency, the State Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Ato Ahmed Shide;

Distinguished Participants from Government;

Colleagues from the UN;

Ladies and Gentlemen;

 

I am pleased to welcome you all to this joint Government and United Nations System in Ethiopia UNDAF Annual Review.

 

Over the last weeks, UN agencies have been working flat out with regional and federal counterparts across the country to assess frankly the UN’s contributions to Ethiopia’s development goals. There have been regional workshops; joint field monitoring visits to Oromiya, SNNPR, Addis Ababa, and MoFED; and discussions and analysis in Addis Ababa.

 

This strategic annual review today and tomorrow is the capstone of this comprehensive exercise.

 

I thank all those colleagues from various Government offices and from the UN, especially members of the inter-agency programme team, the M&E technical working group, the RC office, and the various pillar and sub-pillar working groups, for their extensive background preparation for this review.

 

Under the Government’s leadership, the UN adopted the Delivering as One model in Ethiopia to bring greater synergies in our programme interventions and to enhance our overall effectiveness. We have developed the UNDAF Action Plan, which encapsulates all our planned activities in the country.

 

Together with the Government, this review allows us to assess our joint performance towards achieving results in the UNDAF Action Plan; and to analyse our progress, challenges, and ways forward in support of the Growth and Transformation Plan.

 

This year’s UNDAF annual review is different from past reviews in two aspects. First, it is based on the Programme Monitoring Framework, the consolidation of annual work plans of all UN agencies. This means we can review UN-supported programmes in a more comprehensive way than when there was no such document covering all UN agencies’ annual activities. Second, we are attempting to apply a results-based management approach much more rigorously than before. During the preparatory process, it was emphasized that we would be focusing on results – outcomes and outputs – rather than activities. We need to continue this high-level focus. It is not good enough to discuss only what we did. We need to look into what transformational changes we are making.

 

Based on the outcomes from this workshop, we will endorse the UN’s strategic direction and identify lessons to inform any adjustments to the UNDAF Action Plan and revisions to the annual work plan for the next fiscal year.

 

As we take stock of the UN’s work in Ethiopia, we must consider the context in which we are working. 

 

First let me stress that this is a context in which tremendous development gains have been made.

 

Over the past decade, Ethiopia has recorded economic growth averaging around 11 percent per year. Last year, Ethiopia was the 12th fastest growing economy in the world.

 

Of course, economic growth is not an end in itself. That growth should promote human development.  Here too Ethiopia has made progress, and is one of the 14 countries which recorded the biggest gains in UNDP’s Human Development Index since 2000.

 

During that time, Ethiopia has translated its commitment to the MDGs into results which matter for millions of people.  Poverty rates have fallen consistently; child mortality rates have dropped significantly; and a greater proportion of all boys and girls go to school and stay the course. Ethiopia is now on track to meet most of the MDGs by 2015.

 

Yet, as the Prime Minister himself has repeated, there is still work to do. This brings me to some of the challenges Ethiopia faces, most of which point towards work required to overcome inequities and to promote further inclusive economic growth. Let me mention four challenges, all tackled by our UNDAF Action Plan.  

 

First, it is important to continue to sustain high rates of economic growth, and to ensure that growth is green and continues to translate into improved lives and livelihoods.

 

We know in Ethiopia that investing in the productivity of agriculture is a particularly important way to generate economic growth; reduce poverty and food insecurity; and improve the well-being of poor farmers and their families.

 

Connected to this is the importance of protecting our natural heritage, and building resilience to and managing risks from climate change and other natural disasters.  

 

Underlying building resilience is good governance and making sure people have the tools and capacities to cope when the going gets tough, a focus captured in our flagship joint programme in the Developing Regional States.  Ethiopia has made notable advances in recent years in shoring up resilience to shocks like droughts, and providing social protection measures for those who need them.

 

We also need to continue to strengthen the collaboration between humanitarian and development activities, so that emergency relief assistance helps to save lives and livelihoods in disaster-affected communities and also creates a bridge to recovery and sustained development.

 

Second, to advance on the MDGs before 2015, we need to increase even further our work to provide more people with access to basic services: clean water and sanitation; quality education; well-run health services; and HIV prevention and treatment.  It is also necessary to build on and enhance the results we have seen from innovative social welfare systems.

 

Let me emphasize the need to improve maternal health, the MDG furthest off track in Ethiopia.  One of the UNCT’s flagship joint programmes focuses on maternal and newborn health, an area warranting especially close attention from all of us.

 

Third is the importance of deepening democracy through good governance at all levels, from federal to kebele, and ensuring that Government is accountable, transparent, and responsive to its citizens’ needs.

 

This is in line with the Government’s long-term vision of becoming a middle-income country where democracy and good governance are maintained. The Growth and Transformation Plan identifies good governance, human rights, and capacity building as one of its strategic pillars, and our support through the UNDAF reflects those objectives.

 

I am pleased that two weeks ago parliament adopted the National Human Rights Action Plan. We stand ready to support its implementation.

 

A fourth challenge relates to promoting gender equality.  Enhancing equity calls for a special focus on Ethiopia’s girls and women, reducing gaps in educational attainment, and in the social and economic spheres. One of the UNCT’s flagship joint programmes promotes gender equality, reflecting the priority emphasis we are placing on this issue.

 

These challenges are well captured in the four pillars of the UNDAF Action Plan, and reflect much of our work around the country to transform the lives and livelihoods of men, women, and children.

 

This leads me to my last point, the opportunities Ethiopia faces to extend and sustain the gains it has made.

 

There are many such opportunities. The recent history of robust economic growth, supported by an expansion in the agriculture and service sectors, provides a good platform for future advances.

 

Big investments in education, healthcare, social protection, Government capacity, and essential infrastructure, along with investment inflows, can continue to pay dividends.  

 

Ethiopia has a clear, articulated vision of the direction in which it wants to head; and is working closely with various development partners to ensure it is met.

 

I wish to emphasize two other opportunities. One relates to youth. With an estimated 50 per cent of the population below the age of twenty, Ethiopia faces high youth unemployment and under-employment both in rural and urban areas. Ethiopia will need to create millions of meaningful jobs and ensure young people are able to participate in, and benefit from, the development process. So yes, this is clearly a challenge, one we capture in pillar 4 of the UNDAF.

 

Yet, with the right policies and strategies, young people can be vital sources of innovation, creativity, and growth, and enable Ethiopia to enjoy a major demographic dividend. The UN stands ready to work with the Government in putting in place measures and programmes to make sure that the fast-growing population of young people can stimulate even further development gains.

 

The second big opportunity relates to building a more vibrant private sector, one which can attract more foreign direct investment; boost industry, services, and exports; generate tax revenue for development; and create millions of jobs. Tapping into the local entrepreneurial spirit and history, phasing in a bigger private sector can support Ethiopia in meeting its goal to become middle income.

 

The UN country team is committed to step up its activities with all partners to address the challenges Ethiopia faces; to build on the opportunities emerging; and to help achieve the MDGs and the objectives of the Growth and Transformation Plan.

 

I believe the UN system is making an enormous contribution to Ethiopia’s development, and am proud of our joint efforts to channel the resources we have to where they matter most.

 

Still, there may well be room for improvement as we seek to be even more effective, efficient, and flexible in helping Ethiopia safeguard and extend its hard-won development gains. We will reflect on the lessons emerging from this annual review, and seek to adjust our interventions as needed. 

 

Over the next two days, I encourage you to be frank in your deliberations; innovative in identifying challenges and opportunities; and to follow up on the outcomes of this meeting with seriousness.

 

I hope that by the Friday afternoon we will be able to chart a clear way forward for reinvigorating even further our strong collaboration.

 

Thank you once again for your support and commitment to Delivering as One for Ethiopia.