The first UNDP Horn of Africa Resident Representatives forum closed today with commitments on strengthening development ties across borders through support for joint analysis, planning and action.
The forum concluded that the future of the Horn depends, in good measure, on taking steps to help transform development conditions on the ground, whether to combat poverty, address the connected challenges of rapid population growth, climate change and sustainability, or promote peaceful and inclusive societies. UNDP leadership in the sub-region expressed their commitment in supporting a development paradigm shift from vulnerability and crisis to sustainable development and economic prosperity’.
UNDP’s Horn of Africa Forum is an annual platform that brings together UNDP Resident Representatives from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, and Sudan to discuss cross-border development planning and cooperation in the region.
The Regional Director of the UNDP Bureau for Africa, Ms Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onochie noted, “The Horn of Africa (UNDP) Forum is an idea whose time has come. The subregion, straddling Africa and the Middle East, is one of the world's poorest and most stressed regions ; Our job as UNDP, and development practitioners, is not only to understand the challenges but also to grasp the opportunities for building stability and resilience, sustaining peace and ensuring shared prosperity.”
The Horn of Africa (HoA) is a young region, home to over 270 million people, 70% of whom are under the age of 30. The region is not only among the youngest but also the most diverse on the African continent.
The Regional Director of the UNDP Bureau for Arab States, Ms Khalida Bouzar, stressed that, “It is important for countries in the region to learn from each other, including through South-South Cooperation. UNDP’s added value is that of working across the humanitarian, development, and peace eco-systems. And, in that context we are committed to unleash the full spectrum of support from governance, poverty reduction to helping build resilience, promote climate action, and strengthen gender equality which will be critical to help address the underlying causes of fragility in line with UNDP’s new Strategic Plan (2022-2025).”
The establishment of the UNDP Horn of Africa Resident Representatives Forum is expected to help UNDP country offices to share analysis and exchange information on regional dynamics in the Horn and create momentum around actions that can achieve major impact in strategic areas.
Hosting the launch meeting of the Forum, UNDP's Resident Representative for Ethiopia, Mr Turhan Saleh noted, “This is a critical juncture for the Horn of Africa. The sub-region has become a centre of global attention, not least because of its location astride a major trade route but also due to its historical role as a ‘bridge’ between Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The Horn is also facing major development challenges that are often structural in nature, demanding urgent action at-scale across multiple issues and across borders to innovate and deliver durable solutions for the people of the sub-region.”
Over the years, UNDP has complemented the work of regional bodies, such as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the African Union and the League of Arab States (LAS), most recently through leading on the development of a joint UN strategy for the Horn of Africa that promotes a new way of working (NWOW). The NWOW poses a strong argument for closer collaboration across the humanitarian-development-peace-security nexus to address complex development challenges.