The UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Regional Bureau for Africa (RBA), Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa, today launched the 2021-2025 UNDP Country Programme (CP) to the Kingdom of Eswatini, with the Minister for Economic Planning and Development, Hon. Tambo Gina. The launch comes at the end of an official virtual mission by Ms. Eziakonwa to Eswatini, which started on 22 March.
“UNDP is a long-term partner of the Kingdom of Eswatini. What I have seen this week is a country rich in innovative solutions; a country on a remarkable path towards climate action and equitable growth,” emphasized Ms. Eziakonwa. “Our new five-year development programme will build on these efforts with a focus on productivity, inclusion and resilience – deepening our collaboration with the government, key institutions and the private sector towards a green, better and more prosperous future for all.”
The purpose of the mission was to discuss UNDP’s development offer to the Kingdom of Eswatini and identify further opportunities and partnerships that the Government could benefit from.
Equitable growth remains a key priority for Eswatini and for UNDP. Ms. Eziakonwa and the UNDP country team looked at practical ways to stem the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and its socio-economic fallout across the country to ensure that no one is left behind in Eswatini. She noted the progress the country has made on its development agenda over the past four decades and was particularly impressed with Eswatini’s achievement of the 95-95-95 target on HIV&AIDS ten years earlier than planned.
The five-year development plan presented today marks the renewed commitment of the United Nations Development Programme to accompany the Kingdom of Eswatini in recovering from the shocks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change and to support the course towards a better and more sustainable future, while ensuring that no one is left behind, reducing youth unemployment, which currently stands at 47%, improving the quality and access to education, decreasing high poverty rates which have peaked since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ravages of Tropical Cyclone Eloise, are amongst the challenges the country is currently facing.
The new plan comes at a time when the Kingdom of Eswatini and its partners have the opportunity to build back better, through a swift and inclusive economic recovery programme that will be crucial for all emaSwati.
The launch event, which was held online due to COVID-19, was attended by Government Officials, Development Partners, UN agencies, the business community and civil society organisations.
In response, as Minister responsible for development assistance in the country, Hon. Gina acknowledged the strong partnership that exists between the Ministry and the UNDP country Office, which has played a catalytic role in the implementation of prioritised sustainable development actions as articulated in our national frameworks.
“I particularly wish to acknowledge the UNDP for supporting us spearhead the agenda for reducing poverty and promoting inclusive growth in the country,” said Hon.
Gina. “As we are gathered here today, I am proud to report that poverty levels in the country have reduced from 63% in 2010 to 58.9 % in 2017.”
He also expressed his appreciation for the Ministry to be the interlocutor of UNDP Eswatini, particularly to be the “parenting ministry” for the implementation of its Inclusive Growth portfolio.
“This new Country Programme presents us with the opportunity to achieve the country’s development priorities including the Sustainable Development Goals, and to build on lessons learnt over the past years, notably from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Hon. Gina.