(Statement delivered by Taye Amssalu, on behalf of UNDP Resident Representative in Kenya, Walid Badawi)
I am honored to have this opportunity to meet with you all and witness the ever-growing partnership between UNDP and the people of Kenya. Working alongside other UN agencies, UNDP is taking the lead in ensuring that national and county governments are supported, especially during this period as we face up to the challenge of COVID-19.
Since the onset of the national devolution agenda, UNDP has worked with and supported the Council of Governors (CoG) – from the early days of the first secretariat, UNDP has prioritized investing in and supporting CoG as it delivers services to the people and ensure that development interventions prioritize the most vulnerable and poor.
Ladies and Gentlemen, UNDP is the lead agency in implementing the UN Joint Devolution Programme which is aimed at consolidating development gains and deepening devolution in Kenya. Through this intervention, investments worth millions of dollars have been made at sub-national level – all thanks to our funding partners, Sweden, Finland and Italy.
Your Excellency, despite the immense investment, partnerships and support from a wide range of sources including the government and development partners towards national COVID-19 efforts, gaps still exist in ensuring effective response both at national and county levels. It is for this reason that UNDP continues to explore additional means for supporting these efforts so that development gains are secured, and people’s livelihoods are protected.
Our offer is now focusing on helping decision-makers look beyond recovery, towards 2030, so that they can make choices and manage complexity and uncertainty in four main areas: governance and agency, social protection, green economy, and digital disruption. This is our commitment to the government and people of Kenya; we will stand by you during this crisis and during the recovery from it.
In responding to the gaps already existing in response efforts, UNDP has already deployed 50 United Nations Volunteer health for a period of six months, to the most vulnerable counties (Kakamega, Busia, Garissa, Kajiado, Kiambu, Kilifi, Kisumu, Machakos, Mandera, Migori, Nairobi, Taita Taveta, Uasin Gishu and Wajir). These young men and women are now on the ground helping community health response to the pandemic – please visit our website and read their stories.
Your Excellency, over and above the shortage of health workforce, COVID-19 has brought to the surface the acute and always chronic shortage of medicines and essential supplies including protective gear, especially in highly contagious environments. This is a daily battle for many health workers who have to face the enemy unarmed – they continue to put their lives on the line as they save others.
While we honour the vital role that frontline health workers play in saving lives, we must do our part in ensuring that they do so while well equipped – just we do when we send soldiers out to war.
It is for this reason that we are here today to respond to this call – the call to arm the frontline workers in COVIS-19 response. UNDP through our partners has procured personal protective equipment (PPEs) which today will be handed over to the CoG for distribution and use by frontline workers in the most vulnerable counties. This gesture is intended to help mitigate the health risks our health workers face on a daily basis in the course of their work. Through COG, we hope this equipment will be put to use immediately so that no lives are put at risk as a result of exposure to sources of contamination.
As His Excellency, the President said “we are at war with the virus” – we have to respond with a mindset of a community at war.
As I conclude, allow me to congratulate Ms Mogeni and her team on the journey of success they have walked, that has enabled the Council of Governors to reap the benefits of devolution in less than 10 years. We applaud you and wish you well.
Allow me also to reaffirm UNDP’s commitment to supporting the Government and people of Kenya in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and in achieving the Vision 2030 and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).