Government and UN strengthen coordination to finance development during lean times

Members of the United Nations Country Team during a "visioning" session of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) Prioritization Workshop at Sawela Lodge in Naivasha.

Innovative resource mobilization and increased coordination are expected to drive future partnerships between the Government of Kenya and the United Nations Country Team in the face of reduced development financing.

The partnership, developed under the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) is bracing for considerable financial slump following President Trump’s assumption of office in 2016 and his intentions of slashing funding to the UN.

 

UNDAF Prioritization WorkshopMembers of the UNCT undertake team building and UNDAF visioning exercises during the UNDAF Prioritization Workshop

UNDAF is the vehicle by which the UN partners with the Kenyan people in their self-articulated development aspirations. It was developed according to the principles of UN Delivering as One (DaO), which aim at ensuring Government ownership and is aligned to Government priorities and planning cycles.

In April this year, the US withdrew $32.5m worth of funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), affecting family planning programs in more than 150 countries, Kenya included.

Kenya’s ascension from low income country (LIC) to lower middle income country (LMIC) status in 2015 has also meant that the country does not qualify for cheap loans and getting grants is more difficult, thus presenting an even more formidable challenge in resource mobilization.

According to the UNDAF Annual Report 2016-2017, the partnership has spent some Ksh 57 Billion in financing development in the country in the last three years. This is out of the Ksh 128 Billion needed to fully and successfully implement the programs envisioned in the current partnership framework.

In view of the above, the Government and the UN are forging better coordination mechanism, more innovative resource mobilization, new strategic partnerships and more rational investments as the two partners head toward the next phase of UNDAF (2018-2022).

The upcoming UNDAF is expected to be a significant improvement on the current phase (2014-1018) as it will emphasize the coherence in the implementation of development programs and activities as a way of creating efficiency, promoting optimum use of resources and creating donor interest.

The development of UNDAF 2018-2022 coincides with the transition from the Medium-Term Plan Two (MTP2) to the Medium-Term Plan Three (MTP 3) of Kenya’s Vision 2030 and the SDGs.

 

UNDAF Prioritization WorkshopTREASURY DEP[UTY CHIEF ECONOMIST, MS MONICA ASUNA: ‘‘If we agree within the key result areas to jointly mobilize resources and have one main UN agency manage the resources for the various activities under that result area then we could reduce the time that could be spent by each agency on such areas as procurement, human resource and each agency trying to implement programs on their own.”

At a workshop where senior Government and UN staff held consultations on the new framework, the UN Resident Coordinator for Kenya, Siddharth Chatterjee advocated for convergence to promote efficiency and to attract financial partners.

“The Government and the UN Country Team already have converged around national priorities. Now we need harmonised resource mobilisation and to bring in our respective strengths and comparative advantages,” said Mr. Chatterjee.  “Some of our programmes in support of the Government to Deliver As One United Nations family is already generating donor interest. These are the SDG platform to leapfrog universal health care, the cross border programme with Ethiopia to advance peace, development and security in some of Kenya’s remote border areas and the push for area based programmes like Turkana county.”

Treasury Deputy Chief Economist, Monica Asuna called for reduction of transaction costs and collective reporting and accountability in implementation of programs.

‘‘If we agree within the key result areas to jointly mobilize resources and have one main UN agency manage the resources for the various activities under that result area then we could reduce the time that could be spent by each agency on such areas as procurement, human resource and each agency trying to implement programs on their own,” she said.

Robust relations between the Government and the United Nations System and the counties are expected to facilitate the success of the upcoming development framework.

This teamwork was evident at the recent United Nations General Assembly where Kenya, through Foreign Affairs CS, Ambassador Amina Mohamed representing President Uhuru Kenyatta, acknowledged the partnership (CS Speech at the UNGA) of the United Nations Country Team in Kenya.

The CS gave the example of milestones achieved in delivery of health as a pointer to successful teamwork.

“Under the commendable coordination of the Government of Kenya and the United Nations System in Kenya, the SDG Partnership Platform brings together leaders from government, civil society, academia and private sector and it is already posting promising health benefits for the disadvantaged,” she wrote in an opinion article in the Huffington Post published as the Assembly progressed.

As we see UN reforms happening under the stewardship of the UN Secretary General, Mr Antonio Guterres, the UN in Kenya is getting “fit for purpose”.