*By Sirak Gebrehiwot
This week the Government and UN Development System in Zimbabwe together with development partners, civil society organizations validated development results supported by the 2016-2020 Zimbabwe United Nations Development Assistance Framework (ZUNDAF) in 2016.
The year 2016 marked the first year implementation of the 2016 – 2020 ZUNDAF and the rollout of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals to transform the world, to achieve prosperity for all and protect the planet.
The year also witnessed a number of challenges, which had an impact on our joint work. The effects of the El Nino resulted in a worst drought in 35 years that affected over 40% of the total population. Those most affected by the drought were also the vulnerable groups targeted for development assistance, threatening the development gains made over the years.
Despite these challenges, the United Nations with the generous support from the development partners delivered over USD 403 million towards achieving the ZUNDAF results in 2016.
The 2016-2020 ZUNDAF contributes to six national development result areas: Food and Nutrition; Gender Equality; HIV and AIDS; Social Services and Protection; Poverty Reduction and Value Addition; and Public Administration and Governance.
In this regard, key development results that were supported in the first year implementation of the 2016-2020 ZUNDAF include:
First, in the social services and protection result area a multi-million-dollar health development fund commenced implementation to strengthen health systems, address child and maternal health. ZUNDAF support in education has resulted in increased enrolment of children with disabilities in primary and secondary education by 24% (from 40,226 to 49,692). National Social Security Strategy was launched and cash transfer to over 55,000 vulnerable households was maintained. In an effort to enhance hygiene and sanitation over 58,000 household latrines have been constructed and fully operationalised.
Second, in response to the severe drought that hit the country in 2016, the focus of food and nutrition security result area was redirected to life-saving assistance which supported two million people with food assistance; close to 140,000 vulnerable people were also supported with community asset building programmes.
Third, on HIV and AIDS, under the joint ZUNDAF programme sustained anti-retroviral therapy has been provided to nearly one million people living with the virus enabling them to lead healthy and productive lives. Our prevention efforts through male circumcision; awareness raising; and voluntary counselling and testing has stopped the epidemic on its tracks and reversing the trend downwards. Now efforts must be geared towards closing the leaking tap on young and adolescent new infection and eliminate 100% the transmission of the virus from mother-to-child.
Fourth, on gender equality, extensive support to national advocacy has resulted in outlawing child marriages and the development of the National Action Plan on Ending Child marriages to ensure girls stay in school and take charge of their own economic empowerment. Support has also been provided in strengthening of the capacity of women parliamentarians and women representation in parliament and other governance structures. On mainstreaming gender equality into the national financial inclusion strategy, ZUNDAF programme support has facilitated the establishment of eight women banks.
Fifth, in the areas of public administration and good governance, the United Nations facilitated an extensive multi-stakeholder’s consultation engagement during the second Universal Periodic Review process in which Zimbabwe has accepted 142 recommendations for implementation. The United Nations continued its support to alignment of laws to the constitution, capacity building on treaty bodies and to independent commissions such as human rights, gender, election, peace and reconciliation, and media.
Sixth, on poverty reduction and value addition, the UN provided technical support in the formulation of the Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy for 2016-2018, the review of the National Labour Migration Policy and the launch of the diaspora policy to engage Zimbabweans who live abroad in their national development. In an effort to reduce vulnerability and reduce poverty a multi-year and multi-donor resilience fund was launched in 2016, so far reaching over 86,000 households in the country with income generating opportunities (both on and off farm), markets and value chains, services delivery and community-based natural resources management.
In addition to implementing development programmes, the United Nations was at the forefront of responding to the drought through Humanitarian Response Plan, covering April 2016-March2017, reached nearly two million vulnerable people (65% of the overall target) with USD 215 million.
In 2017, general focus has been recalibrated on resilience-building, and on medium-longer-term development efforts to address high levels of poverty through two pronged approach of social service delivery and economic growth by facilitating investment framework and expediting ongoing economic reforms.
To cushion against external shocks which seem to be the new-normal due to climate change, the UN will support national capacity for early warning and other disaster risk management indicators to regularly monitoring them to inform early action.
Under the overarching principle of the Sustainable Development Goals of leaving no one behind, in the end, all of our efforts should keep the commitment to realise the aspirations of those who are left the furthest behind.
If the partnership that was demonstrated at the high level annual review of the 2016-2020 ZUNDAF is to go by, the journey to 2030 for a shared prosperity and to ending poverty, hunger, inequality and ensuring access to justice for all and building accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels is on the right track.
Sirak Gebrehiwot is the United Nations Communications Specialist in Zimbabwe
NB: this piece was first published in The Herald Zimbabwe