The UN development system is enhancing its cooperation with humanitarian assistance and peacebuilding efforts in crisis and post-crisis situations. As part of the “Commitment to Action” from the World Humanitarian Summit, agencies, funds and programmes are committed to implementing a new way of working that meets people’s immediate humanitarian needs while at the same time reducing risk and vulnerability. As part of this effort, there is a commitment to work towards collective outcomes based on joint analysis, including risk and conflict analysis, and multi-year planning, depending on the context.  This approach will achieve a more coherent response across the development, humanitarian and peacebuilding efforts in crisis and post-crisis settings, and contribute to reducing needs, vulnerability and risk. This will contribute to achieving sustainable development, including sustainable peace.

 

 

Silo Fighters Blog

Revisioning Somalia: An appeal for ‘this way of working’

BY Kanni Wignaraja | June 6, 2018

My recent visit to Somalia was a mere 48 hours, to take in a decades long story of conflict and climate-driven destruction of Mogadishu. Of Somalia. They say what you hear and see in those initial moments, in the blink of an eye, is what stays with you and gets deeply etched in memory, despair and in hope. So here goes. Green saplings rising The sharp banking of the plane I was coming in on, and a runway that went toe-to-toe with the Indian Ocean waves, should have been a give-away. The heavily fortified ‘green zone’ where the diplomatic missions, UN and some government and NGOs reside, made the working reality stark to me. The challenges faced cried out for all working in Somalia to do the impossible. To re-vision a country, together with many of its young people, growing back from the ashes as a green sapling tries to do. The question is if the UN can accompany a very young country on this journey, and guide and nurture this next generation, however fragile the openings may be, as they inspire us with their dreams and plans for a new, phoenix-like Somalia. For the few young people I spoke to, the idea of their country is one filled with a youthful exuberance and energy that makes one want to leap out of one’s container (where most staff still sleep at night) and get out there to help. This is the story of the UN in Somalia. So can we move from the forever-an-emergency modus operandi, to take a moment to carve out and protect some spaces, in our plans and with our funding, to be there also for the re-visioned Somalia? Amidst all that challenges a faster national level rebuild, two factors, in particular, seem to slow down the shift in gear that the UN in Somalia wishes to make. The UN team is trying to support a disproportionately large displaced population – well over 6 million - that live in highly vulnerable situations, confronted daily by the fragility of climate change, injustice and clashing clan identity, with little protection, and hence a very real need to be there for them every day. There are also the factors within the UN, where we are divided by the way we are governed and funded, with the large proportion of funds received targeted for shorter term needs, and not enough for helping to rebuild institutions that will govern judiciously, provide essential local services, invest in sustainable agriculture and ensure greater access and quality of education, health and dignity for all Somalis. Camel yoghurt to coding: Showing (or paving) the way for longer-lasting transformations There are pilot efforts supported by several UN entities, to innovate and to test out new ventures. And this provides the evidence that says this different path is also present, albeit a slim and less trodden one: to accompany the ingenuity and smarts of young people, who see a different future for themselves. During my short stay, I talked to young entrepreneurs who see bottled spicy ketchup and not the wasteful dumping of an abundance of tomatoes at days end; and another animated group who wish to produce and export camel’s milk yoghurt to a Somali diaspora; also feisty leaders calling for women’s rights, and most amazingly Bilan Codes – yes, ‘women can code’ - a local group run by Zahra, who the men in the room said they also learnt their computer skills from, and here she was teaching the next generation of Somali women to code! These can be more than small pilot projects, to light the way for longer-lasting transformations. The UN leadership and Country Team in Somalia see the disconnect between this re-vision, and over a dozen years of our presence doing the same-same. They live and work through the presence of violence, and having lost colleagues to mortars and truck bombs, are rightly contained in their response. The UN team cannot and must not forego its humanitarian role and support, as many lives depend on it. However, the UN team is also trying to get behind a young Somalia willing to leap-frog the usual, by using IT and mobile apps, and moving, however tentatively, behind a new Constitution and a first-time one person-one vote election in 2021. Rewarding positive disruption To stay relevant to this story, we must bring what we know and what we do much more together in Somalia, and in so many more places, to disrupt the negative trends and to support positive change for: a safer urban growth, with more clean green energy, to invest in values-based governance and the protection of the rights and dignities of all people, to address positive technology solutions and cyber security, to mitigate climate shocks and adaption of consumption and production patterns, and to ensure meaningful education and jobs for young people. And more. To support countries such as Somalia progress on sustainable development, the UN will have to share capacities and resources, within and with others. And colleagues must be rewarded for innovating, being forward-leaning and taking on this way of working. I will not pretend to understand all the complexity, but before I blink, I do know this - our tired rules that keep us silo’d, aversion to risk given programmes under daily stress from security concerns, and agency-first mentalities that limit what we can do together, do not belong here. We have a team on the ground, more-or-less ready to brave the new path. The current UN reforms that are underpinned by a call to invest in prevention and longer term sustainable development, that demand more efficient business operations, that expect shared bold analytics and higher levels of accountability to the people we serve, shout out to be demonstrated in this country context. Agency leaders, funders and rule-makers must let this UN country team show the way. Photo: UNHCR / S.Ostermann / October 2014

Country Stories

Sierra Leone: Setting the stage for SDG progress in a crisis-affected country

November 9, 2016

National ownership Despite a devastating decade-long civil war (1991–2001), Sierra Leone made significant progress towards achieving the MDGs. However, in 2014–2015 the country was hit hard by the Ebola crisis as well as a coincidental collapse in international iron ore prices — a key source of fiscal revenues and foreign exchange — presenting a considerable challenge for the country’s Vision 2035 of becoming a middle-income country. Today the SDGs are being implemented against a backdrop of multiple recovery strategies, including the third Poverty Reduction Strategy (Agenda for Prosperity 2013–2018) and the National Ebola Recovery Strategy/Presidential Recovery Priorities (2015–2017). Both strategies are informed by the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States. Progress is being made on implementing the SDGs, despite the circumstances of recent years, due to strong leadership from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MOFED) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. In an impressive move, Sierra Leone’s 2016 national budget already reflects all 17 SDGs aligned with the eight pillars of the Agenda for Prosperity. The government also launched a popular version of the SDGs in the parliament during the national Budget Speech and distributed it to a cross-section of other stakeholders, including civil servants, NGOs and CSOs. With financial support from the New Deal facility,9MOFED provided a briefing to the Cabinet and held several radio talk shows to explain the SDGs to the general public. Adapting the SDGs to the national context The Government of Sierra Leone, in collaboration with the UNCT, held a technical retreat in December 2015 to review the SDGs against the landscape of existing strategies and plans, including the Agenda for Prosperity, and to draft an SDG Adaptation Report to be presented at the HLPF in 2016. This retreat included, among others, line ministries, departments and agencies, CSOs and UN agencies. Raising public awareness Public awareness-raising efforts also saw early progress in Sierra Leone. To lay the foundation, the UNCT prepared a novel SDG communications strategy which domesticated and simplified the messages of the SDGs. With the communications strategy in hand, the UNCT held two SDG photo and banner exhibitions in the capital city as well as a nationwide campaign at the Universities of Kenema, Bo, Makeni and Njala by engaging with mayors, university teachers and students. In addition, the government also held a national conference, with support from the UNCT, at the University of Makeni in March 2016, to discuss the ways to transition from the MDGs to the SDGs and the challenges facing the country in the SDG era. Another innovative move was the UN Communications Group’s special training to familiarize journalists with the SDGs and facilitate objective reporting of progress and challenges to implementation in light of the Ebola crisis. Due to these efforts, key stakeholders are well aware of the SDGs. In particular, SDG 16 on governance gained wide recognition as a critical goal for Sierra Leone as a post-conflict country and a founding member of the g7+, a voluntary association of countries that are or have been affected by conflict and are now in transition to the next stage of development. Assessing risks and fostering adaptability Lessons learned from the Ebola crisis and the collapse in international iron ore prices informed the development of the National Ebola Recovery Strategy/Presidential Recovery Priorities (2015–2017). The objective is to ensure that the country maintains zero cases of Ebola while ‘building back better’ national systems for resilience and national development, including preparedness to face future shocks and epidemics. The national strategy comprises seven presidential priority sectors: health, education, social protection, private sector development, water, energy and governance. Implementation of the first phase ended in March 2016, and the second phase started in April 2016. Discussions are under way for the presidential priorities to integrate the SDGs.

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The UN-World Bank Fragility and Conflict Partnership Trust Fund is a multi-country, multi-donor trust fund that supports partnership activities, fostering a closer relationship between the UN and the World Bank to promote a more effective and sustainable international response in fragile and conflict-affected situations. 

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Bradley Foerster

Team Leader, Policy Advisor & Regional Liaison Adviser for Arab States and Europe and Central Asia