Representatives of the United Nations System in The Gambia and the Gambia government on Thursday gathered at the Laico Atlantic Hotel in Banjul for a day long joint annual review of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF).
UNDAF is the overall framework that governs the coordination and implementation of the United Nations System's interventions in The Gambia.
UNDAF 2012-2016 seeks to support the national development priorities identified by PAGE, and some of these programmes are to a great extent linked to the UNDAF strategic pillars for poverty reduction and social protection.
PAGE, The Gambia's next national medium term development plan, aimed to address major challenges to the attainment of PRSP II, MDGs and Vision 2020 objectives.
Key to overcoming these development challenges is the attainment by 2015 of the accelerated growth rate of 10 percent that is broad-based and creates employment.
To determine the level of successes, progresses and constraints during the implementation of the pillars, stakeholders from ministries, civil society organizations, civil sector organization and government development partners and United Nation Agencies gathered for a review of the development assistance framework.
Addressing the gathering, the FAO country representative, Dr. Babagana Ahmadu, stated that the UNDAF annual meeting offers a unique opportunity to take account of the joint UN system activities for the year 2012 with partners in terms of their success and challenges, and avails the chance to forge a way forward.
According to him, the UN country team in collaboration with the Gambia government and other stakeholders commenced the implementation of the present UNDAF from 2012 to 2016 last year.
"The decision to conduct a joint annual review is in response to the commitment of UN system in The Gambia to deliver as one and support the implementation of the Paris Declaration on aid coordination, harmonization, alignment and managing for results," he said, adding that UNDAF is a key element of the UN reform and joint response of the UN country team and the Gambia government to the national development priorities.
The UNDAF consists of three closely linked priority pillars of poverty reduction and social protection, enhancing the social services and strengthening good governance, which are also key targets of the PAGE from 2012 to 2015.
"The annual review is a critical instrument to transform the UN's work in the field and it is this same aspiration to see the UN perform at its best-which brings us together today," Dr Babagana further stated.
However, he went on, "it is clear that we need to work together to be able to achieve aid effectiveness and to support the efforts of the government to improve development performance".
Olimatou Jawara, permanent secretary at the Office of the President, said that UNDAF is an overall framework that governs the coordination and implementation of the United Nation's System's interventions in The Gambia.
"It is the operational framework that guides the work of all agencies towards a common vision and strategy in support of Gambia's socio-economic development priorities," she stated.
She revealed that after it was launched in January 2012, the necessary institutional arrangements were formed to ensure the effective implementation and strengthened coordination of its programmes.
"It is my opinion that achieving the set objectives and outcomes is possible only through a high sense of commitment, communication and sacrifice from all stakeholders, hence popular attendance is highly valued as a demonstration of our desire to chart a common destiny for achievement of the country's national aspirations," Mrs Jawara added.
While calling for renewed sense of commitment and desire for continued development of the country, Mrs Jawara, said great challenges lie ahead in terms of deliverables.