Dakar, 15 December 2020: Members of the regional management team of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) from 23 Countries in West and Central Africa have completed a three-day planning meeting to smoothly wrap-up 2020, and usher in 2021. The regional planning meeting held virtually from 9 to 11 December 2020, brought together more than 75 members, including the Regional Director, the Deputy Regional Director, Resident Representatives, Deputies, Assistants and Regional Advisors.
UNFPA Deputy Executive Director for Programmes Dr. Diene Keita also joined from Headquarters to commend the team for their admirable work and spur them to do more.
“I know that it has been a challenging year, yet you have all been on the ground to ensure that we reach the last mile to achieve the three transformative results.” Dr. Diene Keita encouraged the team to carry on with the noble goal of delivering until the very last mile and leaving no one behind, even amidst an unprecedented global health crisis.
The coronavirus pandemic significantly impacted 2020 and challenged how UNFPA conducted business at the global, regional and country office levels. In the stock-taking and planning meeting held under the leadership of the UNFPA Regional Director for West and Central Africa Mabingue Ngom, he applauded the resilience, commitment, and engagement of staff in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we meet, we reflect on progress made, celebrate the successes, and learn from our positive and not-so-positive experiences to better help countries achieve the three transformative results.” Mabingue invited the managers to review the lessons learned, and scale-up and accelerate interventions to improve the impact of projects and programmes.
The organization has increased its capacity for creativity and innovation to deliver on its mandate during the pandemic. Country Offices had to do things differently to achieve the expected results. They shared their experiences across different areas of UNFPA’s mandate, including but not limited to conducting general population and housing censuses, supporting Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services, and mobilizing and empowering youth during the pandemic.
In Congo, for instance, UNFPA successfully conducted the census mapping exercise without registering any COVID-19 positive case among the field personnel. This was a result of strict adherence to corporate preventive measures and following guidelines of the national response to COVID-19.
Drawing from the experience of responding to the Ebola Virus Disease in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, where the health systems were unprepared to deal with the pandemic, UNFPA recognized that dealing with an outbreak required addressing immediate challenges while simultaneously developing recovery interventions to build back community and health system resilience systems better.
UNFPA had to adapt and be agile. Resources were reallocated or mobilized to fund the response plan in countries. UNFPA continues to support SRH through documenting and sharing best practices and lessons learned, advocating for the continuity of SRH services, and playing a leadership role to coordinate national and UN bodies.
Other projects presented and discussed included the New Deal initiative in Senegal, the Demography, Peace and Security project in the Sahel countries, Spotlight Initiative in four focus countries, the Lake Chad Basin Coordination Platform, the SWEDD initiative, the Ghana Youth Fellowship and others.
While taking stock of how the initiatives added impetus toward achieving the three transformative results, they noted the significance of 2021 as the last year of the current strategic plan. Hence, recommendations for 2021 focused on improving programme effectiveness and efficiency, including ensuring integrated joint annual work plans, and strengthening programme and operations management tools for efficient programming and accountability to achieve better results in the region.
The regional planning meeting also allowed the managers to delve into the ongoing preparations for the 2022-2025 Strategic Plan. The new strategic plan will add impetus and accelerate interventions to achieve the three transformative results and the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
Jacob Enoh Eben | Regional Communications Advisor, UNFPA WCARO | +221 77 358 6662 | firstname.lastname@example.org