THE United Nations in Eritrea held its first Development Partners’ Forum for 2014 on 17 June in Asmara.
Hosted by Ms. Christine N. Umutoni, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator (UNRC/HC) in Eritrea, the forum introduced a new format which provided the UN’s development partners with the opportunity to brief each other on their programmes and partnerships in Eritrea.
The forum aims to provide a platform for information exchange and discussion to forge stronger partnerships in support of Eritrea’s development efforts.
“In previously held fora, the UN in Eritrea updated development partners on the work of the UN and its partnership with Government,” said Ms. Umutoni.
“It was a one-way conversation and we’ve revived the format so that in the spirit of true partnership, all partners can now brief each other and discuss matters of common interest,” she added.
Ms. Umutoni further commended the Eritrean government for participating in the ongoing UPR process in Geneva and noted the statement on Independence Day made by the President on Eritrea’s plan to embark on the constitutional review.
The first presentations on bilateral cooperation under the new format of the forum were made by the Ambassadors of South Africa and the EU Delegation in Eritrea.
South African Ambassador to Eritrea, H.E. Prof. Iqbal Jhazbhay reported on the strong partnership with Eritrea in the mining sector, trade and in capacity building.
H.E. Ambassador Marchel Gerrmann, Head of the EU Delegation, chronicled progress in the implementation of the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) since July 2013. The 10th EDF is worth approximately Euro 50 million and focuses on food security and agriculture targeting 400,000 people.
The 11th EDF is at an exploratory phase and will focus on renewable and sustainable energy.
The Eritrea Development Partners’ Forum currently does not include the Government of Eritrea but Ms. Umutoni is hopeful that the Government will agree to participate and eventually lead the discussions as was done in the past as this will help partners to align their support to the Government’s priorities.
A task team will be formed to reshape the business of the Eritrea Development Partners’ Forum in line with lessons learnt from the past and the current realities of partnerships for Eritrean development.
During the forum, Ms. Umutoni also appreciated the Government for facilitating the first and very productive review meeting on the implementation of the Strategic Partnership Cooperation Framework (SPCF) 2013 -2016.
Among other things, the SPCF review meeting secured joint commitments to improve and expedite programme implementation, hold quarterly and adhoc reviews, harmonization of UN procedures and improved coordination in general.
The Eritrea Development Partners’ Forum was attended by ambassadors and staff from various embassies, honorary consuls, heads of international organizations as well as members of the UNCT and senior staff from the UN.