By Peter Duru
As the United Nations Development Assistance Framework, UNDAF III, gradually windup, Benue state has expressed its desire to be included in the UNDAF IV programme cycle to improve the well-being of its populace.
The Director General of the Benue State Planning Commission, Linus Ode, made this known at the 2017 UNDAF Mid Year Review/Planning for 2018 Meeting, held in Makurdi.
Ode expressed the commitment of the state government to providing the enabling environment and also ensuring that the Government Counterpart Cash Contribution, GCCC, for the various sectors were paid despite the current economic downturn in the country. He said “Benue state has been committed to working together in a spirit of partnership in implementing and achieving results set out for 2014-2017 United Nations Development Assistance Framework, UNDAF. “As the UNDAF III comes to an end, it is imperative to review all activities from 2014-2017 the achievements and the challenges and come out with better ideas. It is our sincere desire that Benue state be included in the UNDAF IV programme cycle. “In line with this, Governor Samuel Ortom has expressed the desire for the state to be selected for the UNDAF IV since the collaboration with the United Nation has improved the general wellbeing of the Benue populace especially the vulnerable groups. “The purpose of this meeting therefore is to jointly appraise the implementation of activities of the 2017 Annual Work Plan, AWP, and come up with ideas that will give us best results and also plan for the 2018 programming year. “As usual it is expected that at the end of this meeting a draft plan for the 2018 will also be produced.” Ode urged all the participants to contribute meaningfully to ensure that the objectives of the meeting were met. Welcoming participants and stakeholders at the meeting, the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, Chief of Field Office, Enugu, Mr. Ibrahim Conteh said the UNDAF was a framework put in place to assist Nigeria through technical support and capacity building. Conteh added that work had been done in areas such as capacity building for farmers, shelter for the displaced, immunization for children and a lot others. He said the United Nations’ contribution were focused and results oriented stressing that the essence of the Mid-Year Review was to see what results had been obtained in the last six months and monitor progress overtime.
Conteh pledged that the UN would focus on supporting the government on the welfare of the people and urged that holistic programs such as education, nutrition and protection should go together for a child “and this will mean sometimes we all come together.”
He charged participants to continually work together and foster unity to make the desired meaningful change. Speaking shortly after the end of the review, pending the publication of the report, the UNICEF Chief of Field Office said “after six months of implementing activities for this year in the state, it became important to come together to review four thematic areas that have been done by different partners, which includes human security, governance, food security and education or basic social services. “And it was interesting that we had participation from different United Nation agencies and we were able to have very fruitful and useful discussions on some of the things we have been doing in terms of intervention in the state.
“In the course of the review we came up with some new strategies on how we can move forward to the next level and it was all very interesting. It was a very good review. We are taking some of the issues on board as we plan for the next assistance framework.”
“But one of the challenges I saw in the review is that in as much the different agencies are working in the state they don’t seem to be working together as a team.
“There is need for the different agencies to come together in one particular programme or activity in a particular area because that will ensure that you see a more visible change in the lives of the people.
“At the moment the activities seemed to be scattered all over. The different agencies are doing different things all over but we are hoping that the government will create an environment where all of these will come together and converge so that we can see a much more visible change.”
Conteh observed. On the issue of some of the programmes winding up in a short time and the ability of the government to sustain them, he said, “that is a challenge, this is why as we do initiate a programne we keep on informing the government that they have to have ownership. “So basically we hope that the government will take over from where funding stops. We know that Benue state government is committed to supporting development activities. In fact they have been contributing substantially on their own part. “Hence we hope that if the donors pull out, the government will continue from there because we have been discussing about that already. “So the only thing is that we need to come out with a proper exit strategy which will ensure that there will be continuity even after funding has stopped.”