United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

UNDP Contact Details:
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Advocates of human development and empowerment

UNDP is the UN's global development network, advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. We are on the ground in 166 countries, working with them on their own solutions to global and national development challenges. As they develop local capacity, they draw on the people of UNDP and our wide range of partners.

World leaders have pledged to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, including the overarching goal of halving absolute poverty by 2015. UNDP's network links global and national efforts to reach these Goals. Our focus is helping countries build and share solutions to the challenges of: Achieving the MDGs and Reducing Poverty, fostering Democratic Governance, Crisis Prevention and Recovery, Energy and Environment for Sustainable Development, and responding to HIV/AIDS. In all our activities, we promote the protection of human rights and the empowerment of women.

The Standard Basic Framework Agreement signed between UNDP and the Government of the Kingdom of Swaziland on the 28th October 1977 forms the basis of UNDP development support to the Kingdom outlines the basic conditions under which UNDP and its executing agencies would assist the government carry out development projects. These were defined as advisory services and consultants including provision of expert consultancy firms or organizations selected by UNDP. UNDP Resident Representative Shahid Hussain and Dr. Zonke Khumalo, acting Prime Minister at the time signed the agreement.

At five year intervals, the UN, Government and development partners including civil society identify national development priorities in a consultative and inclusive process, resulting in the United Nations Development Framework (UNDAF). The current UNDAF for the period 2006 to 2010 identifies four development priorities as HIV&AIDS, Poverty Eradication, Food Security, Basic Social Services (mainly health and education) and Governance. UNDAF areas within UNDP’s mandate are Poverty reduction; HIV&AIDS; Environment and Disaster risk reduction; Governance and Gender Mainstreaming.

In line with its core mandate, UNDP also engages with implementing partners from government and civil society to identify and jointly develop a broad framework outlining within the scope of the UNDP mandate appropriate interventions and responses. The Country Programme Action Plan (CPAP) which is UNDP plan that runs parallel with the UNDAF is signed with the Government and executed by implementing partners. The current CPAP covers the period 2006-2010 and supports interventions in Poverty Reduction and HIV&AIDS Mainstreaming and Governance Gender Mainstreaming.

Development and human empowerment

UNDP supports national processes to accelerate the progress of human development with a view to eradicate poverty through development, equitable and sustained economic growth, and capacity development. This means that all UNDP policy advice, technical support, advocacy, and contributions to strengthening coherence in global development must be aimed at one end result: real improvements in people’s lives and in the choices and opportunities open to them. UNDP has championed this integrative approach to human development since the 1990s, using the Human Development Reports as important advocacy tools. Central to the human development approach is the concept of human empowerment, which, in addition to income, treats access to education and health care, freedom of expression, the rule of law, respect for diversity, protection from violence, and the preservation of the environment as essential dimensions of human development and well-being.

The Millennium Declaration and other summits have provided the global community with a solid set of values that guide all our work. They have also set the benchmarks for concrete levels of progress to be achieved by 2015.

In line with its overall strategic plan for 2008-2011, UNDP reflect on and strives for these values and goals as well as the major global and national concerns that continue to pose obstacles to progress. The UNDP strategic plan sets an overall direction for UNDP operations in its support to programme countries that:

(a) Supports countries, within the framework of national ownership, to achieve national development objectives related to the goal of accelerating progress on human development over the next four years.

(b) Highlights the urgent need for additional efforts by the international community to make the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the MDGs a reality by 2015 for all developing countries but particularly for the least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing states.

(c) Emphasizes support to capacity development for effective aid management, and south-south cooperation as key elements which contribute to development effectiveness in UNDP activities leading to enhanced national and local capacities for human development and achievement of the MDGs.

(d) Uses inclusive and sustainable growth, as its connecting theme to place particular attention on those that are being left farthest behind in a world of expanding affluence but exploding inequality.

(e) Articulates UNDP roles in line with its mandate defined through the inter-governmental process: (i) To support the coordination and enhancement of United Nations system efficiency and effectiveness at the country level and; (ii) To provide knowledge, policy advice, advocacy, and technical support in four focus areas on the basis of good practice and comparative advantage: poverty reduction, democratic governance, crisis prevention and recovery, and environment and sustainable development.

(f) Pursues capacity development across the four focus areas to propel and sustain national changes in human development as the overarching UNDP service to programme countries.

(g) Promotes the mainstreaming of gender equality and women’s empowerment throughout its programmes as an important means to achieve the MDGs in accordance with national development strategies

(h) Allows for measurement of programme and management results to ensure accountability of UNDP in terms of outcomes.

United Nations values for development

The Millennium Declaration highlights six fundamental values necessary for sustainable human development. These are: equality, solidarity, freedom, shared responsibility, tolerance and respect for nature. UNDP is committed to supporting the realization of these values around the world, and has designed its coordination and programmatic work for 2008-2011 to reflect that commitment.

In the 2005 World Summit, heads of state and government resolved to support the further mainstreaming of human rights throughout the United Nations system. UNDP will uphold universal United Nations norms and standards, including those related to human rights. However UNDP does not have any normative or monitoring role with regard to human rights.

UNDP takes a human development-based approach to programming, which has certain basic prerequisites if it is to be effective. National leadership and ownership of development interventions is essential since development solutions reflect and are adapted to local circumstances and aspirations. Both the programmatic and coordination roles of UNDP should be demand-driven and guided by United Nations tenets of impartiality and universality. The UNDP approach to development issues at the country level is one of support to national capacity development, not of political conditionality.

The UNDP business model

Global development challenges, lessons learned, and General Assembly-directed United Nations reform, all point to the need for strengthening the UNDP business model, which encompasses support to United Nations coordination, advocacy and development services. The business model provides the framework for UNDP support to programme countries towards the fulfilment of their national development strategies, specifically noting:

Responsibility of national governments: UNDP programme support for national development priorities in affirms the responsibility of Governments in coordinating assistance at national level;

Coordination of all UN activities: UNDP is also committed to enhanced support for United Nations coordination, in line with the affirmation by resolution 34/213 of the role of the resident coordinator in terms of overall responsibility for the coordination of United Nations operational activities for development at country level, and the subsequent recommendations of General Assembly resolution 59/250 to provide further support to the resident coordinator system;

Working with all partners: UNDP is committed to the support to national governments in creating an enabling environment in which the links among national governments, the United Nations system, civil society, non-governmental organizations and the private sector are strengthened in the search for new and innovative solutions to development challenges in accordance with national policies and priorities. In that connection, UNDP will pursue innovative strategic partnerships with civil society organizations and networks, as well as with the private sector. South-South cooperation will also be an important element of corporate and country-level partnership strategies. UNDP will annually identify initiatives that gradually widen the array and impact of partnerships.

Responding to national needs: Refinement of internal institutional arrangements of UNDP to bring corporate and regional policy and advisory support closer to where they are needed on the ground, and to make those services more responsive to country programme needs. That will entail understanding the different contexts in which UNDP works, and tailoring its services (advocacy, policy and advisory, and technical support) to the specific needs of programme countries;

Commitment to use its comparative advantage: Effective knowledge management through the global presence of UNDP and use of its knowledge and resource management systems – two of its main comparative advantages. To deliver effectively on the agenda laid out in the present plan, UNDP must: (i) further expand and improve its existing knowledge networks; (ii) open the networks to other United Nations staff and help build open United Nations-wide knowledge networks; and (iii) gradually open the networks to allow direct participation by external experts, civil society and institutions. Work has already begun in all three areas.

UNDP coordination for coherence

There have been repeated calls by development partners for greater coherence in the United Nations system, and of development partners as a whole, to ensure that development cooperation and common work on global public goods becomes more efficient and effective in supporting programme countries in achieving national development goals and human development objectives.

To that end, adjustments to UNDP’s management role to the evolving needs of the Member States and the United Nations system to work more effectively and efficiently in delivering development results are addressed. UNDP will leverage its assets, experience and financial resources to strengthen overall United Nations coherence and make it a more effective development partner while re-emphasizing the need for participatory, collegial and accountable management of the resident coordinator system.

UNDP operations

National ownership: UNDP operations are anchored in the development priorities and plans of the country. National ownership constitutes the foundation of its work which is premised on the belief that relevant, responsive development strategies and solutions are those that reflect national circumstances, capacities and aspirations. Development cooperation must therefore be led and managed by the country concerned, demand-driven, and based on effective aid management and mutual accountability.

National priorities: The comparative advantage of UNDP lies in its holistic, cross-sector approach to human development. It has a vital programmatic role in contributing to global, regional and country-level efforts, through strengthened United Nations development effectiveness, to achieve the MDGs and other international goals, based on country-level experience, lessons learned, consultations with partners, and established inter-governmental agreements. UNDP seeks to be fully responsive to national priorities and vigilant in avoiding unnecessary overlap and duplication with development partners, including specialized United Nations entities.

Capacity development: If national ownership governs the selection and design of UNDP programmes, then capacity development, simply stated, is ‘how we do it’. At the request of governments, UNDP will seek to strengthen national capacities in four areas of comparative advantage aligned with the values and objectives of the Millennium Declaration: poverty reduction and the MDGs; democratic governance; crisis prevention and recovery; and environment and sustainable development. The inclusion of these focus areas in the strategic plan is not intended to suggest a one-size-fits-all approach, but rather to communicate particular areas of high demand for support that are matched with UNDP strengths. These are areas where stakeholders expect strong performance by the organization, with measurable results.

National ownership

UNDP activities are based on the premise that governments have the primary responsibility for the development of their countries and for establishing and leading the national development agenda. National ownership is integral to the harmonized United Nations programming process. That process builds on a development analysis, on which the UNDAF is based, resulting in the UNDP country programme document. That documentation frames the United Nations development role in a country, and is undertaken in direct response to national development strategies and priorities and aligned with national programming cycles. Full government engagement is sought throughout the programming process. UNDP country programmes are demand-driven, are designed and implemented jointly by national partners and UNDP, and are subject to approval and review by the Executive Board.

Capacity development: the overarching contribution of UNDP

Human development – with its focus on the expansion and use of institutional and human capabilities – provides the conceptual basis for the longstanding UNDP commitment to capacity development. UNDP methodologies reflect a shift from a supply-driven approach to a nationally led change process and give tangible form to the principle of national ownership.

Poverty reduction and achievement of the MDGs

Promoting inclusive growth, gender equality and achievement of the MDGs

Poverty reduction is at the centre of United Nations work in development. As stated earlier, while economic growth is essential to human progress, it is not sufficient for achieving the MDGs. UNDP will support countries in accelerating inclusive growth to ensure equitable, broad-based human development. National human development reports, involving a broad spectrum of society in cooperation with national authorities, can inform and complement national planning documents and build the necessary ‘bridges’ between the gross domestic product/financial accounting approach and the wider, deeper human development approach.

UNDP assists countries in formulating, implementing and monitoring MDG-based national development strategies centred on inclusive growth and gender equality. That includes technical support for participatory MDG-related planning, reviewing existing strategies, and conducting needs assessments. Based on national requests, UNDP will help identify policy options, undertake diagnostic studies and conduct training to build local and national capacity. Emphasis will also be placed on supporting MDG planning processes at the sub-national level.

The contribution of UNDP will focus especially on four critical dimensions of the effort to build inclusive growth and achieve the MDGs. First among those is to integrate the pursuit of the MDGs into a national development strategy that links the MDGs to each other, captures synergies, and is comprehensive.

Second is to analyse data to help governments decide on the relative allocation of resources for health, education, irrigation, transport, and other sectors. UNDP can support analysis of the trade-offs, of the interaction between economic decisions and broader dimensions of human development, and of the overall coordination and harmonization process involving the donor community. Third is to help create an enabling environment for access to a broad range of financial services, supporting the role of the private sector and small and micro-enterprises as potential vehicles for generating growth and employment, reducing poverty, and providing the poor with greater access to markets, goods, and services.

Fourth is to scale up public investments needed to achieve the MDGs. UNDP has invested significantly in building its capacity to provide support to countries in formulating and implementing MDG-based national development strategies.

An important part of the work will be to support countries in assessing which state interventions can have the largest impact on reducing persistent inequities in a manner consistent with MDG achievement in highly unequal middle-income countries. The policy analysis that will emerge from work on inequality will address fundamental issues of the inclusive growth agenda. Equity, inclusiveness and the effective reduction of poverty, depend on the ability of institutions to deliver public goods and social services, effectively regulate markets in the public interest and provide legal access to economic assets and opportunities in ways that are fair and equitable. Mitigating the impact of HIV/AIDS on human development

By the end of 2005, almost 40 million people were living with HIV around the world, and over 25 million had died of AIDS. Reaching the MDG target of halting and reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other diseases by 2015 is critical to achieving the other MDGs targets, particularly those related to poverty, education, gender equality, and child and maternal mortality.

As a founding co-sponsor of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), UNDP is responding to the multisectoral challenges of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and contributing to comprehensive United Nations system action. The UNDP response to HIV/AIDS is guided by the UNAIDS division of labour, which designates UNDP as the lead United Nations organization for addressing the dimensions of HIV/AIDS relating to development, governance, mainstreaming, legislation, human rights and gender. Within that framework, and taking into account the role of UNDP in the global response to pandemics as ‘principal recipient of last resort’ for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, during 2008-2011 UNDP will work with its government partners to focus its interventions in four priority areas:

Integrating HIV/AIDS concerns into national development processes: Mainstreaming HIV priorities into national planning processes and poverty reduction strategies is critical to ensuring implementation of effective multi-sector action to mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS on sectors, communities and households. As recommended by the Global Task Team on Improving AIDS Coordination, UNDP is leading a global joint programme with the World Bank and the UNAIDS secretariat to provide technical support and resources to countries. UNDP is in charge of multi-stakeholder capacity-building activities and support to implementation at the country level, while the World Bank guides training activities at the regional level. The joint programme now covers 14 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and will be expanded to an estimated additional 40 countries during 2008-2011.

Strengthening the governance component of AIDS responses: In order to respond to the complexity of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, national responses require coherence and coordination at the national level coupled with decentralized action and the participation of a wide range of stakeholders across government, civil society and the private sector. Strengthening the coordination capacity of national AIDS authorities, and promoting harmonization and alignment of United Nations system and donor support to national efforts, is a priority in order to avoid the duplication and fragmentation of programmes. UNDP also promotes meaningful civil society participation in planning, implementation and evaluation of AIDS responses – particularly networks of people living with HIV, women’s groups, and vulnerable and marginalized groups affected by AIDS.

Promoting human rights and gender equality: Protecting human rights and promoting gender equality are essential for reducing vulnerability to HIV and mitigating the impact of AIDS on women and girls. AIDS stigma and discrimination drive the epidemic underground and hinder access to prevention, treatment, care and support services. Promoting an enabling legislative environment and women’s empowerment is critical to scaling up HIV/AIDS responses.

Accelerating implementation of Global Fund programmes to tackle AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria: Countries are receiving more funding than ever before from multilateral initiatives such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, but they are often unable to implement necessary programmes effectively due to insufficient or overstretched capacity. UNDP collaborates with the Global Fund in developing the capacities of national stakeholders to implement Global Fund grants to tackle AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. In circumstances where there are no suitable national recipients, countries have asked UNDP to provide financial and programmatic oversight for Global Fund grants in its capacity as principal recipient of last resort. In addition, UNDP builds the capacity of local partners to develop, implement, manage and track their own Global Fund programmes. MORE

Democratic governance

To consolidate and deepen democracy, free and fair elections must go hand in hand with efforts to support all people in attaining the opportunity to participate in the decisions affecting their lives. Local, regional and national governments must use their capacity and resources to deliver effective economic and social policies that promote human development and manage the public services that citizens expect. Moreover governance needs to be grounded in the principles of human rights, transparency and honesty, and gender equality embodied in the United Nations Charter and internationally agreed mandates.

At the request of programme countries, UNDP supports democratic governance goals through strengthening core institutions at all levels: national, regional and local/decentralized. The general challenges of consolidating and deepening democracy apply to developed as well as developing countries.

Fostering inclusive participation

UNDP supports national authorities in strengthening civic engagement at the local, regional and national levels. Mechanisms and opportunities for this engagement include electoral laws, institutions and processes, mobilization channels (such as political parties and civil society organizations), and communications channels (access to information networks, e-governance, and independent media). UNDP democratic governance initiatives are designed to support the efforts of programme countries to enhance participation in public policy dialogues and decision-making.

Strengthening accountable and responsive governing institutions

Enhancing accountability and responsive institutions is a critical element of democratic governance for human development. UNDP support to national governments focuses upon three branches of government: (a) strengthening legislatures, regional elected bodies, and local assemblies; (b) supporting public administration reforms, in national governments and local authorities; and (c) promoting access to justice and the rule of law. In these areas, programme priority is given to strengthening the mechanisms of responsiveness and public accountability to the concerns and interests of poor people, women, and other vulnerable or excluded groups. UNDP supports effective national public policy processes where the public sector at local, regional and national levels develops the capacity and resources to manage policies and services.

One main initiative in this area is to focus on multisectoral accountability mechanisms. UNDP has amassed considerable experience on specific interventions to improve accountability to the poor and those women who are excluded, such as access to justice, gender-based budgeting, parliamentary oversight, and citizen report cards. But until now, many interventions have focused on a single sector. Challenges in accountability systems include the interaction among institutions and sectors – between government and parliament, civil society and government, or rule-making institutions and justice enforcement mechanisms, for example.

Grounding democratic governance in international principles

At the 2005 World Summit, member states emphasized that the United Nations should “strengthen linkages between the normative work of the United Nations system and its operational activities”. UNDP will respond to requests from national partners to build national institutional capacity for implementing human rights, gender equality, and anti-corruption standards appropriate in each context. MORE

Crisis prevention and recovery

More than 40 countries have suffered violent conflicts since the turn of the century, resulting in over 25 million internally displaced persons and an estimated additional 12 million refugees. Since 2000, there have been over 2,800 natural disasters affecting Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania. Compared to violent conflicts, the increasing frequency and scale of natural disasters pose separate but interlinked challenges, both economic and humanitarian. Today, 85 per cent of the people at risk of experiencing natural disasters live in countries with medium to low levels of human development.

While violent conflicts and natural disasters affect both developed and developing countries, their effect on countries with high levels of poverty and inequality has been to compound existing problems. This is particularly pronounced in countries suffering repeated disasters or protracted conflicts. Those countries find themselves caught in a vicious cycle of crisis, poverty and risk, which can fuel instability at the national, regional and global levels.

UNDP assists countries that are prone to natural disasters or face imminent conflict and have experienced severe disruptions in critical national or local capacities, and countries that have been designated by the Security Council or Peacebuilding Commission as having a priority post-conflict situation. UNDP recognizes the unique challenges in each different country setting and adjusts its assistance to the needs and demands of each country. Some kinds of international support requested by national governments are common to both post-conflict and post-disaster situations, such as developing national and local capacities to manage risks, assess needs, and plan, lead, and coordinate recovery. However, the national capacity to manage and recover from crises varies in post-conflict and post-natural disaster situations and from country to country, with the resulting need to tailor the support offered to each specific situation. Gender empowerment will be given special emphasis throughout all UNDP activities in crisis-affected countries. The UNDP ‘Eight Point Agenda for Women’s Empowerment’ and ‘Gender Equality in Crisis Prevention and Recovery’ will guide the activities within this area.

Disaster risk reduction: UNDP will work with national partners to integrate information derived from disaster risk assessments into national development plans and programmes, and will support the development of appropriate institutional and legislative systems and coordination mechanisms for managing and reducing disaster risks. This will include measures to promote gender equality and a focus on the most vulnerable groups. UNDP will support national partner assessments of natural disaster risk with tools such as the global disaster risk index. UNDP programmes include a special focus on managing urban risks and climate-related risks, taking account of urbanization and climate change. MORE

Environment and sustainable development

Poor people depend disproportionately on the environment for their livelihoods. Despite growing attention to environmental issues over the last two decades, insufficient progress has been made in integrating environment issues into national development priorities and financing those priorities. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment of 2005 reported that over 60 per cent of the ecosystem services provided worldwide are in decline. The poor continue to have very limited access to energy services. Indeed, the number of people without access to modern energy services has declined only marginally over the last decades. Some 1.1 billion people in developing countries still lack access to clean water, and 2.5 billion lack access to modern fuel for cooking and heating. Added to those challenges, climate change is a growing threat to livelihoods and development: droughts, floods and other weather-related events reverse development in many parts of the world.

In degraded environments women have to spend more of their time collecting water and fuel wood, and children suffer more from respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases. Last year alone 1.8 million children died as a result of contaminated water supplies. Many community groups and ethnic minorities lack a voice in the management of shared resources and have little security of tenure over the land, forests and fisheries they manage. In all, local administrations have limited capacities to manage natural resources and provide services to the poor.

The UNDP goal in the area of environment and energy is to strengthen national capacity to manage the environment in a sustainable manner while ensuring adequate protection of the poor. Specific results have been identified to mainstream environmental and energy issues into development planning; mobilize finance for improved environmental management; address increasing threats from climate change; and build local capacity to better manage the environment and deliver services, especially water and energy. UNDP recognizes that disaster risk reduction has many elements in common with climate risk reduction and, where appropriate, will combine its efforts in these two areas.

Mainstreaming environment and energy

UNDP will continue to support capacity development for countries to ensure that environment and energy are taken into account in drawing up and implementing national policies, strategies and programmes, also considering the inclusion of multilateral environmental agreements. Such capacity will include the ability to conduct environmental and energy assessments and ensure broad public participation in policy articulation. UNDP will provide advice, methodologies and tools. Substantive support will be offered in combating land degradation and desertification (including through the Drylands Development Centre); water governance and resource management; biodiversity and ecosystem services for development; chemical management; and energy service delivery. In the case of land degradation and biodiversity conservation, UNDP will continue to mobilize GEF and other funding in its capacity as an implementing agency of the GEF.

Promoting adaptation to climate change

Evidence is mounting that climate change undermines development efforts: drought, land degradation, degraded water supplies and biodiversity loss threaten development in general, and the poor in particular. The objective of UNDP in climate change is to reduce the risk that it poses to developing countries – particularly for the poor – so as to permit attainment of the MDGs.

In addition to supporting countries in mitigating climate change (through energy efficiency programmes, for example), UNDP will enhance its capacity to respond to programme country requests for assistance in their efforts to adapt to the consequences of climate change. To achieve that objective, the strategy of UNDP focuses on supporting countries in (a) assessing vulnerability in key sectors; (b) integrating climate change risk considerations into national development plans and policies; and (c) gaining access to new funding sources to support innovative adaptation initiatives. MORE

Gender equality and the empowerment of women

The Millennium Summit of 2000 reaffirmed gender equality (MDG-3) and women’s empowerment as development goals, and underlined gender equality as an important means of achieving the other MDGs in accordance with national development strategies. UNDP integrates a gender perspective into its four focus areas to increase development effectiveness. In addition, UNDP sets clear targets and benchmarks while creating enabling incentives and accountability systems throughout its own organization so as to achieve gender parity and gender sensitivity in the workplace. UNDP keeps its Executive Board on its progress in becoming a more gender-balanced organization, including among resident coordinators, and will continue to build internal capacity to address gender dimensions in all its work. MORE