The UN Country Team in Nigeria visits a local community
The United Nations Country Team (UNCT) led by the Resident Coordinator, Mr Daouda Toure, recently held its 2014 annual retreat and engaged local communities in Ibadan, Oyo State, South-West Nigeria.
Attended by representatives of eighteen UN Agencies, Programmes and Funds including the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), Lagos, represented by its National Information Officer, Oluseyi Soremekun, the retreat featured a courtesy call on the Governor of Oyo State; visit to UN project sites; presentations on the implementation of the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) III and its core component, Delivery as One (DaO).
Receiving the team in his office, the Executive Governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, expressed his appreciation of the choice of Oyo State as the host the UNCT annual retreat. He pledged the support of his administration to all UN programmes and projects in the State.
The Governor therefore sought the assistance of the United Nations on seven fronts: Development of an Industrial park; Peace and Security; Physical Infrastructure; Preventive medical service delivery; Logistics centre; Agricultural development and Training especially vocational training, knowledge and skill acquisition.
In his remarks, the Resident Coordinator acknowledged the commitment of the government of Oyo State to infrastructural development and empowerment of the people. However, Mr Toure noted that there were still more to do, especially in the area of health management, education and youth empowerment.
In line with its programmes, the UNCT made a field visit to Sabo Community to engage some young women who were beneficiaries of an empowerment scheme supported by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The team also visited another ILO-supported project site to engage rescued victims of child labour, who had been enrolled in Agbaje Memorial Primary School at Agbaje market area of Ibadan, the Oyo state capital. The project which was to eliminate child labour in the community, had assisted over 110 children to go back to school.
In an interactive session, one of the rescued children, Mariam Agbaje, age 10, disclosed to the UNCT that she was engaged to pick melons in the market for which she was being paid the sum of Thirty-Naira (N30) per day. Another rehabilitated child worker, Ayomide Oladokun, 12 years said he was a street hawker of water in a sachet, popularly known as ‘pure water’ with a daily wage of N30 on a turnover over of N500. Both of them were grateful to the UN and Gallilee Foundation, the project managers, for rescuing them from the dangers of the street and bringing them to school. They expressed their joy of being with other children in the classrooms.
Engaging the women, many of whom were widows, the UNCT had a first-hand accounts of the huge impact a UN project had made in the lives of people. The women, who spoke one after the other, acknowledged that the project had organised them into cooperative society; empowered them in such a way that they could afford to send their children to school and make daily savings from the income generated from the project economic empowerment scheme.
In their deliberation at the retreat, the UNCT noted that elections is a major flagship programme for the UN in Nigeria; therefore, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the lead Agency on elections, was mandated to convene a meeting of Agencies that have planned activities related to elections to agree on a road map of working together to Deliver as One.
Speaking on the elections, the Resident Coordinator assured that the UN would reinforce its advocacy to the Federal Government that issues of elections should not stop interventions in other thematic areas.
In regards to Delivering as One (DaO), the UNCT noted that all the states of the federation were DaO states explaining that any UN Agency that had presence in any state, would speak and act for the UN. However, Agency leads in some states were decided: the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) as the lead Agency; Lagos -(World Health Organisation – (WHO); Anambra - UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF); Oyo and Kogi - UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO); Benue - UNICEF; Borno – UNICEF; Ekiti - UNDP; Cross River - UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and Niger - UNDP.
The retreat ended with a sound commitment by the UNCT to implement the UNDAF III 2014 -2017, with vigour and within the framework of Delivering as One UN.