Transition from relief to development: Advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in crisis contexts

The original speech of the UN Resident Coordinator in Burkina Faso, Metsi Makhetha, at the ECOSOC Joint Informal Event of the Operational Activities and Humanitarian Affairs Segments. Geneva, 21 June 2017.



Distinguished delegates,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for the opportunity to share how the UN in Burkina is working with authorities, partners and all key stakeholders to reduce humanitarian needs, create conditions for sustaining peace and support the implementation of the national economic and social development plan in a manner that ensures no-one is left behind.

As some of you would know, Burkina Faso successfully managed its political transition which was triggered by the popular uprisings in October 2014, followed by a transitional government and the ushering of a new government in January 2016.

The successful transition brings with it high expectations for the new government to consolidate the gains of the transition.

It also carries all the vulnerabilities, fragilities, risks and grievances accumulated over the years.

The adoption in July 2016, by the new government of a national plan for social and economic development for the period 2016 – 2020, fully supported by development partners and the international community, has brought hope to many.

But, the risks to its full and effective implementation remain.

They are discernable and predictable. They can also be mapped geographically and localized.

The most immediate pertain to high expectations, that while implementing the national plan for social and economic development, the government be seen at the same time acting on and addressing, with determined resolve, impunity, social injustice and prioritizing areas where it is felt the state is not present.

It is also expected to implement the social compact that was signed by all key stakeholders on the “renewal of the justice system’ and to create conditions for national reconciliation.

Importantly, government is called to translate the new political era into tangible development benefits for the population in the most inclusive manner possible and ensuring security for all.

There is an Imperative for Action to End Need and an Urgency for Prevention.

On the imperative for Action to end need – The past five years, malnutrition has been addressed through a humanitarian response costing on average $ 30 million/annum.

With respect to the urgency of Prevention – in addition to high expectations generated by the political transition, the country ranks 7.6 out of 10 according to INFORM conflict risk projection.

The Sahel region in Burkina Faso, is characterized by chronic food insecurity, malnutrition and increasing insecurity. Chronic malnutrition stands at 33% compared to national average of 27%.

Recent shocks and terrorist attacks in the Sahel region put additional pressure on an already fragile context and where state presence is/was minimal.

They also, put into stark focus the urgency of prevention through joint action and coordinated effort among respondents and actors (humanitarian and development).

For the first time since 2012, Burkina Faso, some of the most affected localities are now in emergency phase including, from a food security perspective (IPC4).

The government of Burkina Faso is to be commended for its leadership and responsiveness as evidenced by decision to formulate an emergency Response Plan for the Sahel.

We can end need, reduce risks, help consolidate gains of the transition and enable Burkina Faso to embark on a sustainable development path.

New Way of Working and Sustaining Peace in Burkina Faso

It is in this context, guided by the commitment to end need, reach those furthest behind and sustain peace – working differently was not option.

Having two planning processes, one for humanitarian action and the other for development, with two response plans (HRP and UNDAF) for same communities in one country was not tenable.

Accordingly, Burkina Faso started transitioning from a stand-alone Human Response plans in 2016. This was done through a number of actions including:

  • Agreement with government on applying vulnerability and risk lens.
  • Consultations with Humanitarian actors and UN Country teams.
  • Designing the process of formulating the new UNDAF in a manner that would enable (humanitarian and development actors) to undertake joint assessment and joint planning (Joint assessment January 2017).
  • Using the Humanitarian needs overview process and findings (HNO) to inform the common country assessment and as a way of bringing in vulnerabilities into the UNDAF process.
  • Creating a space for active engagement and joint planning –  participation of all key stakeholders in the planning process at a strategic planning workshop during which government, UN agencies, partners, local and international NGOs agreed on common action anchored in the SDGs and common outcomes (humanitarian and development actors) with particular focus on SDG2 and SDG16 (1st week of March 2017)

The soon to be finalised new UN framework of cooperation in Burkina Faso, commonly known as UNDAF, will reflect UN support to Burkina Faso based on the New way of Working and, guided by leaving no-one behind (2030 agenda) and the Prevention agenda (Sustaining peace).

The UN in Burkina Consolidating Capacities

Based on risks identified, need to address underlying vulnerabilities and the urgency of prevention, the UN is consolidating its capacities in country for analysis and early warning, coherence and integration.

This is done through a dedicated team in the Resident Coordinator Office, drawn from across the system.

Given the political nature of some of the engagements, political good offices and analyses are also brought in from the SRSG and UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel, as well as through the Peace and Development Advisor to support the nascent security sector reform process.

Catalytic financing has been obtained from the Peace Building support office to accompany the national reconciliation process and provide expertise in transitional justice and security sector reform.

Looking ahead, the lesson emerging is that for the UN to effectively contribute to ending need through a New Way of Working and carry out its mandate of sustaining peace, a flexible and blended financing instrument is needed.

The current context and situation in the Sahel revealed this gap – which if not filled represents a risk.

Building on the political commitment and leadership from the government, the UN country team will continue engaging all key partners to sustain action on collective outcomes and maintain dialogue towards generating social and economic opportunities on the short, medium term and beyond the period of the national development plan (2016 – 2020).

But we cannot do this without your support.

Thank you for your kind attention.

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