The Country Office in South Africa had the wonderful opportunity to host Mr Björn Andersson, the UNFPA Chief of Staff in the Office of the Executive Director.
Courtesy call with Ambassador of Sweden: 9 November 2015
The first engagement was a courtesy call with His Excellency The Ambassador of Sweden, Anders Hagelberg, to discuss matters of mutual interest. He extended thank you to Sweden for the long standing significant political and financial support to the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action (ICPD PoA) and UNFPA as a whole. Discussions focused on South Africa’s youthful population and the need for more investment in education and health for the youth, in order to harness the demographic dividend. Due to the strong common interest in the development of young people, and as a contribution to the Country Office, HE the Ambassador again offered the use of his residence for UNFPA- organised roundtable fora and events in the future. He offered to bring in senior persons from Stockholm to engage, if appropriate at such gatherings. The meeting was concluded by stressing the need for continued collaboration on moving the ICPD agenda forward as part of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Staff Meeting with Country Office: 9 November 2015
Later at Metropark House in Pretoria, at the country office, Björn engaged with staff at a special staff meeting convened to discuss the Country Programme and key organisational matters. It was a unique opportunity for all staff, including those in the provinces and two representatives of the Youth Advisory Panel (YAP), to engage with him on pertinent matters. South Africa being classified as a middle- income country was a major subject of discussion; staff expressed openly their thoughts and requested his input into the evolving way of UNFPA participation in the developments in the country.
Government of South Africa/ UNFPA Country Programme National Coordination Forum: 10 November 2015
The Department of Social Development (DSD) hosted the bi- annual National Coordination Forum in Pretoria to report on progress made by UNFPA- supported districts, share information amongst stakeholders and finalise work plans for the following year by implementing districts. Appreciation was expressed for the technical support provided by UNFPA and the impact the work has created in supporting interventions that improve the quality and utilisation of sexual and reproductive health services, family planning and HIV prevention efforts. Mr Andersson extended gratitude to the South African government and in particular for the work done in New York to advance the ICPD agenda earlier on. He requested the government to continue encouraging other countries on the continent to move the ICPD PoA and other regional & global commitments. The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) also shared with the participants’ government plans for the implementation of the SDGs. It is going to be important for the Presidency to take charge of this.
Site Visit to loveLife Y-Centre: 10 November 2015
There was a site visit to a loveLife Y- centre which is situated in eMalahleni, a few kilometres from Witbank in Mpumalanga province. The Y-centre is right in the heart of the township, serving young people who are in and out of school, where social ills are rife: drugs and substance abuse, unemployment, teenage pregnancy, school drop-out, violent crime and HIV/AIDS. The Y-centre has been serving the community of eMalahleni and the surroundings for over 13 years. UNFPA has actively engaged with loveLife specifically on the Programme ‘iloveLife’. The centre supports young people in empowerment initiatives, focused on the youth leadership programmes. Applying the “groungBreaker” model, the organisation reaches a large number of young people with knowledge and information. It was an enriching experience to interact with the loveLife staff and peer educators, as known as, groundBreakers and Mpintshi’s.
The National GBV Command Centre is an initiative of the Department of Social Development (DSD) with support from Vodacom as a model of ‘goverments’ innovative response to GBV. After the welcome and introductions, the National GBV Command Centre Manager, Ms. Nomathemba Malvern, gave a comprehensive overview of the Command Centre and provided a brief on key service statistics and achievements. Vodacom, in partnership with the DSD, invested R4.2 million in developing an integrated GBV call centre solution, by utilising and capacitating a 24-hour call centre which is dedicated to providing support and counselling to victims of gender-based violence. The centre is managed by government trained social workers who are trained as call centre agents, working in 3 shifts over 24 hours. The UNFPA delegation learnt that reported cases can be referred to social workers in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal to provide face-to-face support to victims. Field social workers are trained on the gender-based violence information system which is accessible from their mobile phones.Site visit to the National Gender- Based Violence (GBV) Command Centre: 11 November 2015
It is interesting to note that the National GBV Command Centre (GBVCC) has won numerous awards, most recently the Best Technology Innovation – Small Centre of the world at the Global Best Contact Centre Awards in USA on 5 November 2015. This adds to three other awards the GBVCC has won since its launch – the Innovation Award in the Contact Centre Management Group (CCMG) awards, the Changing Lives Award in the Africom Awards, as well as the Golden Award won in the Technological Innovation Awards in London. Thereafter the delegation toured of the Command Centre and interacted with social workers.