Strengthening strategic partnerships: UNFPA and KwaZulu Natal government at the annual programme review and planning meeting

4 November 2015

‘Working together to achieve common goals’ was the running theme in Durban when 35 representatives from key KwaZulu Natal (KZN) provincial departments, civil society organizations, service providers and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) met at the annual programme review and planning meeting on 3 – 4 November 2015. Government officials, civil society partners and UNFPA set aside 1 ½ days deliberating on programme activities to be implemented, reviewed and prioritized in 2016. These programme activities are in line with South Africa’s programme results framework and current provincial annual and strategic plans.

In his opening remarks, Mr Xaba, General Manager at the Department of Social Development (DSD) emphasized the importance of UNFPA being part of the partnership and how its support is significant in the province, particularly in the districts where work is being implemented. He mentioned 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. This was later re-enforced by Mr Mbalo, from DSD Provincial Population Unit, when he acknowledged UNFPA’s work in supporting programming that is responsive to the needs of segments of the population, namely adolescents, young people and women. During the discussions it was noted that the partnership between UNFPA, Office of the Premier and KZN provincial departments of Health, Education, Social Development and COGTA has created opportunities for the programmes that are currently being implemented in the province and for the effective integration with different government departments.

Sue le Roux, UNFPA Assistant Representative, reflected on the role of UNFPA in supporting government, “we exist to support government achieve its goals through providing technical assistance.” Participants mentioned that the session was useful in understanding the context within which support from UNFPA is delivered, as it aligns efforts alongside that of Government.

Data shows that some of South Africa’s poorest and most deprived districts are in KwaZulu-Natal. According to recent studies, the poverty rate of people living in these deprived districts is high, and ranges from 63% to 82% of households living on less than R800 per month in 2006. UNFPA supports work in 5 of these districts, namely uThukela, Ugu, Zululand, iLembe and Umkhanyakude. These districts presented detailed plans and priorities for achieving targets set for improving sexual and reproductive health (SRHR); and strengthening their use of data for improving performance through setting targets and monitoring. In addition to these presentations, progress on the provincial work plan was presented, and was followed by presentations on some of the key UNFPA-supported activities implemented in 2015.

For the planning component of the meeting, the group broke into three groups – uThukela, Ugu and iLembe, and Zululand and uMkhanyakude. Each group used the district plans presented the previous day to identify particular areas where UNFPA and other partners could provide targeted technical assistance.

An innovative proposed collaboration between UNFPA and loveLife in the roll-out of the iLovelife mobi app was presented to participants. Through innovation, the partnership seeks to strengthen the adolescent and youth programme and improve the quality of Adolescent and Youth Friendly Services (AYFS) in selected sub-districts in uThukela. This is a component of the Adolescent and Youth programme, but with a special focus on using innovative approaches to strengthen AYFS. As a pilot intervention, lessons will be used to inform programming in the other four districts.

In his closing remarks, Leonard Kamugisha, UNFPA Technical Specialist, thanked all, especially the implementing districts for the depth of details in their presentations. He further noted that the draft plans developed during the meeting will be shared widely and consolidated for presentation at the National Coordination Forum on 10-11 November 2015. It was also noted that the success of the programme has been due to partners working effectively together. Therefore there was a call to further strengthen the relationship, so that the delivery of priorities identified can meet the needs of those we serve.