Mixed progress in SADC development plan
There has been varying progress in the implementation of the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) over the period 2020-2022, with more work to be done.
The consultant, Dr Manasa Dzirikure, made the observation when he made an assessment at the start of a regional hybrid dialogue on the implementation of the SADC RISDP 2020-2030, which kicked off in Johannesburg, South Africa on Tuesday. .
Its assessment focused on five result areas in terms of quantifiable delivery of planned activities in the health and agriculture sectors, and the cross-cutting issues of climate change and actions in favor of women and youth.
He said progress was exemplified by an 85% implementation of regional activities planned by the SADC Secretariat in 2020/2021, against a low budget utilization rate of 58%.
Dr Dzirikure noted that unexpected savings had come from adopting a hybrid meeting and tracking implementation – an innovation that grew out of adapting to Covid-19-related work and travel restrictions.
He said Non-State Actors (NSAs) have a role to play in informing, monitoring and facilitating the implementation of the RISDP 2020-2030, as part of their mandate enshrined in the SADC Treaty. , and in line with the endorsement by the SADC Council of Ministers of the Regional NSA Engagement Mechanism, in August 2022.
“Recognizing this, the Partnership for Social Accountability (PSA) Alliance has commissioned this rapid review and analysis on the implementation of the RISDP 2020-2030,” he said.
He said the review informs a regional dialogue coordinated by regional NSAs on the importance of socially responsible management of public resources in SADC development, with particular emphasis on the health and education sectors. agriculture, as well as cross-cutting climate change issues and support actions. women and young people. The review covered the period from April 2020 to March 2022 and was conducted between the 1st and 9th of that month.
It focused on regional indicators – as national plans had only just been developed by countries and their costs approved by the board in August 2022.
Dr. Dzirikure said that the implementation in the agricultural sector covered a large part of the 33 key performance indicators (KPIs) for 12 outputs under two outcomes, namely improvement of the agricultural productive sector and improvement and increased market access for agricultural products.
He noted that the SADC Secretariat had implemented the Regional Agricultural Policy (RAP) to improve production, productivity and competitiveness; improving regional and international trade and market access for agricultural products; and improving private and public sector engagement and investment in agricultural value chains, among others.
The review shows that in health and nutrition, progress has also been made for nine planned KPIs for 2020-2022 out of the 17 KPIs for 15 outputs for 2020-2030 under two key results.
Contributions to an “improved accessible and responsive health system” have strengthened health systems in Member States during and after Covid-19 periods, including strict movement controls, as well as full national or regional lockdowns, with profound effects on the region’s health systems.
They included securing funding from the African Development Bank for equipment support, developing and implementing guidelines for the movement of goods and services, strengthening monitoring and testing systems and customs clearance.
Dr. Dzirikure noted that climate change was highlighted across all sectors, with four key performance indicators out of a total of 10 priorities for 2020-2022 for four outputs under the two main results.
“The main achievements towards the result “Improved sectoral approaches for the development of resilience to climate change” have been achieved through the Integrated Development and Climate Change Adaptation Program in the Zambezi River covering Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe,” he said.
“Five research studies have been completed to generate knowledge on groundwater management challenges in Member States.”
Regarding women, gender and development, Dr. Dzirikure said that 32 ambitious KPIs were planned and implemented during the period 2020-2022 out of 36 KPIs for 15 outputs under three outcomes.
This achievement was made possible through the support of NSA partners and Member States to implement the SADC Gender Programme.
“Efforts towards the outcome “Improve the participation and representation of women in political, economic and public life to achieve gender parity” included the development of SADC guidelines on the development and implementation of national gender action plans to assist in the implementation of the SADC protocol on gender equality,” he explained. .
“Two million Euros have been secured from GIZ to support the implementation of the SADC Regional Multidimensional Women’s Economic Empowerment Program (RMD-WEEP) which aimed to increase women-owned enterprises and participation of value-added female entrepreneurs.”
Two key performance indicators (KPIs) have been planned for 2020-2022 out of seven KPIs for seven outputs for youth and empowerment under the result related to the participation and socio-economic development of qualified young people for 2020-2030 .
The review also noted areas of progress and challenges in implementing the RISDP’s strategic management priorities in the strategic areas of “Enhanced Institutional Effectiveness and Efficiency”.
Dr Dzirikure said: “Areas of progress included (approval of) the transformation of the SADC Parliamentary Forum into a SADC Parliament; the successful implementation of SADC trust funds such as on HIV; Board approval of the NSA engagement mechanism; Improved SADC Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting (SPMER); as well as increased use of virtual communication platforms.
Dr. Dzirikure said that although significant progress had been made, many challenges hindered the effective implementation of the RISDP. These include weak coordination and implementation of SADC programs at national level; reliance on International Cooperating Partner (ICP) funding for programs; rigid and lengthy procurement processes; poor communication and visibility of SADC programmes; and the low involvement of NSAs.
Drawing lessons, recommendations were made, including strengthening resource mobilization for sustainability; learn from local best practices; align the SADC Disaster Risk Management Strategy and Action Plan with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030; and make regular review and capacity building of SADC National Committees for effective coordination a standing item on the agenda of SADC Council and Summit.
The RISDP is a ten-year strategic plan that guides SADC’s regional integration agenda and encompasses national, regional and global arrangements that provide a mechanism to achieve the SADC Vision 2050, as adopted by the Summit in August 2020 .
The role of non-state actors (NSAs) and SADC citizens in the planning, implementation, monitoring and reporting on SADC policies and programs are enshrined in the SADC Treaty.
The consultant highlighted the challenges, lessons learned and opportunities realized.
He noted that Covid-19 had affected the operations of the program but had introduced unintended positive benefits by pushing the boundaries of innovation in the implementation of the RISDP 2020-2030 Implementation Plan.
“The persistence of the Covid-19 pandemic, along with natural disasters and climate change, remain major risks to achieving regional integration. On the positive side, the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed innovation in program implementation and service delivery amid disruptions such as the simplification of protocols for caring for acutely malnourished (wasting) children during Covid-19-induced restrictions,” observed Dr Dzirikure.
He noted that planning in the Covid-19 environment had demonstrated that flexibility was essential in the preparation of SADC’s Annual Corporate Plan (ACP), virtual and physical modes of implementation, which ensure not only business continuity, but also allow for budgetary savings.
“However, the participation of member states in regional programs depends on internet connectivity,” he noted.
He lamented the limited financial resources for the programs of the regional integration program and the weak capacity of Member States to implement priority regional interventions and report on progress, with programming focusing on areas that receive funding from the donors/international cooperating partners (ICPs).
“This situation results in member states and the secretariat focusing their efforts on donor priority areas, to the detriment of other programs of regional importance due to inadequate allocation of resources by governments,” he said. -he declares.
“On the other hand, the migration to virtual operations necessitated by Covid-19 has presented an opportunity to reduce program budgets as well as reallocate savings to priority interventions where there is no funding.”
Among the various recommendations, the SADC Secretariat and Member States were urged to document best practices in local funding and sustainability of projects while reducing reliance on ICH funding.