South Sudan is a new country with new possibilities. However, South Sudan is also faced with formidable challenges. The transition period towards building a new and responsive state is volatile, and the development challenges are huge. At least 80 per cent of the population live on less than $1 per day. South Sudan has one of the poorest health indicators in the world, including the highest maternal mortality ratio.
We commend the Government of South Sudan and UNFPA for having developed a country programme document aligned with national priorities and South Sudan’s National Development Plan. This is crucial for ensuring national ownership during the transition period and creates a good basis for sustainable development results in the long run. There is an urgent need for capacity development in South Sudan, and national ownership can only be ensured through broad-based capacity development in the government and among other major actors. We are therefore pleased to see a strong emphasize on capacity development in the country programme document.
Norway also appreciates that the UNFPA country programme is well aligned with the priorities set out in the UNDAF. This is a good starting point.
The government of South Sudan is strongly committed to gender equality and UNFPA plays an important role in supporting the government’s efforts. Norway is pleased to see this reflected in the country programme document, in the important areas of gender based-violence and gender-related reproductive health and rights.
In the implementation of the country programme, we would like to underline the importance of the following:
First, it is crucial follow up the joint priorities in UNDAF through tight coordination and collaboration with relevant UN agencies in the planning and implementation of UNFPA’s efforts in order to demonstrate quick results as well as in order to support the Government of South Sudan in its long-term state-building endeavours. With the tremendous challenges South Sudan is faced with, it is more crucial than ever than the UN “Delivers as One”. The country programme is not clear on this point but we are confident that UNFPA with its strong commitment to UN reform will contribute actively to UN coordination in the time ahead.
South Sudan is likely to be faced with humanitarian challenges for the duration of the country programme period. We will therefore underline the importance of good cooperation and coordination within the humanitarian cluster-system. In addition coordination with UNMISS will be equally important.
Secondly, South Sudan is faced with complex challenges as well as substantial uncertainties. It is therefore important that UNFPA finds flexible solutions adapted to local conditions.
Thirdly, in order to cope with the challenges ahead, a strong country office needs to be built up. We thus welcome the strengthening of the country office in South Sudan as proposed in the institutional budget for 2012 – 2013. However, we believe that also sufficient support and follow-up from headquarters and the regional office is important to succeed.
Fourthly, we would like to commend UNFPA for a relatively good results framework, with clearly defined goals, indicators and targets. However, baseline data is missing for some indicators. Baseline data must be established in order to monitor progress and report on results. Risk assessment and risk mitigation is crucial for achieving results anywhere and even more so in a challenging operating environment. The country programme document is weak on this point, and we urge UNFPA to place sufficient emphasis on risk assessment and mitigation during planning and implementation of the programme.
Finally a request for clarification of the funding of the programme. The planned use of core resources is rather limited but we understand that a substantial contribution will come from the Maternal Health Thematic Fund. We would appreciate information on the present funding gap, if any.
Thank you, President.