UNDP’s 50th anniversary celebrated in Anseba, Eritrea

May 9, 2016

Photo: ©UNDPEritrea/Sayenju

It was a ground-breaking celebration in Anseba, one of the six regions of Eritrea as the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) Eritrea commemorated the organization’s 50th Anniversary. The two day event was planned in partnership with Zoba Anseba, the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and the Ministry of Land, Water and Environment (MoLWE) and held on the 5th and 6th of May 2016.

The event highlighted partnerships for development.  In attendance were Government officials, representatives from the diplomatic missions in Eritrea (China, United Kingdom, Japan, USA and the European Union), media, representatives from the National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students (NUEYS), Habero community and UN officials.

The two day event included field visits to some of UNDP projects in Anseba, one of the six regions of Eritrea. The field visit was an opportunity to showcase UNDP in action through project sites tours and engagement with communities in Anseba region. One of the projects, the ‘Youth employment skills project’ is a nationwide project that has been empowering youth by equipping them with skills for work. The visit included a tour of the metal workshop, the wood workshop, display of finished products such as furniture (cupboards and tables) from the woodwork trainees; house fittings (doors and windows) from the metalwork trainees;  and furnishings (flower pots and water jars) from the pottery class. Graduate trainees also gave personal testimonies on how the training has changed their lives. The project is implemented by NUEYS and it’s supported by the Governments of Norway and Japan.

On the same day, guests visited Hamelmalo sub-region, one of the two sub-regions where the “Climate change adaptation programme in water and agriculture in Anseba region” is implemented. A water dam was constructed in Gebsi village and provides water for small scale irrigation projects. Every household also gets a cow, 25 chicken and 2 beehives.

In the evening, the day culminated to a colourful ceremony at the Sarina Hotel in Keren. The ceremony focused on UNDP’s achievements for the last 50 years. A video, 50 years of sustainable development, showing UNDP’s evolutionary journey was screened. In line with the UNDP at 50 slogan; “forward looking” a video, connecting the dots for people & planet was screened, highlighting UNDP’s role in spearheading the 2030 development agenda. Welcome remarks were made by Anseba Region Governor, Mr. Ali Mahmud.  On development initiatives in the country, Hon. Mahmud said that since independence, the Government has worked with people and communities to improve their living conditions and boost food security.

While presenting her speech, the UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Ms. Christine N. Umutoni focused on UNDP achievements in Eritrea. She thanked the people of Anseba and Eritreans in general for the ownership of the projects the region. They are good stewards of UNDP resources, which is a great incentive for the organization’s partners.  “Sometimes we give them money for constructing one micro dam and they construct three micro dams.” Said Ms. Umutoni.

One of the guests, the British Ambassador to Eritrea, H.E. Mr. David Ward said that he had witnessed how the communities were dealing with the challenges of climate change  and how young people were tackling unemployment issues. “We have seen examples of true resilience and I am already impressed and I know that we are just half way through the visit.” He said. “I want to thank UNDP for organizing this event as well as congratulate the organization on the occasion of their 50th anniversary. UNDP has shown for over 50 years how we, who work for Governments around the world can achieve results if we work together to promote the prosperity and security of all people in the world. We have seen how we can work together in Eritrea and hope that the projects that we have seen today and those that we will see tomorrow will inspire more of similar nature.” He added.

On the 6th of May, participants visited the “Climate change adaptation programme in water and agriculture” in Habero sub- region, which is located 58 kilometres away from Keren town. The project is supported by Adaptation Fund (AF) and implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture, Anseba region. The community benefits from a Minimum Integrated Agricultural Package (MIAP) that includes:

•    Construction of water harvesting facilities along River Anseba: Water diversion structures, water harvesting tanks, reservoirs  and piping structures for irrigation;
•    Undertaking soil erosion control measures (afforestation, hillside terracing and building check-dams);
•    Integration of irrigation and climate-smart agricultural production technologies such as use of solar powered irrigation;
•    Provision of drought-resistant and early maturing crops like sorghum and millet, fruit trees, forage and animal feeds. Research is supported by Hamelmalo Agricultural College;
•    Provision of livelihood support systems (households received one dairy cow, 25 chicken and 2 beehives), and participation in rangeland management systems;
•    Development of a community-based early warning system to reduce climate risks and;
•    Strengthening of agricultural extension services.
Celebrations kicked off with a ceremony at Aretey. The guests were welcomed by the administrator of Habero sub- region, Ms. Aisha Mohammed. On this occasion, Eritrea Minister for Agriculture, Hon. Arefaine Berhe commended the achievements of the climate change adaptation projects. “This community not only had food security issues but nutrition as well. The project has boosted livelihoods through the MIAP.” He said.  His counterpart, Minister for Land, Water and Environment, Hon. Tesfai Gebreselassie highlighted the fact that the climate change adaptation project has addressed the social, economic and environment aspects of development in the region.

UNDP also partnered with the Ministry of Agriculture to commemorate the National Greening Day, which is observed on the 15th of May in Habero. It was led by Hon. Arefaine Berhe, Minister of Agriculture and guests and community members planted trees in observation of the greening day. To the surprise of many, guests were welcome by the early onset of rains, a good sign for the tree planting initiative.  “Rain is a blessing, to sustain it, we have to plant trees.” Said Hon. Berhe.

To acknowledge existing partnership between UNDP and Anseba Region, Ms. Umutoni awarded gift certificates to community groups and the Anseba administration for their excellence and commitment to development work in the region.

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