The SADC Deputy Executive Secretary for Regional Integration, Dr. Thembinkosi Mhlongo met with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Country Representative to Botswana and SADC, Ms. Julianna Lindsey at the SADC Secretariat head office in Gaborone Botswana on the 7th of November 2017.
The objective of the meeting was to review and strengthen support by UNICEF to the SADC Secretariat through effective and sustainable collaboration. The areas of collaboration between the two parties have gained momentum since the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding. The meeting also discussed areas of focus under the current agreement, which include a more elaborate and encompassing manner.
Ms. Lindsey commended SADC for the leadership role and facilitation of UNICEF’s participation at the initial Regional Inter-Agency Standing Committee (RIASCO) inception meeting to discuss the road map on resilience strategy development. Ms. Lindsey highlighted that UNICEF was reviewing its position to supporting the resilience strategy development and commended SADC for the good work undertaken in the area of nutrition and health which should constitute the basis of continued technical support.
Dr. Thembinkosi Mhlongo commended UNICEF for its technical support and wider development contributions to the Region towards the advancement of the citizens. He particularly appreciated UNICEF for having deployed a Nutrition expert to the SADC Secretariat on secondment and indicated that the incumbent is undertaking critical assignments supporting the development of capacities in the Member States. Dr Mhlongo further added that SADC was in the process of setting up an ICP thematic group on Resilience as part of strengthening SADC/ International Cooperating Partners (ICPs) coordination and that UNICEF will be invited to form part of the group.
The SADC region is currently having a strong focus in addressing malnutrition and in this regard it is considering sustainable options on how to manage food fortification through development of a private sector engagement strategy which will be critical in the mapping of potential stakeholders.
The two also discussed the need to ensure that UNICEF support to SADC Secretariat is sustainable by ensuring that there were clearly defined timeline and strategies. As part of way forward the need for SADC Secretariat to also initiate the establishment and operationalization of the HIV and AIDS ICP thematic coordination mechanism was discussed, and UNICEF expressed interest to be part of the proposed mechanism.