HLPF 2022: 5 milestone moments as Eritrea presents its first Voluntary National Review on the SDGs
The High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, (HLPF) first established in 2012 as an outcome from the Rio +20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, represents the main global platform to review and chart progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals and 2030 Agenda.
This year’s meeting kicks off today at UNHQ in New York, under the theme of Building back better from COVID-19 while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
As part of its follow-up and review mechanisms, the HLPF encourages Member States to conduct regular national reviews of their progress towards implementing the 2030 Agenda and present these findings during the three-day ministerial segment of the forum. These national reviews are undertaken on a voluntary basis and include both developed and developing countries. The aim of the Voluntary National Review is to encourage Member States to share their experiences – including successes, challenges and lessons learned in progress towards implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable development.
Eritrea is one of the eight countries which will be presenting its VNR at the forum for the first time.
As Eritrea prepares to share the progress it has made in implementing the SDGs over the past year, we look back at how the UN country team in Eritrea has worked in partnership with the government to support these efforts and serve the needs of local communities over the last 12 months.
Here are 5 key contributions the UN country team in Eritrea, under the leadership of the UN Resident Coordinator Amakobe Sande, have made in advancing economic, social and environmental progress.
1. Investing in clean energy and climate adaptation
Climate change continues to pose wide-ranging challenges to food and nutrition security, water supply, public health, and wildlife across Eritrea. The UN has worked with national authorities to scale up mitigation and adaption measures, including an ambitious government-led tree planting and soil conservation programmes known as ‘terracing.’
On the energy front, the UN’s investment in clean energy benefitted 7,000 households in 33 villages, contributing to quality social services and livelihoods diversification for 45,300 inhabitants.
2. Increased access to sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene
Improving access to safe drinking water has been a key priority for the UN in Eritrea, particularly in rural areas. Increasing access to water sources via public taps and safer public wells has been an important part of this.
Specifically, the UN has supported the rehabilitation, upgrading and new construction of eight community water supply systems, including 5 climate-resilient rural water supply systems in four 'Zobas' (regions) in 2021.
This resulted in over 10,000 people gaining access to safe drinking water.
3. Reducing poverty and hunger
Working together with the government, the UN country team has made significant progress in reducing poverty and strengthening food security in Eritrea, with a special focus on cash transfers to mitigate against COVID-19 and other shocks.
To enhance food and nutrition security the UN country team provided capacity-building support to the Ministry of Agriculture and worked directly with 5,000 smallholder farmers to help improve post-grain handling.
The UN also contributed to strengthened resilience against COVID-19 through income generating activities targeting poor and vulnerable people including women headed households.
4. Strengthening health systems
The UN’s support to strengthen health systems has provided 1.7 million women and children from hard-to-reach communities better access to health and nutrition services. The UN’s partnership with the government helped expand coverage of other lifesaving health and nutrition interventions including the treatment of pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, and acute malnutrition.
Treatment for TB, diabetes, hypertension and other chronic diseases is now freely accessible to everyone in Eritrea. Access to primary healthcare for vaccine preventable diseases is now at over 95 percent. Significant strides have also been taken towards the long term goal of eliminating TB, malaria and HIV/AIDS within the next ten years.
As the effects of the pandemic continue to play out, the UN team has helped the government mobilize $8.7 million from the Global Fund to support its COVID-19 response.
5. Investing in SDG 4: Quality Education
Significant progress has been made in improving the quality and access to education in Eritrea, particularly in primary education. Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, the UN country team and government have focused efforts on ensuring that children in vulnerable communities, including refugees have access to inclusive, equitable and quality early learning and basic education.
After 12 months of closures due to COVID-19, the Ministry of Education reopened schools last year, enabling the re-enrollment of over 670,000 children. With continued partnership with the UN in this area, the Government has also made significant progress in improving minimum learning achievement scores – a measure which shows the overall performance of students.
The full programme for the 2022 HLPF can be found here, and the Voluntary National Reviews, here.
This piece was prepared by the UN Development Coordination Office (DCO). To learn more about what the UN is doing in Eritrea, visit: Eritrea.UN.org.
For more information on the results of our work in this area and beyond, read the SDG section of the 2022 UNSDG Chair Report on DCO.