The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Mano River Union (MRU) Secretariat have signed a cooperation agreement designed to collaborate in development initiatives. 

The agreement contained in a Memorandum of Understanding signed on Wednesday at the Radisson Blu Mammy Yoko Hotel in Freetown commit the UN development agency and MRU member countries to working closely at regional level on development initiatives.

UNDP Resident Representative in Sierra Leone, Dr. Sam Doe, said in his statement that the interdependency of the MRU countries compels the UN body to move development away from national focus to a regional one.

“This MOU is based on the core principles of the Sustainable Development Goals. Development must be universal. It means that there is no development if Sierra Leone is thriving and Liberia is not thriving, if Cote d’Ivoire is doing well and Guinea is not doing well. The interdependency of these countries imposes upon all of us

to see development across borders and to see development as a transnational and universal imperative and not as a state commitment,” Dr Doe said.

“That is why we say given the political, economic and social interdependency, that the way UNDP should begin to see development needs to be transnational,” he added.

Dr Doe said this is not the first time UNDP is signing an MoU with regional bodies, citing a similar one done with the Lake Chad Basin countries (Cameroon, Nigeria and Chad). He said similar commitments had been made with the Sahel region.

“Thinking regional and thinking sub regional is a pathway to sustainable development moving forward. So these are the commitments that have brought us to gather I asked that we work towards our five stated development plans in the MOU,” he said.

Secretary General of the Mano River Union, Medina Wesseh, noted during the signing ceremony that the Union plans to work with UNDP in all four countries to impact the lives of its citizens.

“We have made pledges as we commit ourselves to ensuring that peace and stability, our niche and our core value principle, and we will from our side work with you as the development arm of the United Nations system in and around the world and particularly in our four countries, to ensure that we impact the lives of our people and ensure that development and security and all of the regional and global concerns will be address,” she said.

Sinul Saigal, United Nations Resident Coordinator, urged the two parties that they must not forget about what they all could do together to improve the lives of the people.

“It is the result that we produce to support the people, communities that will show the success of all of our actions. As we have heard in the reading of the MOU, it is very much people centered and it strengthens the institutions in order to improve the lives of the people for the successful implementation of the project. And we look forward to extending it to the rest of the United Nations Programmes,” Mr Saigal said.

The MRU and the UN agency are expected to engage and develop an action plan based on key areas in the MoU.

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