Open letter to the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Coordinator for Kenya, Siddharth Chatterjee

The Frontier Counties Development Council secretariat, Chairman of the FCDC, HE Governor Ali Roba and County Governors of Tana River, Lamu, Mandera, Marsabit, Isiolo, Turkana, Wajir and Garissa, express gratitude to Mr. Siddharth Chatterjee, the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative for Kenya, for his leadership, energy and commitment to Kenya’s North Eastern Counties. The UN Kenya country team has demonstrated in action and words the principle of leaving no one behind and reaching the furthest behind first; as counties historically maginalised the ushers a new dawn of development.

The recent high-level delegation to the seven Frontier Counties that brought together senior National Government officials, Ambassadors and development partners, UN agencies, the World Bank and NGOs organized by UNDP in collaboration with FCDC secretariat was the first of its kind; given the logistics and security challenges of the region. The FCDC counties, are pleased with the visit itself and the outcome, it’s without a doubt that the delegation saw and experienced for themselves the warmth and ingenuity of our people as well as the desire to change the narrative of this region.

Back in 2014 when you came to Kenya as the Representative of UNFPA, you made UNFPA visible in these counties through your sheer drive, determination and courage to reduce the high burden of maternal mortality. These counties then accounted for 50% of Kenya’s maternal deaths but with interventions such as those received through UNFPA, maternal and child mortality has dropped significantly. Mr. Chatterjee, you have been a bold champion on women’s rights and the end of harmful traditional practices that hold us back as a society, your undimmed voice on these issues has significantly amplified what needs to be done to ensure our women and girls have equitable rights to development and well being.

UN’s dedication and belief in the transformation of these traditionally marginalized counties under your leadership as the UN Resident Coordinator is paying off. It is our belief that during the three-day visit, all partners present were able to witness first-hand the impact of the UN support and interventions on communities as a result of innovative ideas and partnerships. As members of these far-flung counties, never would we have thought that the private sector would take a keen interest in partnering with us, evidently things are shifting and the UN -Philips Community Life Center in Mandera is a symbol of how public private partnerships can transform lives. Who would have imagined that we would experience the impact of the presence of companies like Merck, Huawei, Safaricom etc in our counties? We are grateful that these companies are part of the SDG 3 platform in Kenya.

The maiden FCDC visit by the large delegation of development partners and UN agencies to our counties signifies what the you have firmly stood by as expressed in your 2014 article: We cannot abandon Kenya’s Mandera County as medics flee Islamist attacks.

The FCDC is deeply grateful to you and the entire UN country team in Kenya for the efforts made since 2016 to respond to the drought situation in the Northern counties. The impact of the prolonged lack of rains has been devastating, had it not been for the partnership and the leadership of the National Government, the County authorities and the UN family together with our development partners, the situation would have been far worse.

The Kenya Ethiopia cross border programme is something that all of us at the FCDC secretariat see as a model of peace, development, security and social transformation in the region. Without yourpersonal commitment, there would have been no tangible progress on this front. We hope to see more implemented under this programmeand its expansion to other frontier counties so that we can include, Somalia, South Sudan and Uganda (Karamoja area).

This note therefore is an expression of our deepest appreciation for all the efforts your office and the UN country teamis making publicly and privately to improve the lives of the people of the Frontier Counties. If I may rightly quote the you, “development is our best weapon to prevent violent extremism,” a challenge all our counties face.

As FCDC, we want to make President Kenyatta’s Vision of the Big 4 a priority for the frontier counties and we look forward to your support in actualizing this vision.

We commend the UN country team and youfor the concerted efforts to make all the Frontier counties a model of UN, National and County Governments “delivering as one”.

Mohamed Guleid
Chairman FCDC Secretariat

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