The Human Development Report (HDR) an annual flagship report of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), measures progress of human development across the globe.
At the country level, UNDP supports the development of the National HDR on a topical issue/theme to generate evidence for informed policy choices and strategies to achieve sustainable human development.
As part of the process to develop the 2018 NHDR, UNDP in Malawi organised a stakeholders’ consultative session on 10th July 2018, to gain consensus and insight on the key developmental issues that the 2018 report will focus on.
The consultative session which had representation from the private sector, academia, civil society and government agencies and departments, emphasised on the importance of inclusive participation at all levels to ensure that there is national ownership and buy in, in addressing developmental challenges in the spirit of Leaving no one behind.
In his opening remarks, the Chairperson for the National Planning Commission in Malawi, Professor Richard Mkandawire appreciated the importance of the consultative session and the need to fully involve district councils and other local structures in the entire process of generating the National Human Development Report. He emphasised on the need to strengthen local capacities and engagement with the communities, the ultimate beneficiaries of development, including through better communication.
Mkandawire further said it was vital to ensure that documented successes, gaps and progress in districts are put in the public domain as a strategy that would encourage specific actions to ensure that the districts move forward in their development priorities.
UNDP’s Economic Advisor, Ms. Alka Bhatia made a presentation on the link between Human Development Reports and Sustainable Development Goals, and how HDRs help contribute and strengthen policy options in achieving SDGs by providing options and recommendation of developmental solutions based on concrete analysis and data.
“This stakeholders’ Consultation Session on the NHDR, where we have a cross section of representation from different sectors, is imperative to help ensure that we select and develop national themes that are vital, strategic and timely, in terms of addressing pressing and current national development needs,” said Ms. Bhatia.
To kick-start the discussions on possible key areas for the 2018 NHDR, UNDP Economics Specialist-Patrick Kamwendo presented on three suggested themes namely; (Theme 1) The population and Environment, Natural Resources; (Theme 2) Energy Industrial and Tourism Development; (Theme 3) Accountable Institutions.
He highlighted on the need to think outside the box in coming up with the policy solutions and to move away from ‘business as usual’ approaches.
Recommendations and issues from the stakeholders that arose during the session’s deliberations pointed out on the need to go back to previous developmental reports and closely analyse recommended key actions to ensure that Malawi moves from being one of the countries at the lower end of the Human Development Index.
The need for more bottom-up approaches was also recommended to ensure that development policies are indeed implemented to avoid a disconnect between macrolevel policy formulation and implementation at the grassroots. An equally pressing issue that was also noted was the timing for developing and dissemination of the 2018 NHDR, as the country prepares for the 2019 Tripartite Elections, which could provide both an opportunity and a threat, in getting the report into the national development agenda as a priority.
Following the comprehensive discussions and insightful contributions from the participants, a consensus was reached on the 2018 National Human Development Report theme to centre on promoting sustainable human development and institutional accountability through a district-focused approach.