The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Subregional Office for Southern Africa (SFS) with support from the Regional Office for Africa (RAF) and its Headquarters (HQ) in Italy, has embarked on strengthening technical capacities in managing OPIM modalities and ensure effective oversight and monitoring of the execution of vertical funds projects during their lifecycle. FAO vertical funds are trust funds which include the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and the Green Climate Fund (GCF).
More than 60 staff members from the subregion, RAF and HQ are meeting in Harare from 22 – 26 January 2024 for a hybrid Training of Trainers (ToT) workshop with the objective to strengthen the coordination and management of vertical funds projects in the subregion. The Subregional Office for Southern Africa is currently carrying FAO’s largest portfolio of GEF and GCF vertical funds projects in the Africa region.
“This workshop will enable us to develop an action plan for the subregion on management of vertical funds with clarity on key objectives and strategic positioning in alignment with the subregional priorities. In addition, the workshop will facilitate development of a plan to increase our technical and operational capacity; key performance indicators to monitor our performances, as well as a rules of engagement for transparency and accountability in management of vertical funds,” said Patrice Talla, FAO Subregional Coordinator for Southern Africa in his opening remarks of the workshop.
“The workshop will also provide the opportunity to reflect on challenges that have to be addressed while providing solutions to improve country offices’ understanding of OPIM modalities and responsibilities,” added Talla affirming the subregion’s renewed efforts and commitment in operationalizing and institutionalizing this process.
The workshop is aimed at building the capacity of FAO staff in country offices who are involved in the design, operationalization, and management of projects under OPIM modality. The staff will be responsible for following up and participating in project formulation, capacity assessments, preparation of the OPIM package, supporting preparation of operational partners agreements, financial and technical reports.
This process comes at a time when the demand placed on country project officers and staff to manage OPIM projects has increased aligning with FAO’s decentralization strategy to improve the effectiveness of the organization’s work at the country, subregional and regional levels. This mirrors the action of most main resource partners who have now decentralized large parts of their funding decisions to their country and regional offices.
The five-day workshop kicked-off with an overview of the current portfolio as well as a projection of where the subregion needs to be in the next five years in addressing Member States priorities. This included a deep dive into existing and innovative instruments of implementation in managing vertical funds. Round tables with country offices will promote sharing of best practices, including innovative approaches in addressing challenging situations.
During the training, participants will be introduced to OPIM workflow, best practices, selection of partners, preparation and submission of OPIM packages for approval, formulation of Operational Partners Agreements (OPAs) and their related annexes. The training involves both theoretical and practical sessions.
“The training is very useful in terms of selecting the type of operational modality and partners to work with. It helps us to respond and address the current challenges we face while enhancing smooth operationalization and implementation of the vertical funds such GEF and GCF projects,” said Jonathan Sawaya, Environment and Climate Change Specialist with FAO in Tanzania.
“Through this training, FAO SFS is rapidly increasing its capacity to operationalize such new partnership modalities with national partners. We expect such new approach to rapidly revolutionize the way FAO is operating in the co-execution of projects. Also, it is a strong signal to donors on the opportunities to work through FAO with a wide range of partners on the continent,” said Samy Gaiji from RAF.
Following this training, FAO staff from each trained country office will return to their capital. As trainer of trainers, their first mission will be to sensitize national partners on such new operational modality. We expect such national trainings to take place in the next few months and lead to a greater number of projects to be co-executed with and for our Member States.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of FAO Regional Office for Africa.