Muraai Herman has worked in a number of projects supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in his native Cook Islands. His latest role is as a Project Officer for the Ridge to Reef Project, which aims to conserve biodiversity and enhance ecosystem functions in the Cook Islands.
He said the experience gained from previous projects has helped him tremendously in his current role. But taking time out for regular training also allows him to see the big picture again and reminds him of why his work matters in successful project delivery.
“As an officer of the Ridge to Reef (R2R) project, I need to fully understand the financial side. A lot of our work hinges on that understanding. That’s why it’s good to receive regular trainings like these as a lot can change over time, new things pop up and priorities shift,” said Mr Herman. “That’s why this workshop is a good reminder to ensure that we follow the process on both sides, nationally as well as with UNDP.”
Mr Herman is referring to the UNDP Project Management Workshop, held in Samoa from November 6th-8th 2019, where he joined about 40 other managers and staff from Project Management Units (PMUs) of UNDP-supported projects in the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa and Tokelau. The workshop aimed to clarify UNDP’s project management cycle, project design, implementation modalities, monitoring and evaluation, risk management, gender mainstreaming, work planning, budgeting and communications.
Another participant, Felicia Pihigia-Talagi, Director of the Project Management and Coordination Unit in Niue, said the workshop was timely and much needed.
“It was very useful. I got to learn what my colleagues are doing in their countries and how I can adapt their experiences for my country. At the same time, I got to share my story from Niue and how I can help them from Niue’s experience. It’s an awesome networking opportunity which builds relationships and help us work together towards a common goal,” said Ms Pihigia-Talagi.
Her sentiments were shared by Mika Perez, Director of the Department of Economic Development, Natural Resources and Environment for the Tokelau Government.
“The workshop was very useful to the work that I do in that it has enhanced my understanding of the different funds that UNDP manages on behalf of the donors. It was an opportunity to not only share the unique challenges faced by Tokelau in implementing projects, but it was also a time to share Tokelau’s successful and not-so-successful stories in terms of project management processes and procedures,” said Mr Perez.
There are currently 15 UNDP-supported projects spread out over the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa and Tokelau, and are worth about USD $100 million in total. These projects focus not only on environmental and climate change issues, but also on governance, gender, and poverty reduction.
The Youth Employment Programme in Samoa, or YEP, housed under the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development, aims to do the latter. Phase one of the project was completed in July, and is now in the initiation stage of phase two.
Mary Agnes Talafaaoi works for YEP, a project that helps school dropouts find employment through the provision of trainings in the areas of customer service and basic skills.
“At the workshop, we learnt valuable tips on how to focus on positive ways to keep pushing our projects, and making sure that they are realistic and can produce the intended results to benefit our communities. This success will also go back to our donors and will open up opportunities for future funding,” said Ms. Talafaaoi.
UNDP recognizes the need for project managers and staff to continue to develop their skills while working on and in projects.
“When working intensively in projects, we can get lost in the daily routine of running the projects. Workshops like these provide an avenue where we can reconvene to see the big picture once again and iron out what needs to be corrected so that we can continue to move forward more effectively and efficiently,” said Mr Jorn Sorensen, UNDP’s Resident Representative.
He also acknowledged the support of the Governments of the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa and Tokelau and also the close collaboration with the donor agencies such as the Global Environment Facility, the Adaptation Fund, the Green Climate Fund and DFAT, among others.
This is the second project management workshop to be run by the UNDP Samoa multi-country office, with the first one being held in 2016.
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UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. The UNDP Multi-Country Office in Samoai provides country and regional support to 4 countries in the Pacific, as part of the 177-country office UNDP network, and offers global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations.