Blue starfish on a coral reef with small fish swimming nearby

Dispatch from the United Nations Development Programme in Fiji: Shaza Ahmed’s third blog from the field

Photo credit: Shaza Ahmed’s friend

By Shaza Ahmed, MAGG

As I write this, I cannot help but reflect on how uncertain life is. My civil society counterpart passed away unexpectedly. He was a very knowledgeable activist in the field of disability rights. I only met with him a handful of times but he was essential to my project. He provided so much insight in a few short meetings about the context of voting rights for persons with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities in the Pacific. With this development among others, my team made the decision to cancel my working group for now. The project continues onwards but we are taking time to grieve and to reorganize. I gave my first presentation on the topic to an expert on voting rights for persons with intellectual disabilities to familiarize her with the legal context in the Pacific Island Countries (PICS). I will receive a training from her later in the month and we will strategize next steps. From this presentation I learned that perhaps my work needed to be simplified for the layman. Since I have been in the Global Governance program, the research can be “impenetrable” to non-academics. Accordingly, I have been working on visualizing my research so as to present it in a manner that is easy to digest for any audience.

Simultaneously, my work with M&E has picked up further. I am now part of an oversight team, where I am sifting through evaluation reports for the projects under the Pacific Office from 2022 and extracting any lessons learned. The purpose of this task is to identify patterns across the projects that will inform the content of a publication on lessons from programs across the Pacific. There are over 60 project evaluations, separated by file and country. The files are based on the three programming departments at UNDP including resilient sustainable development, effective governance, and inclusive growth. Resilient sustainable development has projects to do with the environment and climate action. For example, the climate securitization projects try to reduce the risk of rising sea levels through nature-based solutions like increasing coral reefs. Coral reefs protect coastlines by acting as a buffer for storms and floods. Effective governance projects focus on strengthening institutions and their capacities. The work I do for voting rights falls in this department under the Elections portfolio. Inclusive growth projects combat poverty and create opportunities for industries and communities. I have not begun the analysis but am intrigued to see whether there will be any consistencies or discrepancies in lessons across the three different files.

The oversight team is also supervising the development of a mobile application for third party monitoring. Monitoring is done by implementing partners, CSOs, and our office M&E unit to ensure that data is as accurate as possible. The app is supposed to make this process easier for outside monitors. I will be meeting with them to pilot the app and see if it is beneficial for their work. If it is, the app will be greenlit to be used by the departments with their relevant stakeholders.

These are the tasks I am currently working on and am thankful that they are quite diverse. I have the opportunity to experience some of the many roles at the organization. It is lovely that the teams are so nurturing of our interests. Thank you for reading the last part of my blog series and following along with my journey at this office and in Fiji.


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