Three people wearing UNICEF vests looking at apartment dwellings

Dispatch from UN Habitat in Kenya: Harry Deng’s third blog from the virtual field

Photo credit: UN-Habitat Lebanon

By Harry Deng, MAGG

Not much has changed since my last blog post. I am still working on the Human Rights and Social Inclusion (HRSI) Unit’s strategic plan, as part of the unit’s resource mobilization strategy, and I am still working on the Youth 2030 Cities project.

Regarding the HRSI strategic plan, the sections that I am responsible for (gap-planning analysis and risk analysis) are almost completed – there are still a few remaining questions that need to be answered, but I probably won’t receive answers until after the Christmas break. However, the HRSI resource mobilization team will be presenting the first draft of the strategic plan to the unit director. In this presentation, we will outline what each section is, its purpose/importance, its logic, the research and interviews we conducted, and how we came to the conclusions.

The gap planning analysis is used to determine the disparities between the current systems and performance and where the unit expects to be in the future. This method illuminates areas for improvement by assisting the unit in determining where the unit is falling short of expectations, and what measures can be taken, or already have taken, to address these shortcomings. It ultimately boils down to three key questions: 1) Where we are now? 2) Where do we wish to be? 3) How are we going to bridge the gap? And what actions have we taken, if any? In my opinion, one of the most important gaps that must address is the tendency for the different workstreams within the unit as well as different units within the organization to work independently and disparately from one another. This tendency greatly reduces the ability of unit to impact UN-Habitat programming and limits the amount of resources we are able to expend. However, the unit have already taken steps to address this gap, such as developing strategic partnerships with UN-Habitat flagship programs. Nevertheless, more collaborations will need to be explored.

The risk analysis is a tried-and-true method of identifying and analyzing issues that might jeopardize the success of a project/program. It enables us to analyze the risks that UN-Habitat or the HRSI unit may encounter, and it assists us in deciding whether or not to proceed with the project/program. This is often accomplished by identifying threats/risks and estimating the chance of those risks materializing. We conducted our risk analysis by first identifying potential risks to UN-Habitat and HRSI, then estimated the severity and probability of the risk should they materialize, and lastly, we explored whether there are controls in place to combat this or if there weren’t then what should be established. We sectioned off the risk analysis by looking at financial, operational, technical, political, and stakeholder risks. Some of the risk we identified include project cost overruns, country-specific legal challenges, poor service delivery, data breaches, integration risk, adverse media or public attention resulting in damage to the reputation of UN-Habitat, and transferring risk to local partners (NGOs, civil society, local governments, etc.).

Lastly, I have also continued my work on the Youth 2030 Cities project (the name has been updated since the last blog post; previously known as Youth 2030). Since the last blog post, we have completed our country-mapping research of youth-led urban sustainability initiatives in our focus countries (Senegal, Ghana, Colombia, Ecuador, Vietnam, and India). I was also tasked with leading the development of the project’s communications/social media strategy, which involved researching trends in social media platform usage, gender and age variances, key youth development issues, recent trends in youth development, and political issues in each country. The last point is key because we have no room for errors in our communications – any error leading to outrage or political strains among our development partners or governments could have serious consequences for our unit.

While the work can definitely be stressful at times, I am enjoying the work. The reminder that the work I am doing does help contribute to something bigger is definitely a big motivator. Nevertheless, with the Christmas break coming up, I am also looking forward to winding down a bit before picking things back up in the new year. P.S. look out for the #youth2030cities hashtag!

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