Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Hiroyuki Konuma

FAO Regional Representative for Asia-Pacific

OPENING ADDRESS

by

Hiroyuki Konuma
Co-Chair of the Programme Advisory Board and
Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

delivered at the

Second Programme Advisory Board Meeting on the United Nations Joint Programme on
Integrated Highland Livelihood Development in Mae Hong Son

Bangkok, Thailand
8 May 2012

 

Mr Pranai Suwanrath, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior
Dr Jaranthada Karnasutra, Advisor to His Majesty the King’s Principle Private Secretary’s Office
Ms Narumol Paravat, Governor of Mae Hong Son
Programme Advisory Board Members
Distinguished participants
UN colleagues
Ladies and gentlemen

As the Co-Chair of the Programme Advisory Board (PAB) and the Representative of the Lead Organization of the United Nations Joint Programme on Integrated Highland Livelihood Development in Mae Hong Son, I have great pleasure in welcoming you all today to the Second PAB Meeting at the Ministry of Interior.

First of all, I would like to recall that we vowed to achieve the human security goals of “protection”, “empowerment”, and “poverty reduction” in Mae Hong Son at the Preamble Signing Ceremony held in 2010 which was attended by the then Governor of Mae Hong Son and the representatives of the ten UN agencies. Since then, with an array of challenges which have hindered our concerted efforts, the tasks assigned to us have become more daunting than initially envisaged two years ago.

Yet, despite the constraints, the Programme has been able to produce a number of concrete outputs, and the benefits of the assistance have also tricked down from target groups to the rest of the communities concerned. We have seen trained community health volunteers providing primary healthcare services to villagers in remote locations where they were compelled to travel for hours to reach the closest health center until the health volunteers were deployed. Other remote villages now have access to biogas energy for cooking and to the electricity generated by environmentally friendly equipment such as solar panel electricity systems. Upland rice production in target communities has improved with enhanced yields, and the activity will be replicated in other villages this year. Synergies created by linking expertise of key enablers and partners have also become visible, as evidenced by the improved nutritional status of school children, thanks to the good collaboration between the education, health, agriculture and livestock sectors.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Joint Programme has reached a critical stage of implementation as the transition period commences following this PAB meeting. The Programme Management Unit functions will be gradually transferred to the Mae Hong Son Government from mid-May to October prior to a full handover of the Programme to the Government in January 2013. During the transition period, all the UN staff, government officials and implementing partners concerned are requested to collaborate more closely than ever so that the goals of the Joint Programme can be attained within the remaining timeframe.

Today we are charged with not only reviewing the progress, including the result of the Internal Mid-Term Review, but also discussing exit strategies as well as a handover plan to ensure the sustainability of the Programme and to explore opportunities to scale up the Mae Hong Son model to national policies and strategies.

I trust that we all are called on to orchestrate our commitments, resources and the working together spirit to improve the imperative situation of Mae Hong Son, which is one of the least developed and poorest provinces in Thailand, and to demonstrate what we can truly achieve when our knowledge, expertise and efforts are concerted in a well harmonized and sustainable manner.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Before I conclude, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Mr Pranai, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Interior and the Co-Chair of the PAB, who is kindly hosting this important meeting at this critical stage of programme implementation. I should also like to thank Dr Jaranthada, Advisor to His Majesty the King’s Principle Private Secretary’s Office for his continued support to our concerted effort for the betterment of underserved people in Thailand, and Ms Narumol for her strong engagement in the Joint Programme since shortly after taking up her duties as the new Governor of Mae Hong Son early this year.

Last but not least, my special gratitude should be conveyed to the Government of Japan and to the OCHA for their generous financial support for the people in Mae Hong Son through the UN Trust Fund for Human Security, which has allowed us to succeed in the face of the daunting challenges in this remote province.

Thank you for your attention.