Dispatch from the United Nations Development Programme in Rwanda: Adwoa Konadu Yiadom’s Blog
By Adwoa Konadu Yiadom
Disclaimer: The views are those of the author's alone and do not represent the views of UNA-Canada.
Image 1: JPC Adwoa Konadu Yiadom at UNDP Rwanda
My ongoing internship with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Rwanda has offered a valuable bridge to the gap between academic knowledge and practical application. Initially, I perceived my role at the UNDP as unrelated to my academic pursuits. However, as time progressed, it became clear that my background in communication, journalism, and international public policy forms the foundation for navigating challenges, seizing learning opportunities, and engaging meaningfully.
At UNDP in Rwanda, I am deeply involved in resource mobilization, a pivotal aspect of sustainable development initiatives. Playing a crucial role, I contribute significantly to the UNDP's mission of fostering positive change. The intricate landscape of resource mobilization has not been an easy feat. Understanding the complexities of donor relations, aligning donors' interests with the organization and UNDP’s objectives in Rwanda, and balancing our priorities with the diverse needs of the Rwandan context have been crucial fundamental tasks I have undertaken. However, these challenges have become invaluable learning opportunities. They have enabled me to acquire new and unique skill sets, fostering resilience, strategic thinking, and honing negotiation skills indispensable in this domain. In my previous blog, I highlighted progress on developing comprehensive documents for four of the five governance programs managed by the Transformational Governance Unit (TGU) at UNDP; upon commencing my role, I put together a list of potential donors mapped out already. However, prospecting for new potential donors is an everyday activity, and I continually research and explore new avenues, leveraging my network, which includes connections within UNDP, other UN agencies, and beyond Rwanda. This outreach aims to connect with various donor organizations, seeking funding and partnership opportunities vital for UNDP's initiatives in Rwanda. Receiving a resounding "no" has become a norm. However, each "yes" I secure fills me with an indescribable joy, urging me to persist and fervently pursue new opportunities. To be honest, the week before I received my first positive response from a potential donor, I was downhearted and questioned whether I had made the right choice by accepting this role. Yet, I've come to realize that resilience is an inherent part of the learning curve. Everything changed the following Monday when I received that pivotal positive response. It was a moment of immense elation, affirming that my efforts were making headway. Later that day, my supervisor called, mentioning an email I had received – a second affirmative response within the same day. This organization expressed interest in a meeting to explore how they, in collaboration with UNDP in Rwanda, could shape their five-year engagement in the region. I promptly replied, and our inaugural meeting proved to be a success. Then, I kept on receiving one positive response to another from potential donors I had reached out to.
Image 2: Reconstruction of the King of Rwanda's palace at Nyanza in Rukari Ancient History Museum, Rwanda
I had the privilege of representing UNDP at two significant events outside Kigali. The first was the UN Joint Team on AIDS (UNJTA) retreat in Musanze-Rwanda, held from November 6th to 9th, 2023. The UNJTA serves as the technical backbone of One UN Rwanda's effort to combat HIV and AIDS. It coordinates technical and financial aid for an inclusive response involving the Government of Rwanda, civil society, and partners based on evidence.
The retreat convened UN staff dedicated to HIV/AIDS across the UN system, including UNAIDS cosponsors like UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, and WHO, along with other agencies present in the country. It aimed to strategize the Joint UN support for Rwanda's national program in 2024, culminating in fruitful discussions and actionable outcomes, assigning responsibilities to various UN agencies in Rwanda.
Image 3: A lady in Rwanda
I also participated in a Policy strategic dialogue on bolstering accountability for gender equality (GE) and combating Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in Rwanda. The objective was to enhance advocacy, coordination, and collaboration among diverse stakeholders in this crucial realm. It was a strategic alliance within and beyond the UN network to collectively champion gender equality, women's empowerment, and GBV prevention and response.
These experiences have been instrumental in broadening my insights into multifaceted global issues, facilitating active participation in pivotal discussions. Despite the challenges, volunteering with UNDP in Rwanda has proven immensely rewarding. Each day offers a chance to grasp the intricacies of international development, refine analytical prowess, and master effective cross-cultural communication.
Image 4: JPC Adwoa Konadu Yiadom
Engaging in high-stakes negotiations and collaborating with colleagues from diverse continents has instilled in me a global perspective, deepening my understanding of interconnected global challenges. I am continuously exploring the dynamics of teamwork, cultural sensitivity, and the transformative power of diverse perspectives to drive innovative solutions.
Looking forward to what the remaining months hold!