UNDP in the Kingdom of Bahrain
The UNDP has been a partner and friend of the Kingdom of Bahrain and its people since 1971 when it supported the independence of Bahrain. Since the opening of its offices and the signing of the Basic Agreement Document between the government and UNDP in 1978, UNDP has promoted and implemented sustainable human development strategies and programmes based on national priorities in line with the Kingdom’s reform agenda, the Economic Vision 2030 and the National Development Strategy (2015-2018).
The Kingdom of Bahrain is a Net Contributor Country (NCC), and as such bears the cost of UNDP’s presence and work in the country. UNDP recognises that the Government of Bahrain is primarily responsible for the national development agenda. The current Country Programme Document (2017-2020), and Project Documents were designed in partnership with state institutions, responding to deliver on key priority areas.
Bahrain demonstrates a strong commitment to human development and is signatory to a number of UN conventions, demonstrating the Kingdom’s commitment to international norms and UN principles.
Through comprehensive consultations and dialogue with government institutions, development needs are identified and strong partnerships are built to address those needs and meet SDG targets. Whether through developing human capacities at these institutions, or partnering to resolve a challenge, national ownership and leadership in all efforts is a key principle. UNDP also provides individual and institutional capacity development where needed, positioning national institutions to be in the leadership role.
How we work and what we want to accomplish
Bahrain’s Country Programme Document (CPD) 2017-2020 was approved by the UNDP Executive Board in November 2016, and follows the priorities outlined in the Kingdom’s Government Programme of Action (2015-2018), Economic Vision 2030 and the National Development Strategy (2015-2018), and builds on progress made to date in its aspiration to realize the SDGs. UNDP works in coordination with the UN Country Team and the UN Resident Coordinator.
Within this CPD, UNDP Bahrain’s areas of programmatic support are strengthening institutional systems and capacities for development, formulating sound and inclusive development policies addressing the socio-economic needs of the population, the advancement of Bahraini women, strengthening democratic governance, promoting the sustainable use of energy and resources and environmental management, and public-private sector partnerships.
The guiding principles for UNDP operations are national ownership and leadership, inclusive approaches, widening opportunities and building reliance. UNDP works closely with sister UN agencies in Bahrain and the region, and promotes harmonization and alignment between our programmes.
What are our results?
Practical work has been conducted in support of key national strategies including those on Childhood, Persons with Disabilities, National Education, Social Development, Youth, Environment, and HIV/AIDs strategies. Key national institutions including the Parliament, the Shura Council, Bahrain Institute for Political Development, the Bahrain Institute for Public Administration, the Supreme Council for Women, Ministry of Social Development, Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Civil Aviation Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Prime Minister’s Court, have received technical and capacity development support.
Significant joint projects implemented in the Kingdom include the empowerment of women, supporting the Bahrain Institute for Political Development, providing microfinance services to needy citizens, support to the creation of an Arab Centre for eContent Development, developing capacities in public policy, provision of support in globalization and trade, national results based planning and evaluation, addressing blood and hereditary diseases, protection of historical building and sites and other projects.
In terms of governance, the Kingdom of Bahrain developed an e-Government Strategy, which aims to deliver “customer value through collaborative government” by treating recipients of government services as customers with unique needs and requirements. UNDP and UNDESA have jointly partnered to support the eGovernment Authority in this endeavor.
The e-Government Strategy strengthens support to citizens, businesses and government entities through its eGovernment portal. The Strategy assists the Government of Bahrain instill best practices within the public sector through the creation of the “Arab Centre for eContent Development” (e-centre) as well as to meet the needs for a knowledge based society in Bahrain. UNDP supports the development of the Arab Centre for eContent Development in close cooperation with the eGovernment Authority of Bahrain.
Given the focus on developing institutions of governance and public administration, Phase II of the “Improve the Institutional Capacity of the Parliament in Bahrain” project addresses strengthening of capacities and functions of the General-Secretariat for both chambers (Shura and Nuwab) of Parliament in the areas of strategic planning, improved Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and new approaches to parliamentary research. UNDP also supported Bahrain Institute for Political Development (BIPD) in the development of a new strategic plan. A parliamentary Gender Guide was developed and launched by UNDP and the Supreme Council of Women (SCW) to inform MPs on gender sensitive legislation.
UNDP has supported the Government in assessing capacities of key institutions working in social development with the aim of enhancing service delivery to vulnerable groups. UNDP efforts to develop capacities of national bodies involved in public sector development and training such as Bahrain Institute for Public Administration (BIPA) and e-Government Authority
UNDP and the Bahrain Institute for Public Administration (BIPA) have achieved most of the objectives of the project “Establishing e-Training System in Bahrain: Creating Knowledge Workers”. A Learning Management System (LMS) is now fully operational. The LMS enables BIPA to employ efficient and cost effective e-training modules. A Training Needs Analysis (TNA) exercise was also undertaken to gauge the extent of “training needs” for civil servants, the results of which feed into the development of a project on the establishment of a “Capacity Development Facility” in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
A comprehensive feasibility study on the possibility of establishing an e-Training Lab was also completed. The Lab would produce Arabic language e-training materials.
In the economic scope, in order to further attract international economic activity and support Bahrain’s participation in global decision-making, UNDP in close cooperation with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MoIC) initiated the “Enhancing Institutional Capacity for Global Economic Environment and Governance” programme. This programme enhances the institutional and technical capacities to improve the efficiency of the economic governance system, targeting MoIC as the primary stakeholder followed by the private sector and other line institutions.
Capacity building activities were completed in the areas of enhanced negotiation, application and implementation of various global trade agreements including WTO Doha Development Agenda (DDA), Free Trade Agreement (FTA), Trade Policy Review outcomes, WTO Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) agreement and institutionalizing of procedures under World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
UNDP and UNCDF support to the Micro-Start Project which developed into a microfinance initiative, has resulted in the introduction and implementation of micro finance industries in Bahrain. In addition to more than 4,500 direct beneficiaries of the Project, of which about 70% are women, the initiative has inspired the establishment of two micro-finance banks that became fully operational in 2010.
In joint cooperation between UNDP and UNODC as part of the “Multi-Sectoral Drug Control” project, training workshops were conducted for the Community Police and Drug Enforcement official in collaboration with Dubai Police. A capacity assessment survey was also carried out for customs officials resulting in drug interdiction training for 30 drug law enforcement officers.
With respect to the environment, a feasibility study on the establishment of an Energy Conservation and Planning Centre was conducted in cooperation with National Oil and Gas Authority (NOGA). The results will assist NOGA in studying the potential for Energy Conservation while forming a mandate and mission for the Centre. A concept paper was also developed on steps towards UNDP Bahrain’s intervention with regards to renewable and alternative energy in Bahrain
UNDP, in collaboration with the Public Commission for the Protection of Marine Resources, Environment and Wildlife (PCPMREW) has recently developed a programme which aims to ensure national partnership in environmental management, strengthen the institutional capacity of the Commission and address issues relating to climate change. This joint UNDP and UNEP work aims to implement the action plan of the National Environment Strategy.
UNDP and the Government of Bahrain have signed a regional water governance project that will assist Bahrain in integrated water management.
Within the framework of “Support to the Implementation of the National Strategy for the Advancement of Bahraini Women” Project, a comprehensive political empowerment plan (2010-2014) was developed in a participatory manner. Additionally, an awareness raising campaign encouraging women as candidates and voters, with specific focus on youth, to participate in the general 2010 municipal and parliament elections was also implemented.
A comprehensive Gender Budgeting training programme was undertaken with the participation of all relevant line ministries.
UNDP Bahrain also continued its work with government and CSOs on addressing the issue of violence against women. A number of activities were implemented in collaboration with the Bahraini Men’s Network to End Violence against Women, and women NGOs that included establishment of a 24/7 hotline. Moreover, under the “Women Programme”, a training of trainers was conducted in partnership with OXFAM for practitioners on handing and addressing violence issues and cases.