Press Release

Leveraging the faith community to advance maternal health, #PutYoungPeopleFirst and harness the Demographic Dividend

5 July 2016
Mr. Mabingue Ngom, Regional Director of UNFPA West and Central Africa; Ambassador Mussie Hailu, Regional Director of URI-Africa and Representative of URI to the African Union and Mr. Serge Bounda, Chief, Liaison Office to the AUC and UNECA

Monday 4th July 2016, Addis Ababa and Dakar: UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, and United Religions Initiative - Africa (URI-Africa) sign a partnership agreement to work together at national, sub-regional and continental level.

The agreement was signed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on July 1, 2016 at the UNFPA liaison office to the African Union by Mr. Mabingue Ngom, Regional Director of UNFPA West and Central Africa and Ambassador Mussie Hailu, Regional Director of URI-Africa and Representative of URI to the African Union.

The objective of the agreement is:

·         to promote awareness of faith based organizations (FBOs) and religious leaders in Africa on population issues, build supportive coalitions and to enable them to play a leading role in promoting the Demographic Dividend as a pillar to accelerate access to maternal health services;

·         to provide FBOs and interfaith network members in Africa with factual information on the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD agenda)  and on the work of UNFPA ;

·         to address the issue of counter violent extremism and radicalization and to promote a culture of peace and interfaith harmony and cooperation for the good of all .

Both organizations also agree to cooperate in the following areas of activity in Africa:

i)             share analysis and information and support advocacy campaigns for empowering young people and women;  

ii)            popularize and help with the implementation of the global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development  and African Union 2063 Agenda – The Africa We Want;

iii)           disseminate knowledge on reproductive health, and advocate against domestic violence, stigmatization of people living with HIV and for more integration of FBO voices, perspectives and presence in national discourse on maternal health and HIV and AIDS.

The partnership agreement sets out clear area of engagement, strategic priorities and outreach to religious and traditional leaders on areas of mutual interest between the two organizations.

After signing the agreement Mr. Mabingue Ngom, Regional Director of UNFPA said “Community and religious leaders can help us achieve large scale and sustainable progress we cannot deliver with billions of USD. UNFPA and URI will leverage their collective intelligence and efforts to advance the development of Africa especially on matters regarding young people and the Demographic Dividend. It is crucial to ensure the involvement of religious and traditional leaders as indispensable partners and influencers as the continent seeks to achieve the 2063 Agenda and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

On his part Amb. Mussie Hailu said “URI in Africa is working to bring the wisdom and values of different religions, spiritual expressions and indigenous traditions in Africa through its 189 member organization in 31 Africa countries. Furthermore, I would like to compliment the work of the African Union and United Nations on bringing peace, harmony, solidarity, good health, security, human dignity, social development, education opportunity for all.” Ambassador Mussie acknowledged the important responsibility that UNFPA has in chairing and facilitating the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force for Engaging with FBO’s.

This agreement will also help to bring together FBOs, traditional leaders and policy makers to work jointly to protect and empower young people through efforts to stop child marriage, avoid early pregnancies, end female genital mutilation and to facilitate the establishment of a regional mechanism for coordination and collaboration with religious leaders, FBOs, interfaith and traditional leaders on reproductive and maternal health as related to the demographic dividend.

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Link for photos:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/100353496@N02/albums/72157667793941674

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URI-Africa is an interfaith organizations which is working to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings and it has 189 member organizations in 31 African countries.

UNFPA is the lead UN agency for delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled. UNFPA expands the possibilities for women and young people to lead healthy and productive lives. UNFPA supports African governments across the continent and collaborates with the African Union to protect and empower the young people of the continent.

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For more information, please contact:

·         Mr. Serge Bounda, Chief, Liaison Office to the AUC and UNECA bounda@unfpa.org

·         Amb. Ambassador Mussie Hailu, Regional Director of URI-Africa and Representative of URI to the African Union mussiepeace@yahoo.co.uk

·         Mr. Nelson Muffuh, WCA Regional Communications Adviser muffuh@unfpa.org