The 2002-2006 UNDP Country Cooperation Framework was in response to the strategic priorities of the Government in the areas of transformation for human development, integrated sustainable rural development (ISRD), HIV/AIDS and poverty and environmental development.
The Joint Evaluation of the Role and Contribution of the United Nations System in South Africa in 2008 represented a watershed in UNDP's engagement in South Africa. This independent evaluation jointly commissioned and managed by the Government of South Africa and the United Nations Evaluation Group (UNEG) raised fundamental questions about the nature of the United Nations' engagement in South Africa. Some of the questions included:
"Does the UN system have the critical capacity to engage with the government at a strategic level?...Does the impact of small and scattered operational activities justify the time and cost invested in them? And if not, should the UN engage in critical activities in a country such as South Africa?"
The evaluation team concluded that while these fundamental questions could not be fully answered in the affirmative, the UN system should be given the opportunity to make the necessary improvements to justify a permanent country presence in South Africa. The evaluation made 12 recommendations for consideration by the UN Country Team in South Africa and UN Headquarters, as well as recommendations for consideration by the Government of South Africa. Recommendation 8 is central to the future permanent presence of the UN agencies in South Africa:
"The UN should focus on high-end value-added activities that generate knowledge and information for policies and programmes: where it has strength, such as providing technical assistance for monitoring and evaluating areas that cut across government departments......and activities that promote South-South dialogue."
In 2009, the Resident Coordinator with the UN Country Team embarked on a process of developing a framework for a strategic partnership with the Government of South Africa, and a strategy to reposition the UN system in South Africa. The UN Country Team produced a discussion document, based on consultation with government officials, academics, civil society and the business sector. The UNDP Country Office contributed substantially to the strategy and has adopted the framework to inform its own efforts to transition UNDP in South Africa, from where it was at the time of the joint evaluation to become a valued development partner to South Africa.
In developing its response to the national context, UNDP was guided by the UN Country Team's strategy for partnership with the Government of South Africa. This strategy, developed in 2010 was in response to the recommendations of the joint South Africa-UNEG evaluation.
The UN Country Team strategy aims to build and sustain a high-value collaboration with the Government of South Africa (GoSA). The key elements of the strategy are:
1.Focusing on high value work and support to GoSA: While the UN system will provide technical support, advice, capacity development and catalytic work, the relative balance between upstream work and downstream work will shift to the former.
2.Focusing on comparative strengths: South Africa is relatively well capacitated and has many public and private research and policy institutes and ‘think tanks' to draw on. However, the UN system has comparative experience and knowledge it can draw for the benefit of South Africa.
3.Alignment with the 12 Priority Outcomes of GoSA: These priorities have become key drivers in GoSA and there is a clear expectation from GoSA that all partners align their efforts with these priorities. These Priority Outcomes affect not only the national ministries, but also provincial and local government.
4.Working with the Centre of Government: While working with sector departments will continue, the strategy recognizes the importance of building partnerships with those ministries that have a central or coordination function. These ministries and the National Planning Commission are important strategic partners.
5.Broadening the partnership base: South Africa has a strong private sector and its potential as a partner is under-utilized. Working with peak business organizations is envisaged in the strategy.
6.Building credibility as a partner for South Africa: Improving communication and the profile of the UN system; and effective relationship management are essential for building credibility with GoSA and stakeholders.
7.Strengthening staff capacity: The UN system creates ‘value' through its people. UN staff and international experts should be appropriately skilled for the task of engaging in the South African context.
8.Better information: The strategy proposes strengthening monitoring and evaluation and knowledge management. Also, for the UN Country Team to be proactive, it needs to put in place systems to quickly collect, analyse and disseminate information on major issues and developments in the country.
9.Transforming the Resident Coordinator's Office into a strategic centre: The RCO needs access to high quality analysis of information and issues, and capacity to coordinate flow of information between the RCO and individual agencies. It also needs capacity to monitor implementation of the partnership with GoSA.
The Government of South Africa and the UN Country Team have agreed on a two-year transition period, during which they will engage in discussions around developing the new UNDAF for South Africa. The existing UNDAF has been extended until the end of 2012.
 ‘Joint Evaluation of the Role and Contribution of the United Nations System in the Republic of South Africa', report of an independent evaluation team , published by the United Nations and Government of South Africa, 2009, p xii.
Op. cit. p76.