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United Nations and UN agencies in Africa

UPD.2024. The United Nations (UN) and its specialized agencies operate extensively across Africa, focusing on a wide range of issues including development, humanitarian assistance, peacekeeping, and health. Below is a list of the main UN entities and agencies active in Africa, along with a brief description of their primary focus areas within the continent.

Using its unique potential as a world center for international cooperation, the UN system plays an important role in coordinating all types of assistance to African countries so that they can act independently. In particular, the UN assists in the development of democratic institutions, in the establishment of peace between the warring countries and in the field of ensuring and protecting human rights. The United Nations in the field is promoting economic and social development.

As part of this effort, the UN is working closely with African regional cooperation centers. There are currently seven peacekeeping operations in Africa. UN peacekeepers serve in the Central African Republic, in two regions of Sudan, including Darfur (with the African Union) and Abye, in South Sudan, Mali, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Western Sahara.

In order to expand assistance to African countries, in 2003 the UN established the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa, which is responsible for increasing the volume of international assistance in ensuring the development and strengthening the security of the countries of the continent, as well as for improving coordination of assistance through the UN system. The Office also facilitates international thematic discussions, primarily on issues related to the New Partnership for Africa's Development, a strategic framework adopted by African leaders in 2001. In 2019, the mandate of the New Partnership for Africa's Development was changed. The partnership was the first African Union development agency.

โ˜๏ธ If you need help on how to get a job within UNDP read our Recruitment Guide to the UN.

Find below the list of UN offices and UN agencies that work in Africa. You may easy follow its websites and monitor all their activities and job opportunities.

Nairobi, Kenya

The United Nations Office at Nairobi is the UN's Headquarters in Africa. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) also have their main offices in Nairobi.

The mission of the UN Environment Programme is to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment. It is a lead UN actor in the fight to adapt to and mitigate climate change.

UN-HABITAT's mission is to work towards a better urban future. It promotes sustainable human settlements development and the achievement of adequate shelter for all.

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โš ๏ธ ๐‚๐ก๐š๐ง๐ ๐ž ๐˜๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐‹๐ข๐Ÿ๐ž ๐๐จ๐ฐ: ๐๐จ๐ฐ๐ž๐ซ๐Ÿ๐ฎ๐ฅ ๐“๐ž๐œ๐ก๐ง๐ข๐ช๐ฎ๐ž๐ฌ ๐ก๐จ๐ฐ ๐ญ๐จ ๐ ๐ž๐ญ ๐š ๐ฃ๐จ๐› ๐ข๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐”๐ง๐ข๐ญ๐ž๐ ๐๐š๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง๐ฌ ๐๐Ž๐–!

Other UN agencies and entities with offices in Nairobi

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa is made up of 54 Member States from the area. It is the only UN agency mandated to operate at the regional and sub-regional levels to harness resources and bring them to bear on Africaโ€™s priorities. In addition to its headquarters office in Addis Ababa, the ECA has sub-regional offices for Central Africa (in Yaounde, Cameroon), Eastern Africa (Kigali, Rwanda), North Africa (Rabat, Morocco), Southern Africa (Lusaka, Zambia) and West Africa (Niamey, Niger).

UN Peacekeeping Operations in Africa

United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO)
United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA)
United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA)
United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DR Congo (MONUSCO)
African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID)
United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA)
United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS)
United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS)

United Nations (UN) Entities in Africa

  • United Nations Development Programme (UNDP): Focuses on poverty reduction, democratic governance, energy and environment, and social development.
  • United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF): Works on improving health, education, equality, and protection for children.
  • World Health Organization (WHO): Aims to promote health, keep the world safe, and serve the vulnerable with a focus on health systems, disease control, and medical research.
  • United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR): Provides protection and assistance to refugees, asylum-seekers, internally displaced people, and stateless individuals.
  • World Food Programme (WFP): Addresses hunger and promotes food security by providing emergency food aid and supporting food security initiatives.
  • United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO): Works on education, natural sciences, social and human sciences, culture, and communication and information.
  • United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA): Focuses on reproductive health, gender equality, and population strategies.
  • United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP): Leads environmental initiatives, focusing on climate change, disasters and conflicts, ecosystem management, and environmental governance.
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO): Aims to defeat hunger and improve nutrition and food security through sustainable agricultural practices.
  • International Labour Organization (ILO): Works to promote rights at work, encourage decent employment opportunities, enhance social protection, and strengthen dialogue on work-related issues.
  • United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women): Focuses on gender equality and women's empowerment.
  • United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC): Aims at combating illicit drugs, crime, and terrorism through prevention, law enforcement, and health.
  • United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO): Promotes industrial development for poverty reduction, inclusive globalization, and environmental sustainability.
  • United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat): Works towards a better urban future by supporting countries in urban planning, slum upgrading, and access to basic services.
  • โ˜๏ธ If you need help on how to get a job within UNDP read our Recruitment Guide to the UN.

Peacekeeping and Political Missions in Africa

  • United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA): Aims to support political processes and stabilize Mali.
  • United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO): Supports the Government of the DRC in its stabilization and peace consolidation efforts.
  • United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS): Provides protection to civilians and supports the peace process in South Sudan.
  • United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL): Supports Libya's transitional authorities in their efforts to stabilize the country and implement the political transition.

Specialized Agencies and Programs

  • United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD): Focuses on managing trade, investment, and development issues specifically in the African context, aiming to enhance the continent's integration into the global economy.
  • United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF): Provides microfinance and investment capital for the world's 48 least developed countries, with a focus on Africa, to support local economic development and to empower communities.
  • International Telecommunication Union (ITU): Works on improving telecommunication infrastructure and services, aiming to bridge the digital divide in Africa.
  • World Meteorological Organization (WMO): Enhances the capacity of African countries to provide weather and climate services essential for sustainable development and disaster risk reduction.
  • International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO): Supports the development of safe, secure, and sustainable civil aviation in Africa.
  • International Maritime Organization (IMO): Promotes maritime safety and security, and the prevention of marine pollution by ships, along the African coastline.
  • World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO): Assists African countries in using intellectual property rights to support economic growth and development.
  • International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA): Works with African member states to promote the peaceful use of nuclear technology in areas such as health, agriculture, and energy.
  • United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC): Facilitates South-South and triangular cooperation globally, including various initiatives in African countries to share knowledge and best practices.
  • United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS): Implements a wide range of infrastructure and procurement projects in Africa, focusing on building resilience and sustainable development.
  • United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect: Engages with African nations to strengthen national capacities to prevent genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity.

Regional Commissions

  • Economic Commission for Africa (ECA): One of the five regional commissions of the United Nations, ECA's mandate is to promote the economic and social development of African countries, foster intra-regional integration, and promote international cooperation for Africa's development.

Training and Research Institutes

  • United Nations University (UNU): Offers research, policy advice, and education on pressing global problems, with several initiatives focused on Africa's development challenges.
  • United Nations System Staff College (UNSSC): Provides learning and training opportunities to UN staff and partners, including courses relevant to the African context.

Humanitarian Assistance and Emergency Response

  • Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA): Coordinates effective and principled humanitarian action in partnership with national and international actors, including responses to emergencies and natural disasters in Africa.
  • United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC): Part of the international emergency response system for sudden-onset emergencies, UNDAC supports African countries during the first phase of a disaster.

The United Nations' presence in Africa is comprehensive, with various agencies and programs designed to address the continent's unique challenges and opportunities. From promoting economic development, education, and health to ensuring peace, security, and human rights, the UN's efforts are geared towards supporting sustainable development and improving the lives of people across the continent. Through collaboration with African governments, regional organizations, and civil society, the United Nations continues to play a crucial role in shaping a prosperous and stable future for Africa.

Special Initiatives and Collaborations

  • HeForShe: A solidarity campaign for the advancement of gender equality, initiated by UN Women, actively engages men and boys as advocates and agents of change for the achievement of gender equality and women's rights in Africa.
  • Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement: In collaboration with UNICEF and WHO, this global initiative unites governments, civil society, the UN, donors, businesses, and researchers in a collective effort to improve nutrition in African countries.

Trust Funds and Specialized Projects

  • Peacebuilding Fund (PBF): The UN's financial instrument of first resort to sustain peace in countries or situations at risk. The PBF has numerous projects across Africa aimed at reducing the risk of lapsing or relapsing into conflict by building national capacities for conflict management.
  • Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF): Provides rapid financial support to humanitarian emergencies across Africa, where needs are greatest.
  • United Nations Central Africa Regional Coordination Mechanism (RCM): Enhances UN interagency coordination to support the economic and social development of Central African states, working closely with the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).

Technical Assistance and Capacity Building

  • United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR): Provides targeted training programs to African countries, focusing on governance, environmental management, and peacekeeping operations.
  • United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC): Facilitates the sharing of knowledge, skills, and successful development strategies among African nations through South-South and triangular cooperation.

Advocacy and Policy Support

  • United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD): Conducts research and policy analysis on issues of poverty, inequality, and social development in Africa.
  • United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB): Through its High-Level Committee on Programmes, it addresses cross-cutting issues affecting Africa, such as climate change, health crises, and sustainable development.

Regional and Sub-Regional Efforts

  • African Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI): In conjunction with UNEP and the African Union, this initiative aims to accelerate and scale up the harnessing of Africaโ€™s huge renewable energy potential.
  • Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative: An African-led project with UN support, aiming to combat desertification and improve food security and climate resilience across North Africa, the Sahel, and the Horn of Africa.

Environmental and Conservation Efforts

  • Wild for Life: Led by UNEP and UNDP in partnership with other agencies, this campaign combats wildlife crime and aims to protect endangered species in Africa.
  • Global Environment Facility (GEF): Though not a UN agency, the GEF works closely with UN entities to address global environmental issues in African countries, offering grants to support projects related to biodiversity, climate change, land degradation, and more.

This more detailed overview illustrates the depth and breadth of the United Nations' commitment to supporting sustainable development, peace, and security across Africa. Through a diverse array of programs, initiatives, and partnerships, the UN system continues to address the continent's multifaceted challenges while leveraging its significant opportunities for growth and progress.

โ˜๏ธ If you need help on how to get a job within UNDP read our Recruitment Guide to the UN