The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has reaffirmed its commitment towards building capacity for research in Eswatini.

Speaking during the certification ceremony for the outgoing cohort of interns under the Graduate Research programme run by the Eswatini Economic Policy Analysis and Research Centre (ESEPARC) with support from the UNDP, Programme Specialist Sithembiso Gina said for any country to develop, it needs research.

“We need the evidence to guide the development of the country. We need to harness all the data that is being produced in the country, bring it to the table and then decide what needs to be done,” she said. “It’s the data that informs you what to do. We need to produce results, which is what we lack in Eswatini.”

Mrs Gina said the studies that have been produced by the graduate researchers are very important to Eswatini’s development aspirations. She said the recommendations set out in the studies would be used for programming, hence the need for Emaswati to understand the value of research.

Adding, the programme specialist said the partnership UNDP has with ESEPARC entails more than capacity development at the institutional level as the agency is interested in building capacity at the national level as well. To this end, she hopes for south-south partnerships going forward, to enhance ESEPARC’s research capacity and broaden its influence on the global scale.

Mrs Gina further wished the outgoing graduate researchers all the best in their future endeavours, adding that their studies resonated well with the programming done by the United Nations as a whole.

ESEPARC Executive Director Dr Thula Sizwe Dlamini said the Centre is interested in growing the critical mass of policy analysts and researchers in Eswatini. He appreciated the partnership with UNDP, adding that the agency has become one of ESEPARC’s leading ambassadors in the country.

“We value the kind of relationship we have with UNDP as we are building important capacity for Eswatini and therefore appreciate the support we receive. There is a huge demand for this graduate research programme, we urge UNDP to continue supporting such initiatives,” he said.

The researchers; Nompulelo Dlamini, Nhlanhla Zulu, and Maqhawe Zwane expressed appreciation for being given the opportunity to participate in this programme. They all acknowledged that they have grown, not only professionally but also personally, as a result of this internship.

ESEPARC Researcher Tengetile Hlophe, who coordinates the programme internally, acknowledged that running it is a learning process and the lessons learnt would help in improving the research programme going forward.