20 years of mine action progress, but not yet in the clear

03 Apr 2017 by Olaf Juergensen, Mine Action and Development Specialist, UNDP Eurasia

deminers in Bosnia Deminers at work in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Photo: UNDP Bosnia and Herzegovina
My earliest personal encounter with landmines occurred in Mozambique in 1994, shortly after its brutal 17-year civil war came to end. I was conducting research in a remote district of Tete Province, close to the Malawi border, to learn how communities remaining in the country coped with the daily threats of violence and deprivation. The war created 2 million refugees and 5 million internally displaced persons. With the peace agreement holding, people slowly returned home to begin the difficult work of rebuilding their lives. But they were greeted by an estimated 2 million landmines. I travelled many of same routes as the returnees and often wondered about the presence of mines, but lacking awareness, I didn’t alter my routine or attitude to the risks. After an accident involving a truck in a WFP convoy that struck an anti-vehicle mine only 100 metres from a food distribution point, I realized the risks. … Read more

When it comes to the lives of LGBTI people, dialogue can save lives

21 Mar 2017 by Seda Karaca and John Macauley

gay pride tiranaEven though progress is on its way, many LGBTI members suffer discrimination across the region. Photo: Albinfo/Wikipedia
It is not news that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people face discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity around the world. The situation is no better in Eastern Europe. Opinion survey from Western Balkans conducted in 2015 reveals staggering results: 50 percent of the respondents think “a child cannot become gay in normal families”;25 percent of the surveyed say “gay people are no better than criminals”; More than 50 percent perceive homosexuality as a sickness; Around 30 percent admit that they would stop communication after discovering a friend to be LGBTI. There have been several attacks against gay men in Prishtina. In 2016, 5 attacks happened in a row in Belgrade against LGBTI persons, including a prominent activist. It’s worth noting that only two of these attacks were reported to the police. This raises the issue of lack of trust in authorities among LGBTI communities. … Read more

Can we track disasters before they happen?

17 Mar 2017 by Aida Hadzic-Hurem, UNDP BiH, Disaster Risk Reduction Project Manager

disaster mitigation - BiHHave you tried DRAS? Check it out and let us know what you think in the comments! We’d love to hear from you.
In May 2014, Bosnia and Herzegovina was hit by devastating floods causing loss of human life, and damages and losses of 2 billion EUR. In the midst of the tragedy, all of us were proud of the exceptional assistance that UNDP provided to the ones that needed it the most. Our staff worked tirelessly and efficiently to deliver much needed relief, putting in place recovery programs worth close to 80 million USD. As UNDP, we also used the momentum to start creating awareness that poor development decisions can worsen the impact of disasters. Disaster Risk Analysis System (DRAS) was hence born out of the understanding that disaster risk management cannot happen with civil protection measures alone. … Read more

Eating an elephant in Bosnia & Herzegovina

02 Mar 2017 by Envesa Hodzic-Kovac, Development Research and M&E Specialist, UNDP Bosnia and Herzegovina

Eating an elephant - BiHThe Little Prince knew a thing or two about how elephants get eaten.
  “How do you eat an elephant? One spoonful at a time.” So the joke goes. With any undertaking whose size and proportions are immense, where to start can be daunting. Like the Sustainable Development Goals — an ambitious set of goals agreed to by UN Members States that establishes milestones of growth & equality for our planet. No poverty. Zero hunger. Reduced inequalities. Sustainable cities, climate action, decent work. All by 2030. All ambitious. Demanding that different entities of the UN work together in new ways. How do you prioritise different aspects of human development – all urgent, all long-term issues that cannot be solved with short-fixes? You need to have a plan. You need to know where to start. You need to inspire individual action, communal action, citizen action. But how do you exactly get people on board for a complex agenda like this one? And in my case, how do you do it in a complex administrative set-up such as that of Bosnia and Herzegovina? One spoonful at a time: Use strategic foresight In Bosnia and Herzegovina, to start getting our heads around the 2030 Agenda, we needed a participatory planning process. We needed a forward-looking approach that … Read more

Can gender perspectives change the way we do firearms control?

27 Feb 2017 by Dragan Bozanic, Gender Project Officer, UNDP SEESAC

gender perspectives on firearms policySEESAC leads regional efforts for disarmament and arms control in the region.
  What’s gender got to do with firearms and homicides? Quite a lot, our latest study shows. Men own over 95 per cent of firearms in the South East Europe region. They also dominate professions with easy access to firearms – the police and the military – reflecting some of the roles ascribed to men such as protector or warrior. Unsurprisingly, this trend has major implications in firearms incidents. According to our research, men commit 97 percent of firearm-related incidents and tend to be the victims of firearm-related incidents over 80 percent of the time. The high ratio of young men as perpetrators and victims of gun violence points to the strong role that masculinity has in firearms ownership. It’s clear that certain behaviors linked with masculinity such as risk-taking or competitiveness can fuel demand for firearms which are often used as tools for exercising power. A study on young men and armed violence from 2006 by Bevan and Florquin identified a similar trend - namely that firearms can be a strong symbol of power for marginalized young men. Their research supports our findings: violence often serves as a means to reach a higher position of social and economic status for … Read more

In Moldova, we can make investigative journalism great again. Here's how.

20 Feb 2017 by Olga Crivoliubic, Project Manager, UNDP Moldova and Mariana Rata, Journalist

anti-corruption drawingJournalists gather in Moldova. Photo: UNDP Moldova / Mircea Zatusevschi
Corruption offences often remain unexposed; investigative journalists often put themselves at high risk to shed light on these crimes. That’s why, last year as UNDP in Moldova we partnered with the National Anticorruption Centre to organise a contest for the best journalistic investigations on corruption. In publicly recognising the strongest journalistic efforts, we aimed to bring further awareness to their work. Read the testimony of Mariana Rata, a reputable investigative journalist who takes an in-depth look at the challenges faced by investigative journalism in Moldova. If investigative journalism today exists in the Republic of Moldova at all, it exists only as ‘connected’ to the oxygen mask of external donors. Investigative journalism is an expensive product due to the amount of time and material resources it requires (including access to databases and public registries.) Indeed, no newspaper can afford an investigative journalist unless they are paid from the funds provided by external partners for different projects. … Read more

Prototyping the government of the future in Armenia

24 Jan 2017 by Marina Mkhitaryan, Max Perry-Wilson, Hasmik Soghomonyan

No matter where you live, reforming how the public sector operates is a difficult task. How do we ensure that public services are designed to be as effective and accessible as possible? How do we make government agile and responsive in the face of black swans and wicked challenges? How do we develop a bureaucracy that handles a myriad of tasks as efficiently as possible? In post-Soviet contexts, this challenge is even greater. In the Soviet era, a top-down hierarchy rarely rewarded risk-taking and experimentation, a sentiment that is still too common today. Our own research in Armenia shows that experts fear “rocking the boat” with new ideas without say-so from a higher-up. This results in a channel of creativity that flows only from the top down, leading to services that do not account for citizens’ voices. After all, public sector innovation is not only about listening to citizens’ voices – it is also about optimising working process and getting your big bureaucracy to work effectively and efficiently. … Read more

How much does peace cost?

13 Jan 2017 by Ben Slay, Senior Advisor

PeaceJam’s “One Billion Acts of Peace” campaign encourages youth to respond as individuals to causes of conflict in their communities.
A report recently issued by The Institute for Economics and Peace found that the world spent nearly $14 trillion on war (“defence”, “security”) in 2015 alone. To put that in context, that’s 13 percent of global GDP, and it is 100 times greater than the resources set aside for the official development assistance that finances international development cooperation. It makes one wonder – how much does peace cost? How much should it? And is there a way to bring down the cost without compromising global security? This week’s Kapuściński Development Lecture at Warsaw University, to be delivered by Dawn Engle may have some ideas. The Executive Director of the PeaceJam Foundation—which has been nominated eight times for the Nobel peace prize, and which has worked with 13 different Nobel peace prize winners—helps young people to work for peace by promoting development in their own communities. The truth is that, while global development system is long on good intentions and great ideas, it can often fall short on ways to pull them together and bring them about. … Read more

One solution can "feed" multiple benefits

29 Dec 2016 by Snezana Mircevska Damjanovska, Project Officer, UNDP in fYR Macedonia

preparing foodWomen prepare food for a soup kitchen in a kindergarten in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Photo: Tomislav Georgiev / UNDP fYR Macedonia
Early every morning in the southern town of Demir Kapija, 15 people on social welfare arrive at the soup kitchen that has been established in a local kindergarten to pick up prepared meals, including warm pies and traditional stews. On Fridays they receive packages to help them get through the weekend. One 70-year-old grandfather comes every day to collect meals for himself and his wife. “At first it was a bit uncomfortable collecting food because it’s a small town and we all know each other,” he says. “But poverty makes you forget about shame. And at least in this way we are not a burden on our children.” The local kindergarten hired two kitchen assistants from amongst local unemployed people to help prepare food for the needy. The soup kitchen has enabled the kindergarten to welcome more pupils, while also helping local people on social welfare by providing them with free hot meals. … Read more

A survival book for data innovation

15 Dec 2016 by Vasko Popovski , Benjamin Kumpf , Milica Begovic and Jennifer Colville

Agricultural success in Egypt. Photo: New World Project / UNDP
New data sources are sprouting everywhere, but there’s hardly a place that systemically uses them to make a difference. With that in mind, a group of enthusiasts from UNDP in Eastern Europe and the Arab States regions embarked twenty months ago on a big data for development exploration journey with support from the Government of Denmark. The idea was to test new sources of data to generate better insights, improve delivery of services, and generate new solutions to persisting development issues. On the data high seas they were joined by colleagues from the UN Global Pulse who used their experience with big data innovation projects. Then UNV mobilized their online data volunteers. … Read more