Energy poverty is a big deal in Romania – here’s how we’re helping

07 Nov 2016 by Andreea Ihos, UNDP Regional Programme Support Consultant

Around 42 percent of the Romanian population cannot pay their utility bills. 25 percent of the households are unable to keep their homes adequately warm. Across the country, approximately 30% of the dwellings have leakages and damp walls which is quite alarming as it increases the chances that people will get sick. You might think that Romania, being an EU country, would be able to provide access to all utilities for children in kindergartens and schools. Yet if you go to a low income region of Romania you would be shocked to see children are learning in old buildings without insulation, with outdated windows where you can hear the wind screeching. In such schools, children have to keep their hats and jackets on to keep warm in winter. … Read more

3 lessons from the frontlines: Working with municipalities against corruption

02 Nov 2016 by Marine Destrez, Anti-corruption specialist, Democratic Governance and Peacebuilding

Exercise from workshop in Chisnau.
Last year we launched a call for citizens working with municipalities to join the fight against corruption. Since then, our active citizens have taken us on a journey that proves transparency and accountability can be a reality at the local level. Last week we met in Chisinau to exchange on what we learnt so far on partnering with mayors to promote integrity. Here’s the rundown. 1. It starts with leadership… but it doesn’t end there! If you want people to own the process, you need to involve all staff in helping to diagnose your challenges. In Craiova, Romania, the senior staff was involved in every step of diagnosis and plan drafting, so when the mayor got arrested on corruption charges, the process could carry on. Mrs. Valentina Casian, the mayor of Straseni in Moldova, puts it very simply: “Habits are hard to kill. … Read more

Central Asia: a greener path to achieving the Global Goals

01 Nov 2016 by George Bouma, Team leader for Sustainable Development

Protecting nature in Uzbekistan. Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan
In the Central Asia region, the depletion of natural capital has become an urgent concern. A stark reminder of the region’s challenges is the drying up of the Aral Sea, which remains one of the world’s largest human-made ecological disasters. The following numbers are particularly worrying: Tajikistan loses $442 million annually, almost 8 percent of GDP, due to land degradation; improving land management could generate a net benefit of $583 per person annually. In Uzbekistan, 41 percent of the cultivated land is used to grow cotton, which requires more than 90% of extracted freshwater for irrigation. However, 20% of water is lost due to inefficiencies and structural deficiencies. These figures reflect decades of intensive and pesticide-based agriculture, breakneck extraction of minerals and razing of forests. And they should serve as a wake-up call to do things differently. … Read more

How a small film brought a big impact to a Kosovo* village

05 Oct 2016 by Shpend Qamili

BAFTA Award winning director Daniel Mulloy in Prishtina
Editor's Note I met BAFTA Award winning director Daniel Mulloy in Prishtina in early 2015. Being deeply concerned by the refugee crisis, Daniel wanted to make a movie that would speak to the West. As a refugee myself who returned home with help from the international community I shared Daniel’s passion. We decided to create a piece of art that would ask for dignity for the world’s displaced individuals, and the short film Home was born. From the beginning, we set two goals: To promote the rights of refugees and migrants, and To show Kosovo as a place with resources to do such movies with relatively low costs. We were able to galvanize much support in a short period of time. The UN Kosovo Team started the financing, and we fundraised the rest, receiving around US$1 million in in-kind contributions. … Read more

Labour migrants in Central Asia deserve our attention

19 Sep 2016 by Elena Oleshko

steelworkersCentral Asian migrant steelworkers.
Irregular migrants are at higher risk of health problems Across the region, it has become critically difficult for newly arriving migrants to work legally. While regular migrants have access to a range of social and health care services, irregular migrants can only access emergency medical care. The lack of a required legal status creates a vicious circle for irregular migrants, where tightened migration regimes push them into informal economic activities that don’t provide them with health insurance and lead to poor life-long health outcomes. … Read more

Free legal aid comes to Kyrgyzstan

31 Aug 2016 by Lucio Valerio Sarandrea, Chief Technical Advisor on Rule of Law, UNDP Kyrgyzstan

I sense a great deal of pain and dignity in the woman in front of me. I imagine how much it must have cost her to open up like this. She found out about our pro bono project on the Internet, in desperation, after a private lawyer had asked her a fee of 20,000 soms (roughly US $300). … Read more

No longer in the dark ages: Solar power brings life to rural Croatia

16 Aug 2016 by Mislav Kirac, Project expert, UNDP Croatia

What if you lived far from the grid? If you wanted power desperately but could not access it?
In the small village of Cikote, Milka and Stevo Balac have been living without electricity for more than 10 years. … Read more

Step aside, Pokemon Go: Moldova goes Mega to fight climate change

02 Aug 2016 by Taisia Camenscic, National Communication Coordinator, MEGA

The economic losses of Moldova related to natural disasters are almost 61 million USD. The disastrous droughts of 2007 and 2012 affected over 70 per cent of the territory of the country. They were also historically the most severe droughts in the entire instrumental record period. … Read more

“I’m Not Afraid to Tell”: How Kazakh women are breaking the silence on gender-based violence

25 Jul 2016 by Dina Teltayeva, Communication Associate, UNDP Kazakhstan

Over the past few months, I’ve witnessed as women in Kazakhstan break their silence on sexual violence. A campaign titled #ЯнеБоюсьСказать (I’m not afraid to tell) и НеМолчи (Don’t keep Quiet) has led to many women sharing their stories. One of them is Dina Tansari (pictured), a well-known TV producer. … Read more

Drip, drop. Can innovations save water in Kazakhstan?

04 Jul 2016 by Dina Teltayeva, Communication Associate, UNDP Kazakhstan

The quality of water in Astana is far worse than in Almaty, where I came from, and suddenly water became an issue in my life. For instance, although tap water here is considered suitable for drinking, many residents prefer to buy bottled water or install filters. … Read more