UNDP Around the world

Our Perspectives

Crisis response

7 things we learned in the Western Balkans about tackling displacement

20 Jun 2017 by Susanna Dakash, Youth and Civic Engagement Consultant, UNDP Europe and Central Asia

In the Western Balkans and elsewhere, the refugee crisis is a wake-up call for local governments to better prepare for sudden crises. UNDP photo
In 2015, 900,000 refugees and migrants crossed through Southeast Europe in the largest displacement of people since World War II. Many crossed from Greece to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia on their way to northern Europe. Most towns on that route were taken by surprise. Many didn’t have the doctors, food stocks, waste capacity, or sufficient housing to handle hundreds of thousands of additional people. Their whole approach to planning was suddenly upended. And many refugees ended up staying for months. … Read more

How can we 'fix' disaster recovery?

07 Jun 2017 by Jo Scheuer, Director, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP and Francis Ghesquiere, Head of the Global Facility for Disaster Risk Reduction (GFDRR), World Bank

Disaster risk reductionIt is critical that disaster-prone countries establish the necessary institutional, policy and budgetary arrangements before a disaster occurs, while also strengthening their capacity for coordination and implementation. Photo: Andrea Ruffini/UNDP
Deficient recovery is imperiling sustainable development, and leaving millions of the most vulnerable behind. The link between poverty and disasters is becoming clearer – new research shows that extreme weather events alone are pushing up to 26 million people into poverty every year. With forces like climate change, urban expansion, and population growth driving this trend, annual losses have passed more than $500 billion annually, and show no signs of slowing. With limited time and resources, however, adequate preparedness for these common events is often neglected in developing countries. The result is a pattern of deficient recovery that is imperiling sustainable development, and leaving millions of the most vulnerable behind. … Read more

Responding to drought must be sustainable, not piecemeal

18 May 2017 by Siddharth Chatterjee, United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Kenya

Children fetching water in Dadaab, Kenya. Photo Leonard Odini/UNDP Kenya
Food security in Kenya has deteriorated significantly since the end of 2016. According to UNICEF, nearly 110,000 children under-five need treatment, up from 75,300 in August 2016. Waterholes and rivers have dried up, leading to widespread crop failure and livestock depletion. Malnutrition is widespread among children. In the hardest-hit counties of Turkana, Marsabit and Mandera, a third of children under 5 are acutely malnourished – double the emergency threshold. High malnutrition, when combined with an outbreak of cholera or measles, can lead to a surge in deaths among children and other vulnerable groups. Underfunded response We must urgently respond to this malnutrition crisis through treatment and prevention. Blanket supplementary feeding for young children and pregnant and lactating women can avert a catastrophic spike in mortality in the months ahead. … Read more

We can save lives and restore dignity in Somalia

15 May 2017 by Mourad Wahba, Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Arab States

In Somalia, the ground is parched. Riverbeds are dry. There’s no vegetation left, livestock are dead, and countless livelihoods lost. Photo: UNDP in Somalia
I was just in Somalia, one of four conflict-ridden countries in Africa and the Middle East facing drought, a crisis that places 20 million people on the brink of famine. The situation is dire.But with your generous support, we can avert catastrophe. We can save lives and we can restore dignity. The looming famine has rendered large swaths of land uninhabitable. In Somalia, the ground is parched. Riverbeds are dry. There’s no vegetation left, livestock are dead, and countless livelihoods lost. Without adequate rainfall, many Somalis’ sources of income – farming and raising livestock – have evaporated. Hundreds of thousands sold what little they had and walked for days to reach displaced person camps where they can drink clean water and get rations from time to time. Inside the camp, people sit in makeshift tents, waiting for the rain. Somalia is especially vulnerable because of a years-long conflict and lack of a working government. Thus the humanitarian situation is deteriorating rapidly. But we can save lives if we act now. … Read more

Addressing climate-induced risks in an urbanizing world

12 May 2017 by Rajeev Issar, Policy Specialist, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction, UNDP

Flooded streetWith a global population expected to be over 66 percent urban by 2050, and two-thirds of the urban environment remaining to be built, the opportunities to advance risk-informed and resilient urban development must be harnessed. Photo: UNDP Peru
Having lived my entire life in big cities, I always had a feeling that cities were safe from the vagaries of disasters -- which occurred in some distant rural area and never closer to home. Once in a while, incidents like rainfall induced flooding or mild earthquake shakings, which disrupted day-to-day life for some time, were shrugged off as one-off events. The sense of invincibility of the urban lives and livelihoods remained. … Read more

To end famine and secure peace in South Sudan, women are vital

08 May 2017 by Kamil Kamaluddeen, Country Director, UNDP South Sudan

Sudanese woman with cowsSouth Sudanese women are supporting families and producing what little food is available – and they are already playing a key role in building peace. Photo: UNDP South Sudan
More than 3.5 million people have been displaced and 7.5 million need emergency aid as a result of South Sudan’s three-year-old civil conflict, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Oil revenues have declined, farming and business activities have halted in many areas, and inflation has soared. The number of people classified as “severely food insecure” is expected to reach 5.5 million by July 2017, and more than 1 million children are acutely malnourished. The world’s youngest country is now on the brink of mass starvation. … Read more

Oceans of data, islands of databases

08 May 2017 by Sanny Jegillos, Senior Advisor, Disaster Risk Reduction, UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub

Man in his shopRisk-informed recovery programmes respond to the unique development challenges of island countries like Vanuatu, which was hit by Cyclone Pam in March 2016. UNDP Photo
I am currently in the Solomon Islands, on my second mission in the Pacific Islands this year, and I am now certain that I will be back in Papua New Guinea in less than a month. Since Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu and Cyclone Winston in Fiji (2015/2016), my engagement as UNDP advisor on disaster risk reduction and recovery in the Pacific has increased. For UNDP colleagues based in the Pacific, I hear that there has not been any pause in crisis response since 2014. What does this trend mean? What do we foresee in the future? Where do we get the information to guide our organization’s strategy and programmes? … Read more

Integrating climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction

05 May 2017 by Walid Ali, Climate Change Specialist, UNDP Regional Hub for Arab States

The ongoing conflict is the root cause of the food crisis in Yemen, but climate change serves as a ‘threat multiplier’. Photo: Maged Ali
As the Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction soon gets underway, the world is witnessing the highest levels of famine risk in decades. While war and conflict stand as a major root cause of the crisis in the Middle East and Africa, climate change is a key “enhancer” of the humanitarian crisis unfolding before our eyes. Supporting UNDP’s climate change actions in the Arab region, I experience first-hand how an integrated approach to climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction (DRR) is needed more than ever. Both share a focus on risk-informed development and preventing the worst impacts of climatic disasters from emerging. They have a common objective to build the resilience of communities so they can withstand and bounce back from crisis. Recent years have seen devastating impacts of more frequent and severe droughts from Syria and Iraq to Somalia and Sudan. Some studies now show that the region may face multi-year mega-droughts in the future as the region’s climate shifts to a ‘new normal’. … Read more

Protecting the rights of people affected by disasters

04 May 2017 by María del Carmen Sacasa, UNDP Resident Representative, Peru

In addition to saving lives, the response to the flooding in Peru must seek to promote the active participation of people affected by the disaster. Photo: Mónica Suárez Galindo/UNDP Peru
In the past few weeks we have witnessed the devastating consequences of intense rains and landslides in Peru, affecting thousands of people. In counterpoint to the tragedy, the situation has also presented a unique opportunity to bring the country together. In the best-case scenario, we can demonstrate to Peruvians and to the world that it is possible to emerge from difficulty through solidarity. This means uniting different levels of government, politicians, civil society, people of all ages and the international community behind a common purpose: helping people recover. … Read more

Leave no one behind – even in times of crisis

04 May 2017 by Edward Kallon, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Nigeria.

Students attend class at Makinta Kuriri Primary School in Borno State, northeast Nigeria. UNDP helps rebuild schools and other community infrastructure so displaced families can return home. Photo: Bridget Jangfa/UNDP Nigeria
The Lake Chad basin in Nigeria is on the brink of famine. For seven years, Boko Haram insurgents have descended on communities, driving people from their homes and killing thousands. The level of destruction is breath-taking. But more shocking is the vulnerable position survivors are in now. There are 5.7 million people in north-east Nigeria in urgent need of food, most of them children. This number will continue to rise unless we act. Humanitarian aid is reaching those in need, but with the existing funding gap, assistance will soon run out and the lives of millions will be at risk. We must help them now. … Read more