Our Perspectives

Governance and peacebuilding

Tackling the crisis in the Lake Chad Basin

23 Feb 2017 by Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director, Regional Bureau for Africa

Part of UNDP's response to the crisis is providing skills training for women, who make up 54 percent of those displaced by the conflict in north-east Nigeria. Photo: UNDP Nigeria
Last May, the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (USCFR) organized a briefing session on the situation in the Sahel region of Africa. During the session UNDP stressed the need for broad, concerted action to confront violent extremism and bring development solutions to the region affected by the Boko Haram insurgency that originated in Nigeria’s north-east seven years ago. It identified an “arc of instability” that stretches across the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and the Lake Chad Basin. As UNDP and partners gather in Oslo for the International Humanitarian Conference on 24 February, we intend to focus on the situation in Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin with heightened urgency. As an organization with deep knowledge gained through practical experience in the field, UNDP firmly believes that an all-encompassing response is the best way to resolve this crisis. However, solutions must also be tailored to each country's specific needs. Observers readily admit the Lake Chad Basin situation has been egregiously overlooked. The crisis could affect the security, economic, environmental and institutional integrity of Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger … Read more

Bringing youth together to innovate is key to development in Africa

30 Jan 2017 by Marc Lepage, UNDP Africa regional innovation expert

Central to the 28th African Union Summit that takes place in Ethiopia this week and to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum, to be held on 30-31 January 2017, is this question: How do we harness the dividend from the continent’s current youthful population? In 2015, there were 226 million youth aged between 15-24 years in Africa (19% of the global youth population). By 2030, that number will increase by 42% and is expected to double by 2055. So, investing in youth today is key to Africa’s development tomorrow. But, to invest in youth, you first have to connect with them and allow them to connect to each other. This is precisely what YouthConnekt does. An innovative platform first launched in Rwanda in 2013, it brings together young people looking for employment, skills or resources to launch their own business with various partners including UNDP, private sector and government. … Read more

A global partnership builds resilience and renews hope of Yemenis

18 Jan 2017 by Auke Lootsma, Country Director, UNDP Yemen

In partnership with the World Bank, UNDP is implementing a US$300 million emergency project supporting 2 million Yemenis through cash-for-work, improvements to public service delivery and repairing critical infrastructure. Photo: UNDP Yemen
Yemen is facing an unprecedented political, humanitarian, and development crisis. Long the poorest country in the Arab region, over half its population was living below the poverty line before the current conflict worsened. That number has risen steeply, with over 21.5 million people needing humanitarian assistance now—close to 80 percent of the country’s 28 million people. Yemen’s political transition unravelled into full-blown war in March 2015. It has had a catastrophic impact: We in the United Nations estimate it’s already resulted in over 10,000 civilian injuries and deaths. Over 3 million people are displaced. About US$19 billion in damage to infrastructure and in other economic losses have been caused so far. The conflict has further impoverished the Yemeni population and increased their vulnerability. At least 8 million people are severely food insecure, with over 460,000 children suffering from acute malnutrition. The remarkable resilience of the Yemeni population is being tested to its limits. The war has pushed vulnerable members of the Yemeni population to the brink of famine. … Read more

Africa’s unique vulnerability to violent extremism

11 Jan 2017 by Mohamed Yahya, Regional Programme Coordinator, UNDP Africa

Africa bears the brunt of lives lost, economies ruined, and relationships fractured by terrorism. Stir in a large and growing cohort of unemployed and digitally connected youth, and the continent offers ideal conditions for mayhem. Photo: UNDP
Africa bears the brunt of lives lost, economies ruined, and relationships fractured by terrorism. It is the continent where al-Qaeda launched its war against the United States in 1998, by bombing the US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; where Boko Haram kidnapped 276 Nigerian schoolgirls in 2014; and where 147 students were killed in their sleep at Kenya’s Garissa University in 2015. While these attacks did garner the world’s attention, most people do not realize that, in the past five years alone, 33,000 people have died in terrorism-related violence in Africa. Violent extremism and groups espousing it are threatening to reverse Africa’s development gains not only in the near term, but also for decades to come. African countries are particularly vulnerable to violent ideologues, owing to the prevalence of weak institutions and ungoverned territory where extremist groups can germinate. Add to this the mismanagement of ethnic and religious diversity, stir in a large and growing cohort of unemployed and digitally connected youth, and the continent offers ideal conditions for mayhem. Emulating countries elsewhere, African governments have responded to violent extremism primarily by putting “hard” security first. But this strategy has not reduced extremist groups’ potency or limited their reach. In fact, there is evidence that an exclusively military response can be a waste of resources, or even do more harm than good. What is missing is a deeper examination of root causes, particularly underlying development challenges. … Read more

Why should you care about public procurement reform?

15 Dec 2016 by Doyeun Kim, Communications Focal Point, UN Development Business

Public procurement accounts for more than 30 percent of GDP in developing countries and 10 percent to 15 percent in developed countries, according to the International Trade Centre. Photo: UNDP
Public procurement reforms have been rolling out since the 1990s in Africa. Targeting better efficiency – but also more accountability and integrity – in the management of public resources, these reforms can shape procurement into a powerful agent for development. In the past year, Cote d’Ivoire, Uganda, Somalia, Malawi and Zimbabwe have benefited from projects financed by the World Bank and the African Development Bank in which procurement reforms were part and parcel of larger public sector management goals. Internal efforts, as well as assistance from international development agencies, are focusing on professionalizing and building capacity in national procurement systems. These efforts are consistent with the goals of good governance and prevention of corruption in the use of public funds, and they are also increasingly being linked to the Sustainable Development Goals, because public procurement can be used as a tool for achieving and sharing prosperity. What is public procurement? Public procurement, or the purchase of goods, works or services by public institutions, accounts for more than 30 percent of GDP in developing countries and 10 percent to 15 percent in developed countries, according to the International Trade Centre. It also accounts for a large percentage of government expenditures, in some countries covering more than half of government spending. Its economic significance is evident. … Read more

Data innovation for development, from idea to proof-of-concept

13 Dec 2016 by Vasko Popovski , Milica Begovic and Jennifer Colville

Effective data collection, analysis and monitoring can help policymakers to course-correct programmes and policies more quickly. Photo: UNDP Armenia
New sources of data are growing with an unprecedented pace, yet in spite all the talk about ‘data revolution’ and many pilots, one could hardly point to a place that systemically uses this new resources for good. Making sense of the quickly-growing data sets in a way that they improve the lives of citizens, workings of governments and international organizations is one of the great opportunities of our time.   Identifying and integrating faster, more detailed insights into development planning processes can lead to better-targeted responses and more efficient resource allocation. Data innovation is also part of reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Effective data collection, analysis, and monitoring can help policymakers to course-correct programmes and policies more quickly, leading to cost efficiencies and greater returns on investments, as well as empower communities to use data to drive change processes. And the catch is you don’t have to be a data scientist to innovate with data. Therefore, twenty months ago a group of data enthusiasts from UNDP Europe and Central Asia and Arab States regions embarked on a big data for development exploration journey with support from the Government of Denmark. The quest was to test new sources of data to generate … Read more

On International Anti-Corruption Day: Development vs. corruption

09 Dec 2016 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, UN Assistant Secretary-General, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

International Anti-Corruption DayActivists take part in a demonstration to mark International Anti-Corruption Day on 9 December 2014 in Bangkok. Photo: UNDP Thailand
The 9 December International Anti-Corruption Day is probably a day of resolve, of fight against injustice, but also a day to feel good about. Many activists, civil society organizations, and honest people who hold public office or manage private businesses are united around an agenda for integrity and clean, proper management of collective affairs. This should give us hope that corruption can be curbed, and that we are many more demanding transparency than those who prosper in the dark shadows of white-collar criminal behaviour. This year, UNDP and the UN Office for Drugs and Crime are commemorating International Anti-Corruption Day around the theme “United against corruption for development, peace and security”. The effort takes forward the agreement 193 UN Member States adopted last year with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Through Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 of that Agenda, world leaders for the first time acknowledged a direct link between corruption, peace and development, and established that achieving peaceful, just and inclusive societies will not be possible without curbing illicit financial flows, tax evasion, bribery and corruption. … Read more

Why we must fight harder for the rights of young women and girls

09 Dec 2016 by Mandeep Dhaliwal, Director, HIV, Health and Development Group, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

Why we must fight harder for the rights of young women and girls In the scenic valley of Panjshir, a bridge built with UNDP support makes it possible for Bahara and her classmates to go to school. Photo: Omer/UNDP Afghanistan
In her 2013 memoir, activist Malala Yousafzai recounts a moment that changes not only the course of her destiny but that of many other young girls across the world. On a trip in northwest Pakistan, she comes across a girl selling oranges who is unable to read or write. Disturbed by the discovery that this girl had not received an education, Malala makes a decision that she famously continues to see through: “I would do everything in my power to help educate girls just like her. This was the war I was going to fight.” This year, Human Rights Day calls on everyone to stand up for someone's rights. Malala’s example is what we all need to do more of: stand up for the rights of young women and girls in health, education and beyond. … Read more

Africa: To get the future we say we want, we’ve got to get rid of corruption

08 Dec 2016 by Njoya Tikum, ‎UNDP Africa Regional Anti-Corruption Advisor

One just needs to look at the newspaper headlines across Africa to see the continent’s struggle with corruption: South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, all have seen corruption and bribery rise recently. According to the latest Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, “not a single country, anywhere in the world, is corruption-free”. But in sub-Saharan Africa, people in 40 out of 46 countries think theirs has a serious corruption problem. Africa has lost over USD 1 trillion to illicit financial flows over the last 50 years, as reported the African Union’s high level panel on illicit financial flows (IFFs), led by South Africa’s former President Thabo Mbeki. This is roughly equivalent to all the official development assistance the continent received during the same timeframe. According to the panel, companies and government officials are illegally moving as much as USD 60 billion out of Africa each year. From high-level political abuse to harassment by police officers, teachers, doctors or customs officials, corruption drains countries of resources, stifles small businesses and hampers education and healthcare. Together with lack of accountability and transparency, it is the most harmful barrier to development in Africa. … Read more

How to change the world in one word: Volunteer

05 Dec 2016 by Isabela Barriga, Communications Intern, United Nations Volunteers, Ecuador

UN Volunteers in Ecuador are working to improve conditions in areas affected by the recent earthquake. Photo: Juan Diego Pérez Arias/UNV
"Young people can change the world!" These words spoken by a youth representative from the Municipal Volunteer Network in Cuenca, Ecuador, made me think. In general, young people are told that they have the power to make a difference and create a better world, but this is often just left in words. How can youth really contribute to the development of their societies? My name is Isabela, I am of American and Ecuadorian nationality. I left the United States in July of 2016 through the United Nations Volunteers programme (UNV) to explore how youth are contributing to the development of my second home, Ecuador, This is how I got to participate in the First Regional Meeting of Youth Volunteer Networks in Cuenca, where I had the opportunity to interact with young volunteers from Latin America and learn how volunteering contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the region. … Read more