Powering west Mosul’s water plants

16 Aug 2017 by Hugo de Vries, Stabilization Specialist, Funding Facility for Stabilization, UNDP Iraq

Working with the Government of Iraq, UNDP is contracting local companies and workers to rebuild areas liberated from Islamic State control, including restoring the water plant that supplies half of west Mosul.
Mosul was one of the last major holdouts in Iraq of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), who took control of the city in mid-2014. The military campaign to liberate the city started in October 2016 and continued for 10 months. Nearly one million civilians were evacuated during one of the largest managed evacuations in modern history. Mosul was declared fully liberated by the Prime Minister of Iraq in early July, and the difficult work of rebuilding has begun. More than 700,000 civilians are still away from their homes – waiting to restart their lives. Through its Funding Facility for Stabilization, UNDP has been implementing projects in Mosul in close proximity to the front line since late 2016. More than 300 are already under way and hundreds more are starting in coming weeks. In support of the Government of Iraq, the Facility focuses on speed and functionality and is designed to help jumpstart local economies once the fighting stops. Ninety-five percent of all stabilization initiatives are contracted through the local Iraqi private sector. This lowers costs, ensures high levels of local ownership and produces jobs in the areas where they are needed the most. … Read more

Confronting climate change in South Sudan

29 Jun 2017 by Jean-Luc Stalon, Deputy Country Director, UNDP South Sudan and Biplove Choudhary, Team Leader, Human Development and Inclusive Growth, UNDP South Sudan

Up to 95 percent of the people of South Sudan, or more than 11 million people, depend on climate sensitive sectors, including agriculture, forestry resources and fisheries. Photo: Albert Gonzalez Farran, UNDP
The man-made crisis in South Sudan has pushed the country back on multiple fronts, hampering agricultural production, disrupting livelihoods and the coping abilities of communities. These are but few of several compelling reasons as to why climate change risks in South Sudan should be a pressing worry at this point in time for the policy makers and international partners. Despite its having no role in contributing to global warming, the country is at once highly vulnerable and least prepared to address looming threats systematically across sectors. According to the Climate Change Vulnerability Index 2017, South Sudan is ranked amongst the five worst performing in the world alongside the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Haiti and Liberia. Projections indicate that in South Sudan, global warming will be felt 2 ½ times more than the global average Up to 95 percent of the livelihoods of the people of South Sudan, or more than 11 million people, depend on climate sensitive sectors, including agriculture, forestry resources and fisheries. Anecdotally, seasonal streams are beginning to dry up, affecting fishing communities in several parts of the country. Drier weather spells are also likely to be an underlying driver of increased deforestation and resource-based conflicts between the pastoralists and the farming communities over access to grazing land. … Read more

3 lessons from Equator Prize 2017 winners

29 Jun 2017 by Martin Sommerschuh, Programme Analyst, Equator Initiative, UNDP

Children planting mangroveThe village of Bang La has been sustainably managing a 192-hectare forest that has shielded the community from devastating disasters and improved livelihoods through increased fish catch. Photo: Community Mangrove Forest Conservation of Baan Bang La
The Equator Prize recognizes innovative community initiatives that promote nature-based solutions for local sustainable development. In the past 15 years, the Equator Initiative has highlighted the successful contributions of indigenous and local communities to the environment, poverty and climate challenges. The initiatives we work with have taught us that action at the local level is essential to achieve sustainable development. Today, the Equator Initiative announces the winners of the Equator Prize 2017, recognizing 15 new Equator Prize winners. They will be honoured at an award ceremony in New York in September. Over the past three months, I have had the privilege of leading the inspiring and sometimes nail-biting selection process – a three-stage exercise in which an independent Technical Advisory Committee chooses the winners. I am sharing here a few key lessons we learned along the way. … Read more

Rebuilding lives and neighbourhoods after conflict

28 Jun 2017 by Matthew French, Programme Specialist, UNDP Iraq

Children sit on a step outside their home while a man works inside.Children wait outside while repairs are made to their home in Fallujah, Iraq. Photo: Lindsay Mackenzie/UNDP Iraq
The fall of Mosul to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in 2014 and the group’s quick progress across nearly one third of the country plunged Iraq into a deep political, social and security crisis. Almost five million Iraqis have fled their homes to safer areas in the country. Significant progress has been made to liberate towns and cities from ISIL, including the major cities of Ramadi and Fallujah in Anbar and large parts of Mosul in Ninewah. As of June 2017, more than 1.8 million people have returned to their homes in liberated areas. Iraqis who have returned have found their homes and neighbourhoods in ruins. Collapsed roofs, smashed windows, and broken doors are common. Household goods were looted or destroyed, fixtures and fittings damaged, and walls punctuated with bullet holes. The damage is not only a practical problem and safety hazard; for many Iraqis, the damage is a very tangible reminder of their immense suffering over the past years and makes it difficult to have hope in the future of a post-ISIL Iraq. UNDP’s Funding Facility for Stabilization (FFS) supports the Government of Iraq to rehabilitate public infrastructure and facilitate returns as quickly as possible. The broader goal is to help give Iraqis a sense of forward momentum and confidence in the leading role of the Government. FFS is operational in 28 towns and cities across Iraq. To date, more than 1,100 projects valued at over US$600 million are completed or under implementation in a range of sectors, including water, electricity, sewage, education, and health. … 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

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

Yemen needs broad support to stop the crisis

24 Apr 2017 by Auke Lootsma, Country Director, UNDP Yemen

Some 17 million people in Yemen don’t know where they might find their next meal, and 6.8 million face life-threatening malnutrition—in a country of only 27 million. Photo: WFP/Abeer Etefa
Fragile, impoverished Yemen already ranked among the world’s poorest countries when political transition erupted into all-out war two years ago. To make things worse, the country is also suffering the largest food security crisis worldwide. It will take far more than emergency aid to address one of the worst food and humanitarian emergencies in recent memory. Yemen’s deepening crisis has reversed decades of hard-won development gains, with civilians paying an appalling price. Five years ago, for example, as a result of UNDP’s de-mining efforts, the country was nearly mine-free. Now, all 22 governorates are littered with explosives, in some cases severely. More than 3 million people have been displaced, nearly 8,000 killed, and over 40,000 injured in the ongoing conflict. … Read more

Brussels conference on Syria: Placing resilience at the forefront of the international response

03 Apr 2017 by Moises Venancio, Adviser, UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States

Through its 3RP partnership with UNHCR, UNDP works to build resilience among refugees and host communities in the region. UNHCR photo
The 2016 London Conference on Supporting Syria and the Region drew world leaders from around the globe and raised more than US$10 billion dollars in pledges to address one of the largest, longest-running crises in modern memory. “Never has the international community raised so much money on a single day for a single crisis,” the UN Secretary-General observed. Hosted by Germany, Norway, Kuwait and the UK, London brought together OCHA, UNDP and UNHCR, integrating the need for urgent humanitarian with the need for more medium-term resilience approaches to support Syrians and the communities hosting them in surrounding countries and to assist the vulnerable populations inside Syria.. Significantly, it focused on education and livelihoods, yielding multi-year commitments including concessional loans inside Syria, and tried to spearhead a new “compact” with Jordan and Lebanon—with increased international funding aimed at boosting jobs for Syrian refugees. Together, these and other innovations acknowledged the need for a new, more robust approach to address what remains a vast and prolonged crisis. … Read more

Renewed hope in Lebanon

28 Mar 2017 by Luca Renda, Country Director, UNDP Lebanon

A Syrian family fleeing the besieged city of Yabrud, Syria arrives in Arsal, Lebanon. Lebanon is now home to the largest number of Syrian refugees: one out of five people in the country is a refugee. Photo: UNHCR/A. McConnell
The ramifications of the Syrian crisis are far reaching in all its neighbouring countries, but are especially felt in Lebanon, a country still recovering from the scars of its own civil war. The crisis has affected Lebanon in many ways: slowing down economic growth, amplifying social divisions along confessional lines and spawning political paralysis. The most dramatic impact is the influx of over a million Syrian refugees, who now constitute around a quarter of the population. Lebanon now has the highest per-capita concentration of refugees in the world. Such combined shocks have greatly reduced Lebanon’s chances of meeting its development targets. Even before the outset of the Syrian crisis, Lebanon had a mixed performance on the Millennium Development Goals, registering good progress in nutrition, health and education, but lagging behind in key goals such as poverty reduction and environmental sustainability. The crisis has further exacerbated these gaps – particularly as almost 90 per cent of Lebanon’s Syrian reflive within the poorest Lebanese communities. The exceptional magnitude of the crisis has prompted the UN to mount one of the largest and most complex response operations in the world. This is to meet the needs of both the Syrian refugees and – just as importantly – the Lebanese hosting communities. … Read more

Lessons from a year of post-ISIL stabilization in Iraq

07 Mar 2017 by Moises Venancio, Adviser, UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States

The Funding Facility for Immediate Stabilization project is designed to support early recovery in liberated towns and motivate millions of displaced Iraqis to return to their communities. Photo: UNDP
In Mosul a battle is raging to take back the city from ISIL. As the fighting ends, essential work is ramping up to make sure that people who have been displaced by occupation and war can return to their homes as fast as possible - and stay there. Already in the past year, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in close cooperation with the Iraqi government, the provincial authorities and the international coalition, has helped to re-boot social and economic recovery in 18 locations that have been liberated from ISIL, including Falluja and Tikrit. Our US$790 million Funding Facility for Immediate Stabilization (FFIS) project is designed to support the early recovery effort in liberated towns through a three-month, high-impact programme to motivate millions of displaced Iraqis to return to their communities from camps and informal settlements across the country. UNDP is making sure that people get services like water, clinics, schools, police stations, markets and government buildings. Families are receiving help to rebuild damaged homes, public infrastructure is being rehabilitated and small businesses are being supported with cash grants to get started again. These actions are essential to ensure those who were forced to flee are able to return and stay in the area, making them productive citizens once again. It is the first step towards post-conflict recovery and peace building. … Read more