No time to lose

24 Mar 2017 by Mandeep Dhaliwal, Director, HIV, Health and Development Group, UNDP

Every 18 seconds, someone dies of tuberculosis (TB). In the time it takes you read this blog, 12 people will have lost their lives to TB. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has set ambitious targets of ending the TB epidemic by 2030 and achieving universal health coverage. The challenge is considerable, in part because TB is leaving millions behind. In October 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that TB had surpassed HIV as the leading cause of death from infectious disease; TB is also the leading cause of death in people living with HIV. 95 percent of new TB cases and 98 percent of all TB deaths are in low- and middle-income countries. According to WHO, the average TB patient loses three to four months of work-time and up to 30 percent of yearly household earnings. The World Bank notes that TB will rob the world’s poorest countries of an estimated US$1 trillion to $3 trillion over the next 10 years. … 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

"I’m not afraid to tell"

24 Nov 2016 by Dina Teltayeva, Communications Associate, UNDP Kazakhstan

After two decades of silence, television producer Dina Tansari is speaking out about surviving sexual assault.
Over the past few months, I’ve witnessed women in Kazakhstan break their silence on sexual violence. A campaign titled #ЯнеБоюсьСказать (I’m not afraid to tell) and 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. “…I was unconscious. They left me in front of my flat, rang the bell, and ran away. In the morning I couldn’t remember anything, except for my mum’s screams when she found me…,” she wrote on her Facebook wall. Dina has spoken up after two decades of torturing silence. When she was 20, her own classmates drugged her at a wedding party and gang raped her. Her mother rented an out-of-town flat for Dina when she found out about the incident because she couldn’t bear the shame that her daughter purportedly had brought to the family. Dina was left alone with her tragedy. #IamNotAfraidtoTell was started by Ukrainian journalist Anastasiya Melnichenko. The speed with which it has spread throughout the Russian-speaking social media world is shocking in itself. … Read more

Addressing radicalization and violent extremism through climate action

14 Nov 2016 by Aliou M. Dia, Team Leader, Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change, UNDP Africa

Climate change and violent extremism will be two of the major threats to the stability of states and societies in the next decades. In many countries in the continent (Mali, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, etc.) climate change has significantly increased instability by over-stretching the already limited capacity of governments to respond. Boko Haram and Al Shabab threats and attacks in West and East Africa, continued fragility in Central African Republic (CAR) and renewed instability in Burundi and South Sudan are among some of the conflicts that contribute to this fragility cycle. It’s estimated that there have been over 4000 terrorist attacks since 2011 in Africa and 24,000 people killed. Some 2.8 million people are displaced in the Lake Chad Basin alone, and 700,000 Somalis are languishing in refugee camps. Violent extremism is currently devastating economies in the Sahel, Horn of Africa and Lake Chad Basin. For these and other fragile contexts, adding climate change as a ‘threat multiplier and shock accelerator’ triggers further frustration, tension and conflict. It is worth exploring how a changing climate and its impacts on the continent are contributing to exacerbating radicalization on the African continent. … Read more

Despite global climate pledge, indigenous activists are under attack

13 May 2016 by Laurence Klein, Programme Specialist for Indigenous Participation, Latin America and the Caribbean, UNDP

Historically indigenous peoples have assumed an important role in the sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems. Photo: UNDP Venezuela
Indigenous leader Berta Cáceres was the main promoter of the campaign against the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project in Honduras. In 2015, her work won her the Goldman Environmental Prize, the highest international recognition for environmental advocates. On 3 March 2016, her dedication to her people and the environment likely got her killed. In a recent report entitled “How many more?” Global Witness analyzes 116 murders of environmentalists in 2014 and confirms that three-quarters occurred in Latin America. The report states that Honduras is the most dangerous country per capita for environmental activists, with 101 killed between 2010 and 2014. Equally disturbing is that the percentage of indigenous victims like Berta rose to 40 percent in 2015. … Read more

Laws criminalizing drug possession can cause more harm

20 Apr 2016 by Tenu Avafia, Team Leader, Rights, Law and Treatment Access, HIV, Health and Development and Rebecca Schleifer, Consultant, HIV, Human Rights and the Law

Coca farmers in BoliviaCoca farmers sell coca leaves at a market in Villa 14 de Septiembre village in Bolivia. Photo: Carlos Cazalis/Corbis
In many countries, a criminal record, even for a minor offense, can have serious implications. Being convicted of a crime makes you ineligible for certain jobs, social programmes or benefits or from even being able to exercise your right to vote. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has identified illicit drugs and crime as a “severe impediment” to achieving sustainable development. But poorly devised drug control policies can also be harmful to people and societies. … Read more

Securing our societies from the threat of senseless terrorism

11 Apr 2016 by Patrick Keuleers, Director of Governance and Peacebuilding, UNDP

Ten of the eleven countries with over 500 deaths due to violent extremism in 2014 also have the largest number of refugees, migrants, and IDPs. Photo: Central African Republic
Since 2000, we have witnessed a more than ten-fold increase in the number of deaths from violent extremism and terrorism - from 3,329 victims in 2000 to 32,685 in 2014. And the death toll keeps rising. During the first months of 2016, more than 200 terrorist attacks claimed over 2500 victims. These incidents have taken place in all corners of the world and the diversity of countries shows the ubiquity of the challenge. Many attacks have been linked to well-known violent extremist groups, while others were perpetrated by lone wolfs or attributed to ongoing conflicts and civil wars. … Read more

What pushes young people to extremism?

18 Mar 2016 by Mohamed Yahya, Regional Programme Coordinator, UNDP Africa

 Violent extremism poses the single biggest threat to Africa's steady journey to prosperity. In Kenya, a peace building and conflict resolution programme targets youth. Photo: UNDP Kenya
Last April, Mohamed, a carpenter in a fishing town along Kenya's coast, saw a photograph of Suleiman, the second of his five sons, on the evening news. The 24-year-old was among six young men declared dangerous members of al-Shabab, with a bounty on their heads. Less than a year later, Suleiman was among four al-Shabab suspects killed in a reported shootout with the police. Suleiman's father says that growing up, his son was respectful, dynamic, and refused to accept that the circumstances of his birth should condemn him to a life of poverty. The entire family saw Suleiman as their way to a better life. To meet their high expectations, Suleiman concluded he had to leave not only his town, but also Kenya. He planned to become a driver in Saudi Arabia. But to get there, he needed money to pay agents to organize his trip. … Read more

When home is no longer safe: Reporting human rights abuses in Yemen

10 Dec 2015 by Dina El-Mamoun, Chief Technical Advisor, Support to Human Rights Project, UNDP Yemen

A boy in stands near rubble from the conflict in Yemen.UNDP is training NGOs in Yemen to document and report on human rights abuses during the conflict and to provide support to victims. Photo: Ehab Al-Absi/UNDP Yemen
"So close to dying”. This is how Hanan describes events earlier this year, when forces surrounded and stormed her home in Khur Maksar District, Aden, where she lived with her husband, 4-year-old child and niece, aged 16. Later Hanan and her family fled their home due to shelling and because of gas, electricity and water shortages. In this sense, their suffering is typical of stories told by Yemenis throughout the country who describe human rights violations at the hands of the parties to the conflict, which began in March 2015. … Read more

Surviving bad love

25 Nov 2015 by Lei Phyu, Communications & Social Media Analyst, Bureau for External Relations and Advocacy, UNDP

Combatting violence against womenOne in three women worldwide will experience physical or sexual violence at the hands of someone they know. UNDP photo
One in three women worldwide will experience physical or sexual violence at the hands of someone they know in their lifetime. Growing up, I never thought I’d become that one in three. For five years, alcoholism drove my ex-boyfriend’s worsening Jeckyll and Hyde personality. It took me four years to realize this man was abusive from the start. It took another year to get out. Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. This year’s theme is prevention. … Read more