Nature to the rescue: Using ecosystem services to reduce flood risks

12 May 2017 by Saskia Marijnissen, Regional Technical Adviser, Ecosystems and Biodiversity, UNDP Africa

In Sierra Leone, over 3 million people live in increasingly vulnerable coastal areas. Finding innovative and sustainable ways to work together with, rather than against, nature for effective risk reduction is critical. © Tommy Trenchard/ UNEP
From the mouth of the Mississippi to that of the Nile, communities have been drawn to coastal flood plains throughout the centuries. Where rivers and oceans meet, nature is at its best, and river sedimentation provides rich soils that greatly benefit agricultural productivity as well as fisheries. At present, an estimated 60 percent of our global population lives along estuaries and coastlines – making them among the most heavily populated areas of the world. As appealing as coastal areas are, living on a fertile floodplain comes with substantial risks. Floods are the most frequent of all natural disasters globally, and some of the largest disasters have occurred in coastal areas. Think about the devastation done by hurricane Katrina in New Orleans or the dangerous floods which happen every year in Bangladesh. … Read more

Growth without resilience is but the ruin of the economy

10 May 2017 by Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, UNDP Regional Director for Africa

By building resilience into their economies, countries will experience growth and accelerate their move towards double-digit growth.. Photo: Alice Kayibanda/UNDP Rwanda
Many African countries have engaged in medium- or long-term emergence programmes. For the Second International Conference on the Emergence of Africa (ICEA) in Abidjan, we focused specifically on a sample of 13 countries, to explore the issue of emergence more deeply. This sample was fairly representative of the economic and geographical situation in Africa. In studying all 13 sample countries, what struck me most was the typology of emergence paths. The first path is representative of countries such as Rwanda and Côte d’Ivoire, which have experienced significant shocks due to war or political instability and have seen their economic growth fall to its lowest level, but have then resumed rapid progress towards high growth. Behind this rapid recovery is the fact that these countries still had surplus production capacity that had not been destroyed, and they had the intelligence to develop these “excess capacities” to restart growth. They also invested in increasing their productivity and in building the resilience of their institutions. … 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

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

Oceans of fortune, oceans of peril

26 Apr 2017 by Clotilde Goeman, Regional Technical Advisor, Climate Change Adaptation and International Waters

Boats landed on DRC's coast are exacerbating shore erosion by displacing sand from the beach.Boats landed on DRC's coast are exacerbating shore erosion by displacing sand from the beach. Photo: UNDP
On Africa’s West Coast, the ocean is everything. For thousands of years, its bounty has provided food for families, employment for fisher folk, remarkable sunsets that attract tourists, ports that carry goods and build economic resilience, and coastal barriers that buffer the earth, cleanse the ocean and create a more sustainable ecosystem. The ocean is hearth and home. But changes in the climate are resulting in rising sea levels, degraded fish stocks, coastal degradation, and more. Making this both an ocean of fortune and an ocean of peril. The west coast of Africa represents a major source of revenues for its communities. In some countries, like Senegal, 66 percent of the population live in coastal areas. … Read more

Co-creating partnerships to achieve the Global Goals

16 Mar 2017 by Juergen Nagler, UNDP Regional Partnership Advisor for Africa

UNDP partners and stakeholders develop strategic initiatives by consulting with youth, scholars and people working on key development issues. Photo: UNDP
With the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) having significantly raised the bar regarding ambition and universality, there is agreement that we have to go well beyond business as usual. Achieving breakthrough progress in these rapidly-changing times requires a new mind-set and different behavior from all of us. "The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to act with yesterday's logic", said Management Educator, Peter Drucker. Are we ready to step up our logic? What role can each of us play to realize the future we want? As a neutral broker, UNDP increasingly takes innovative approaches to coordinating, coordinating, connecting and co-creating with partners, globally and locally. We live in transformational times with dynamics reinforced by globalization and technological progress causing threats and opportunities on an unprecedented scale. Within this context, multilateral processes are of critical importance for dialogue and coordination to overcome fragmentation and duplication. As UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated, “coordination [is] a permanent must: a results-focused, people-centered and delivery-oriented coordination.” … Read more

A father’s pledge – for my daughters and every daughter

08 Mar 2017 by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, UNDP Goodwill Ambassador

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau referees the Global Goals World Cup in KenyaUNDP Goodwill Ambassador Nikolaj Coster-Waldau referees the Global Goals World Cup women's football tournament in Nairobi. Photo: UNDP Kenya
I just returned from Kenya, where I refereed the Global Goals World Cup. The international soccer tournament brought together everyday women and girls to play for the Global Goals that matter to them most, including gender equality and ending poverty. It was a phenomenal experience! But equally impressive was my opportunity to see first-hand the great work that UNDP is doing creating greater opportunities for women and girls. I met women whose stories of improving their livelihoods and their communities amazed and inspired me. If you’re like me, you draw inspiration from stories of real people who are actively working to build better futures for themselves and for the world. I think that’s something we all share. As a father and husband, I’m passionate about advocating for issues that matter to me personally. I want a clean, safe, prosperous planet for my daughters to grow up in. I want them to live in a world that enables them to pursue their desires, maximize their potential, and strengthen those around them. One that doesn’t hold them back or dash their hopes because of their gender. … Read more

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

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