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

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

2030 Agenda demands meaningful participation from persons with disabilities

02 Dec 2016 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, UN Assistant Secretary General and Director of UNDP’s Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

In Cambodia, UNDP works with UNICEF and WHO to support national efforts to coordinate and implement the National Disability Strategic Plan as well as to strengthen capacities of Cambodian Disabled Persons Organizations. Photo:Bona K/ UNICEF Cambodia
It has been 10 years since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) by the UN General Assembly in December 2006, and we are close to universal ratification of the treaty. This is a great achievement that recognizes the move from a charitable and medical approach to a human rights-based approach, ensuring an inclusive and accessible development for all. The second decade of implementation of the CRPD will happen within, and will be amplified by, the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted in 2015. The SDGs are universal, they are ambitious and they ensure that we leave no one behind. Progress has been made to reach with rights, technology, social protection, science, affirmative action and awareness those of our friends, family members and fellow citizens who live with a disability. So as we focus on supporting countries to achieve the SDGs, what will achieving the different goals and targets mean for persons with disabilities? For starters, we are talking about a very large group of citizens: 15 percent of the world’s population live with a disability – more than the peoples of the European Union, Russia and the United States together. In developing countries, three out of four are women, which also demands a gender analysis of causes and a robust engendered suite of interventions. What could these be? … Read more

#inno4dev in Iraq: Doing more, lots more, with less

30 Nov 2016 by Jennifer Colville, Team Leader, Innovation, UNDP Arab States

The #inno4dev programme provides hands-on learning events for hundreds of budding entrepreneurs and promotes a sense of social cohesion among youth from all parts of Iraq. Photo:UNDP
Innovation is alive and well in Iraq as evidenced by the energy, creativity and "grit" of the 175 young entrepreneurs I had the privilege of spending four days with in an #inno4dev (innovation for development) workshop in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq last weekend. The workshop is part of a UNDP Iraq multi-year #inno4dev programme that promotes innovative approaches to solving development challenges. These 175 youths were selected from among 500 women and men who participated in six #inno4dev gatherings earlier this year. At the workshop, they were put through their paces, learning about approaches and tools, such as design thinking, lean startup, and business model canvas, as they developed ideas for ventures ranging from a health data surveillance system to educational zones for kids. From these, about two dozen teams will be selected to participate in an #inno4dev forum in the first quarter of 2017, where they will have an opportunity to pitch their ideas to potential investors. So, how does the UNDP #inno4dev team, a team of one, manage these activities with all these moving parts: hundreds of youth coming from all around the country, speaking different languages, having different skills and levels of experience, with different areas of interest? Innovatively, of course. … Read more

Decarbonizing development

22 Nov 2016 by Kishan Khoday, Team Leader, Climate Change, DRR and Resilience, UNDP Regional Hub for Arab States

The Union Cement Company plant in United Arab Emirates uses a waste heat recovery system to generate 82 MWh of zero-emission electricity per year. UNDP photo
The Paris Agreement on climate change entered into force this month, following its rapid ratification by countries around the world. The Agreement has the goal of keeping global temperatures below a 2 degree Celsius rise relative to pre-industrial levels. This would avoid the worst effects of climate change, as rising greenhouse gas emissions jeopardize achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, threatening to exacerbate disasters, poverty and inequality the world over. The latest Assessment Report (AR5) issued by the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlights that to keep the planet within the 2 degree Celsius target, we must cut global emissions in half by 2050 and achieve zero net emissions by 2100. This entails a major change of course, with new zero-carbon models of development a key part of the action agenda. Energy consumption accounts for two-thirds of global emissions, so the goal of decarbonizing development hinges on reducing the energy intensity of growth, especially in countries with high carbon footprints. Morocco, host of the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) to the UN climate change convention, is emerging as a leader in climate action. This year it launched the first phase of its Noor solar power plant. When fully operational this will be the world’s largest concentrated solar power (CSP) facility. … Read more

The nexus of climate change and conflict in the Arab region

12 Oct 2016 by Kishan Khoday, Regional Team Leader, Climate Change, DRR and Resilience, UNDP Regional Hub for Arab States

Conflict and climate change are major drivers of displacement in Syria and elsewhere in the Arab region. UNHCR photo
Alongside the daily barrage of rockets and gunfire facing the Arab region is a more insidious but perhaps no less important foe – climate change. Climate change and conflict both have serious consequences and their convergence, particularly in fragile states, that has now arisen as a major concern. Leading UNDP’s climate change action in the Arab region, I see first-hand how this convergence is creating new forms of social vulnerability and reshaping the prospects for peace. The Arab region was the birthplace of agricultural civilization and for thousands of years has been able to cope with risks from climatic hazards. But climate change is now happening at a pace unlike anything before, stretching the ability of societies and governments to cope. The evidence shows that the region may well be in the midst of a 25-year climate change-induced mega drought, equal in strength only to historic droughts one thousand years ago that led to major civilizational shifts. Already the world’s most water insecure region, climate change is expected to see temperatures rise faster here than the global average, making parts of the region uninhabitable by mid-century. Unless actions are taken, impacts will be felt in loss of agricultural livelihoods, high unemployment, mass displacement, and resource conflicts. … Read more

Unleashing the entrepreneur spirit for economic growth in Jordan: Let me count the ways

24 Aug 2016 by Jennifer Colville, Team Leader, Innovation, UNDP Arab States

UNDP sees entrepreneurship as a central driver of economic stability and supports initiatives that tap into local skills. Photo: UNDP Jordan
There's nothing quite like having a bunch of entrepreneurs in the same room to generate off-the-charts energy and inspiration for economic development and social progress. I was fortunate to host a social innovation workshop in Amman, Jordan, with a collection of business starters and supporters to generate ideas for strengthening the entrepreneur ecosystem in the country. The workshop was held on the occasion of the visit to Jordan of the UN Foundation's Global Entrepreneurs Council (GEC), a group of eight luminaries from around the world who support those creative and bold enough to start new businesses. The Council, chaired by Ashish Thakkar, was in Jordan … Read more

4 lessons learned fighting tuberculosis in Syria

05 Aug 2016 by Håkan Björkman, Manager, UNDP Global Fund Partnership

Lessons LearnedTuberculosis patients displaced by conflict may lose access to health services, causing an interruption in treatment that increases their risk of developing multi-drug resistant strains of TB. Photo: UNDP Syria
Tuberculosis thrives on war and suffering. In theory, Syria offers the perfect breeding grounds for the disease. A lack of access to adequate medical services and poor and crowded housing conditions have created conditions ripe for the spread of tuberculosis. Yet, TB has been largely kept in check. Some 3,479 people were placed on treatment in 2015, a 150 percent increase compared with 2013. The TB treatment success rate has also been maintained at 80 percent during the conflict. UNDP has been supporting Syria to tackle TB since 2007, in partnership with the Global Fund. The onset of war in 2011 made this highly complex and has required a range of innovative approaches. … Read more

In high-risk areas, UNDP-Japan partnership delivers on human security

26 May 2016 by Mitsuaki Mizuno, Special Advisor, Japan Unit, Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy, UNDP

The Tokyo League uses sports to encourage Palestinian youth in the face of conflict and other hardships. Japanese Ambassador for Palestinian Affairs Takeshi Okubo attended the Tokyo League table tennis championships in Gaza. The league uses sports to encourage Palestinian youth in the face of conflict and other hardships. Photo: Shareef Sarhan/UNDP PAPP
I’ll never forget watching the final match of the Tokyo League volleyball tournament. It was heart-warming to see the students, wearing their scarves known as Hijab, playing the game with delight, their eyes shining with joy. It seemed like a memorable experience also for the team, who have no opportunity to explore the world beyond the wall. As you might have guessed by now, the Tokyo League doesn’t play in Japan. The league, which began as an initiative of the Japanese Ambassador for Palestinian Affairs, Takeshi Okubo, competes 9,000 miles away in Gaza. … Read more

Managing the refuse of the refused

03 Feb 2016 by Alper K. Doğan, Chief Technical Consultant of Mitigating the Impact of Syrian Crises on Southeast Anatolia Region Project - UNDP

waste management in TurkeyLooking at current waste management practices in the town of Elbeyli, Turkey. Photo: Alpert K. Doğan
Imagine yourself as the mayor of a small border province in Southeastern Anatolia five years ago. It is a big day for you. After years of petitions, meetings, and a heavy financial burden you are about to open a sanitary landfill site to serve your community for at least 25 years. You and your team are proud to make a lasting contribution both to the community and environment. You are reading about the events in neighboring Syria but hopeful that the conflict will end soon. Your heart is with them, as you think maybe of the distant relatives of yours living in Aleppo. Then refugees begin to arrive. First in a trickle, then a flow. Camps are erected, and you do your best to fulfill basic needs and cooperate with relevant government offices. You feel a little bit tired, but satisfied knowing that you’re helping out a neighbour in need. … Read more