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

7 things we learned in the Western Balkans about tackling displacement

20 Jun 2017 by Susanna Dakash, Youth and Civic Engagement Consultant, UNDP Europe and Central Asia

In the Western Balkans and elsewhere, the refugee crisis is a wake-up call for local governments to better prepare for sudden crises. UNDP photo
In 2015, 900,000 refugees and migrants crossed through Southeast Europe in the largest displacement of people since World War II. Many crossed from Greece to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia on their way to northern Europe. Most towns on that route were taken by surprise. Many didn’t have the doctors, food stocks, waste capacity, or sufficient housing to handle hundreds of thousands of additional people. Their whole approach to planning was suddenly upended. And many refugees ended up staying for months. … Read more

Transformative action to leave no one behind

14 Jun 2017 by Haoliang Xu, Director, Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, UNDP

Woman smilingA pilot strategy to reduce poverty rates among slum dwellers in Bangladesh laid the foundation for a new National Urban Poverty Reduction Programme aimed at improving the lives of 6 million people. Photo: UNDP Bangladesh
We live in a dynamic world, where great progress has been made. Yet the gulf between rich and poor is widening, and the natural world is under ever greater threat. That’s why we need to make development more sustainable and inclusive, as set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its pledge to “leave no one behind”. It means that our interventions have to be transformative. They need to reach large numbers of people and strengthen the institutions and services that underpin both human and environmental well-being. UNDP is fully committed to this vision. Indeed, UNDP Asia-Pacific has been through its own transformation, from traditional donor to development advisor and service provider. Ideas and innovation are now intrinsic to the way we work. We bring together in-house expertise and an extensive network of public and private partners. Thinking and working together allows us to identify solutions to unlock and scale up progress that work across countries at diverse stages of development. UNDP tracks emerging trends in real time and the insights we gain make our support to countries flexible and highly responsive, enabling countries to grasp new opportunities for sustainable development as they arise. … Read more

Harnessing digital technology for legal identity

01 Jun 2017 by Niall McCann, Policy Advisor, Electoral Assistance, UNDP and Lea Zoric, Policy Analyst, Gender and Elections, UNDP

Woman are more likely to lack legal identity, which can prevent them from accessing services or exercising rights, like voting. Photo: Prashanth Vishwanathan/UNDP India
An estimated 1.5 billion people in the world today lack “legal identity”, meaning they do not have access to identification documents such as birth certificates, national ID cards or passports. In short, they cannot prove who they are. Lack of legal identity often results in limited access to basic public services such as education and healthcare, but it also creates a huge obstacle to economic empowerment. People without official identification often struggle to access financial services, such as opening a bank account or obtaining financial benefits. The most affected are marginalized societal groups, such as women and children, indigenous people and ethnic, linguistic or sexual minorities. As a means to tackle this global identity gap, numerous countries, over the last 15 years, have started to introduce comprehensive national identity schemes. … Read more

Innovation for development in Africa: Focus on the public sector

23 May 2017 by Marc Lepage, UNDP Africa regional innovation expert

Innovation in the public sector often occurs as a pressing need arises for a solution that would deliver improved services with tighter budgets, to citizens with increasingly higher expectations. Photo: UNDP Burundi
Over the years there have been many definitions of innovation, which unfortunately left the concept rather belabored. The reality is that it is a journey that governments and public sectors need to undertake – with the aim to change the lives of citizens. For us at UNDP, it is summed up by three principles: 1) No innovation happens in isolation. Innovation exists within a particular context, and is usually prompted and driven by a the ‘need to do better’. 2) Innovation is not high-tech. Innovation is 5% technology and 95% imagination. At a practical level, it is about analysing pressure points and thinking about creative ways of dealing with that. 3) Steal with pride (and learn). In many instances, what constitutes the best knowledge would not be in our immediate or usual environment. It is highly advantageous to venture outside our comfort zone and explore partnerships for improved performance. Innovation in the public sector is not very different from other sectors. It often occurs as a pressing need arises for a solution that would deliver improved services with tighter budgets, to citizens with increasingly higher expectations. … Read more

Not just more, but better – effective financing of the SDGs

22 May 2017 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, Director of the Bureau for Policy and Programme Support.

Photo UN Sylvain Lechti - A woman in Goma greeting the Technical Support Committee of the Peace, Security, and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region. Photo: UN Sylvain Liechti.
The sum needed to achieve the 2030 Agenda is unprecedented. How can governments effectively mobilise and manage money for real development results? … 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

Celebrating indigenous peoples as nature’s stewards

02 May 2017 by Eva Gurria, Programme Analyst, Equator Initiative

undp-pe-environment-indigenous-woman-2017Indigenous lands and waters represent 80 percent of the world’s biodiversity, and indigenous peoples act as effective stewards of these areas. Paola Delgado/UNDP Peru
In recent weeks we’ve marked several milestones for planetary wellbeing. The first was the 47th anniversary of Earth Day, a day where communities around the world gather to bring awareness of the importance of environmental stewardship. The second was the 1st anniversary of the landmark signing of the Paris Agreement, where the world’s governments formally agreed to take urgent action on climate change. The third was the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a declaration that provides a universal framework for the dignity and wellbeing of indigenous peoples everywhere. All three anniversaries are interlinked; there is a growing understanding that indigenous lands and waters represent 80 percent of the world’s biodiversity, that indigenous peoples are effective stewards of these areas, and that these ecologically intact areas of the earth are a vital strategy for tackling climate change. In short, if we are to achieve the Global Goals for sustainable development by 2030, we must recognize, celebrate, advance and safeguard the rights of indigenous peoples to govern their lands and waters. … Read more

Monitoring the implementation of SDG 16 for peaceful, just and inclusive societies

04 Apr 2017 by Jairo Acuña-Alfaro, Policy Advisor, Responsive and Accountable Institutions Team, Governance and Peacebuilding, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP.

Reporting on SDG16 provides an opportunity for governments to monitor their efforts to translate the global agenda into tangible improvements in people’s lives. Photo: UNDP India
Monitoring SDG16 should drive improvements in governance issues that underpin peaceful, just, and inclusive societies and attainment of the 2030 Agenda. … 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