What contributes to a successful election?

13 Apr 2015 by Ozonnia Ojielo, UNDP regional cluster leader, Governance and Peacebuilding

Voters checking their names on registered voters list in Lagos Nigeria.Africa's most populous nation and biggest economy, Nigeria has surprised the world by conducting largely peaceful elections. Photo: UNDP Nigeria
On 28 March 2015, Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation and biggest economy, surprised the world by organising largely ‘peaceful’ presidential and national assembly elections. Here are some take away lessons … Read more

How can we achieve universal access to water and sanitation?

10 Apr 2015 by Jean-Philippe Bayon, Expert/Coordinator, UNDP-Global Water Solidarity

 Internally displaced people (IDPs) in Bannu, Pakistan gain access to water through a UNDP-supported project. Photo: UNDP/Pakistan
Water is essential for local development, particularly for sectors such as health, agriculture, economic development, education and environment. But too often potential donors work in silo without taking into account the heritage of existing projects or understanding the available expertise on the ground. … Read more

The need to boost youth participation and inclusion in Latin America and the Caribbean

09 Apr 2015 by Jessica Faieta, Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean

 The region has more than 150 million young people between 15 and 29 years but a closer look into LAC parliaments reveals that young people are scarcely represented. Photo: UNDP/El Salvador
Young people in the region have been playing a key role in recent peaceful demonstrations that demand more effective and transparent governments. And they do so not only by taking to the streets but also by playing a role in their own communities and — increasingly — on social networks. … Read more

The political economy of illicit financial flows

09 Apr 2015 by Max Everest-Phillips, Director, Global Centre for Public Service Excellence, Singapore

 Between 1980 and 2009, total illicit financial outflows from Africa grew by 11.9 percent per year. Photo: Carly Learson/UNDP Liberia
Tax evasion has often been the hallmark of the elites. In ancient Rome, the upper class viewed tax as ‘the mark of bondage.’ But the Roman Empire collapsed because the tax on land was largely passed on the poor, and later on the middle classes, while the elite carried less and less of the public financial burden. In this blog series, our experts share their thoughts and lessons learned on key financing for development issues … Read more

If it is not rights-based, it is not real human development

07 Apr 2015 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, Director, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, New York.

  In Mozambique, UNDP is putting an emphasis on human rights in its development work. Photo: UN/Mozambique
Today, as we witness widening inequalities within countries, intensifying competition around scarce natural resources, and the continued exclusion of marginalized groups, national human rights institutions are more relevant than ever. They are the cornerstones of our national systems for the promotion and protection of human rights, essential to sustaining development and successful implementation of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. … Read more

Maintaining HIV health services in the wake of disaster

01 Apr 2015 by Jean Thomas Nouboussi, HIV, Health and Development Team, UNDP Global Fund Programme, Haiti

Commemorating World AIDS Day in Petionville, Haiti. Photo: UNDP/Haiti
In 2010, Haiti suffered an earthquake with devastating consequences.  225,000 people died and 1.5 million people were displaced. There was 10 million cubic meters of debris, 30 of the 49 hospitals in the country were ruined, and 80 percent of schools and 60 percent of the government structures were destroyed.  With very little infrastructure left, the internally displaced people were settled in 1500 camps in the metropolitan areas. What happened to us in Haiti has been referred to as the largest urban disaster in modern history. The humanitarian effort following the earthquake was extraordinary, with much global attention and donor support. However, there was little funding and planning for the HIV response and to address gender-based violence.  These needs had not been integrated into the larger humanitarian work, despite the fact that Haiti has the highest burden of HIV in the Caribbean region. Incidences of rape in the internally displaced camps were high, young people were turning to sex work for economic reasons, and the rates of HIV and TB transmission increased. Haiti had been receiving Global Fund grants since 2003, but the weakened systems and capacities after the earthquake challenged their implementation. UNDP was invited to be the interim Principal … Read more

Fighting corruption: Adapting ‘best practices’ or ensuring a ‘best fit’ to local contexts

20 Mar 2015 by Anne Marie Sloth Carlsen, Director, USPC and Ahjung Lee, Programme and Policy Officer, USPC

 SeoulKorea’s case is particularly interesting because of its rapid economic and social development despite governance challenges such as corruption.
At UNDP’s Seoul Policy Centre for Global Development Partnerships, we often get to hear: “Korea developed so fast. I want to know how this happened, so that I can help my country too”. Policy makers and practitioners in developing countries find Korea’s case particularly interesting because of its rapid economic and social development despite governance challenges such as corruption. At the 2015 Seoul Debates, participants honestly wanted to take practical and immediate solutions home, and found Korea’s innovative tools particularly attractive. Besides the integrity assessment of Korea’s anti-corruption body - conducted by over 600 public organizations in Korea, and now applied in several countries including Bhutan - there was also the electronic subcontract payment system for transparent public infrastructure projects of the Seoul Metropolitan Government. Other countries also shared their experiences, among them Uganda and Columbia. Uganda’s Inspector General of Government shared how her country had exceeded its target of prosecuting 50 cases of corruption per year, and stressed the importance of working with all stakeholders both within and beyond the country. Our colleagues from UNDP Colombia shared a transparency assessment tool that helps political parties manage the integrity of political processes. Yet we deliberately avoided the ‘best practices approach,’ or … Read more

The Human Development Index – what it is and what it is not

10 Mar 2015 by Selim Jahan, Director, Human Development Report Office (HDRO)

Girls in school in PakistanA UNDP project helped construct a girls’ primary school in Panjpai, Pakistan. Photo: UNDP Pakistan
A concept is always broader than any of its proposed measures. Any suggested measure cannot fully capture the richness, the breadth and the depth of the concept itself. This is true of the notion of human development as well. There are two types of measures for human development: The breadth measure, termed Human Development Accounting, encompass all indicators related to human development assessments. The focus measures, or composite indices, concentrates on some basic dimensions of human development. Human Development Accounting is required to make a comprehensive assessment of human development conditions in any society, but it does not provide a single number to synthesize the state of affairs. Composite indicesprovide a single number, but cannot provide a comprehensive picture of the state of human development. Focus measures are extremely good for advocacy, for initiating healthy competition among societies and for raising awareness, but not in providing a comprehensive picture. It is in these perspectives that the Human Development Index (HDI) was constructed. Three things prompted to come up with such a measure: First, The HDI captures these basic dimensions of human development: lead a long and healthy life, to acquire knowledge and to have access to resources needed for a decent … Read more

Whatever you call it, violence against women is never acceptable

07 Mar 2015 by Lucio Valerio Sarandrea, Chief Technical Advisor, Rule of Law, Kyrgyzstan

 Although local activists continue their efforts to stop the tradition of bride kidnapping, more work is needed to make a difference. Photo: UNDP Kyrgyzstan
Along with the beauty of its mountainous landscapes, one of the first things associated with Kyrgyzstan is the cruel phenomenon of bride kidnapping. This ritual involves ambushing a young woman and detaining her until she agrees to marry her kidnapper. I read a lot of sad stories about this practice coming from different countries in Central Asia and Africa, as well as trite justifications based on culture and poor economic conditions. But perhaps the most striking story I’ve heard is the personal account of a young woman I will call Roza. Roza has been kidnapped twice, first at the age of 19, then at 23. In both cases she clearly remembers the applause welcoming the kidnapper when he brought her home. It was as though they were heroes coming back from a victorious battle. She was the spoils. The first time, Roza was taken to a nicely set room and offered tea and plov while her potential mother-in-law praised the virtues of her son – “a hard worker and mild person”. Roza stubbornly refused the marriage. Many other female relatives joined the effort, the discussions eventually becoming very tense with shouting and threats. After a long night, she was eventually allowed … Read more

Gender equality: A human right critical for development progress

06 Mar 2015 by Helen Clark, Administrator, UNDP

women in El SalvadorIn Sonsonate, El Salvador, UNDP promotes women’s economic empowerment as a way of reducing violence. Photo: UNDP El Salvador
This week, the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which remains the world’s best blueprint for achieving gender equality and empowering women. The review of this visionary roadmap, adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995, is an opportunity to celebrate the world’s progress toward ensuring the rights and opportunities of women and girls, and also to renew and reinvigorate commitments to achieve gender equality. One of the great achievements of the Beijing Platform for Action was the clear recognition that women’s rights are human rights. Since that historic gathering in Beijing, when 17,000 participants and 30,000 activists gathered to voice and demonstrate their support for gender equality and women’s empowerment, there has been increasing recognition that gender equality, in addition to being a human right, is also critical to making development progress. If women and girls are not able to fully realize their rights and aspirations in all spheres of life, development will be impeded. Twenty years on, we can see both progress and challenges in the twelve areas of critical concern laid out in the Beijing Platform for Action. Gender parity in … Read more