Early recovery in Haiti: Localize the relief effort to avoid the aid dependency trap

04 Nov 2016 by Bruno Lemarquis, Deputy Director, Crisis Response Unit, UNDP

A crisis response led by the Haitian people and government lowers the risk of vulnerable people becoming dependent on international assistance. Photo: Andrea Ruffini/UNDP Haiti
Exactly one month ago, Hurricane Matthew wreaked havoc in Haiti. More than 1.4 million people still need assistance; more than 140,000 people have been displaced and in some areas crops were completely wiped out. The disaster has left people living in makeshift shelters, unable to provide for their families and dependent on assistance. After the first few initial critical weeks of the disaster, two lessons stand out: the need to localize crisis response and the importance of a quick transition to early recovery. I led UNDP’s immediate response after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and I can see that the Government has built on many lessons learned. National institutions have insisted that this should be a Haiti-led response, from the local to the national level, and interim President Jocelerme Privert made clear from the start that early recovery was a priority. a … Read more

A changing climate throws water out of balance in Asia and the Pacific

03 Nov 2016 by Gordon Johnson, Resilience and Sustainability Team Leader, UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub

With a warming climate in parts of the Himalayas, melting glaciers are feeding into glacial lakes that threaten to burst at the seams. UNDP photo
Every morning I jump on the Chao Phraya Express Boat to get to work. It’s a short trip, but on yet another sultry morning in Bangkok, it’s nice to feel the breeze as we slice through the muddy waters to Thewet Pier, a short walk from my office at the United Nations. As we churn upriver, I’m often reminded of the suggestion that our planet should have been named Water instead of Earth. Nowhere is this idea more true than in Asia and the Pacific. While some 4.5 billion people make their homes on solid ground here – about 60 percent of the world’s population – it’s also home to the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean and dozens of major river basins (such as the Indus, Ganges, Mekong and Yangtze) that gave rise to the varied and colourful cultures of Asia. … Read more

Now is the time to climate proof Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19 Oct 2016 by Armen Grigoryan, Team Leader, Disaster Risk Reduction, UNDP Europe and Central Asia

Only 40 cents in every US$100 spent on aid goes to disaster risk reduction, yet disasters have cost developing countries a total of US$1 trillion over the last 20 years. UNDP Photo
In this blog series, UNDP experts share their perspectives in the lead-up to the next climate summit, COP22, taking place in November in Marrakech, Morocco. Two years ago I remember watching catastrophic rains swallow entire swathes of land in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Serbia. Most of northern Bosnia was flooded. Thousands of people lost their homes. And in Serbia, the damage was estimated at 1.5 billion euros. The following year, it was Albania’s turn, then Tajikistan followed suit with the worst mud flows the country has ever seen. Finally, this summer, a thunderstorm dropped 93 litres of rain for every square metre of the capital, Skopje, within the space of a single night. homes. And in Serbia, the damage was estimated at 1.5 billion euros. The following year, it was Albania’s turn, then Tajikistan followed suit with the worst mud flows the country has ever seen. Finally, this summer, a thunderstorm dropped 93 litres of rain for every square metre of the capital, Skopje, within the space of a single night. Whether we are talking about drought, failing crops, rising temperatures or the resurgence or appearance of new diseases, the list of possible climate catastrophes is long. … Read more

Cyclone Roanu is a reminder: We must focus on preventing crises, even as we respond to them

24 May 2016 by Khurshid Alam, Assistant Country Director, UNDP Bangladesh

As leaders gather for the World Humanitarian Summit, Cyclone Roanu has displaced half a million people in Bangladesh. Photo: UNDP Bangladesh
As the World Humanitarian Summit unfolds and leaders discuss the humanitarian impact of rising crises and disasters, half a million people are currently displaced in Bangladesh. Cyclone Roanu pummeled the Bangladesh coastline on 21 May with 55mph winds and floodwaters several feet high. Making landfall in the country’s southeast, the cyclone brought devastation to areas unaffected by cyclones for the past 25 years. Where there used to be crops there is now salt water – the sea surrounding even the cyclone shelter. … Read more

Making airports fit for emergencies

27 Jan 2016 by Uthira Ravikumar, Programme Analyst, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction, UNDP

 Workers perform a GARD simulation at Rafic Harriri Airport in Lebanon. Photo: UNDP Lebanon
In March 2015, two major earthquakes hit Nepal, requiring a fast and vast humanitarian response. But authorities were forced to close the only international airport that could accommodate large aircraft, as its runway was deteriorating under the weight of the large planes. Delays ensued in the arrival of both relief goods and personnel. Nepal’s situation is not unique. During major disasters, authorities and relief suppliers often face serious delays due to the strain on capacities, leaving relief supplies piling up or emergency materials and personnel held up at customs. Managing the logistics of large scale disaster response is a complex operation. It involves military and civil agencies leading an effort that includes dozens or even hundreds of stakeholders. … Read more

As glacial lakes flood, the effect can be devastating

13 Oct 2015 by Rajeev Issar, Policy Specialist, Disaster & Climate Risk Governance, UNDP

glacier lakeTsho Rolpa Glacial Lake in Gaurishankar VDC, Dolakha district, Nepal. Photo: Deepak KC/UNDP Nepal
In this blog series, UNDP experts and practitioners share their perspective on issues of climate change, in the lead up to COP21 climate conference in December. Golf, yes. But GLOF? What is that? The increasingly apparent impacts of climate change have introduced this new term—an abbreviation for “glacial lake outburst flood”—to the world’s vocabulary. When glaciers melt, they sometimes form lakes on mountaintops. The water in these glacial lakes accumulates behind loose “dams” made of ice, sand, pebbles and ice residue. But these dams are inherently unstable and avalanches, falling boulders, earthquakes, or even simply the accumulation of too much water can unleash sudden, potentially disastrous floods in nearby communities. … Read more

Wading through the facts: Lessons from the Georgia flood

01 Jul 2015 by Shombi Sharp, Deputy Resident Representative, UNDP Georgia

Flood recovery operations brought together the government, civil society, international organizations and volunteers. But with the sense of solidarity comes an understanding that disaster management systems must be strengthened. Photo: David Khizanishvili/UNDP
It’s still hard to believe what happened. In just four days, the death toll has reached 19 with a handful still missing, hundreds left homeless, an entire zoo simply washed away. In those first hours, I, like so many others, marvelled at the torrential rain coming down with surprising fury. Driving home through streets already beginning to flood, how could I know the devastation was already underway? … Read more

Costing crises and pricing risk: delivering on ‘sustainability’

15 Jun 2015 by Jan Kellett, Advisor Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction

Ebola worker in Sierra LeoneThe cost to the Ebola-affected countries has been pitched at US$1.6 billion, equivalent to 12% of their combined GDP. Photo: UNDP in Sierra Leone
Earthquakes. Cyclones. Drought. Conflict. The Ebola outbreak. Oil price collapses. Shocks and stresses of different kinds strain countries, communities and families and set back development, sometimes for decades. In this blog series, our experts share their thoughts on key financing for development issues. … Read more

"My legs started shaking uncontrollably, and suddenly I fell."

29 May 2015 by Ugo Blanco, Regional Advisor for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, UNDP

woman holds babyThe destruction in rural areas affected by the earthquake is severe. Basic services have been affected, and families with babies have difficulty responding to the health needs and housing. Photo: Ugo Blanco / UNDP
Only weeks after the terrible earthquake that devastated Nepal, I was with a team of engineers working with families from the Sindhupalchock district, a rural area in the centre of Nepal where barely a house was left standing. As a UNDP regional crisis adviser, I was focused on the job at hand -- but fate had other plans. Another quake hit. … Read more

Seeing disaster risk first hand in Nepal

12 May 2015 by Rajesh Sharma, Programme Specialist, Disaster Risk Information and Application, UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub

Damaged roads in Bhaktapur, Kathmandu Valley following the 25 April earthquakeRoads are damaged in Bhaktapur, Kathmandu Valley following the 25 April earthquake. Photo: Laxmi Prasad Ngakhus / UNDP Nepal
On the morning of Saturday, 25 April I was at a restaurant in Kathmandu when I felt a mild vibration of the floor similar to the one felt by the movement of a heavy vehicle. Before I could make out what it was, the vibrations became intense and the waiter just ran out. All of this happened in a very short time, without any early warning. … Read more