Timely rejuvenation of the African Peer Review Mechanism?

19 Feb 2016 by By David Omozuafoh, Programme Advisor, APRM and Governance Assessment, UNDP Africa

Efforts should be made to include all segments of society in the APRM process. UNDP Photo
Six years before the 2014 Burkina Faso uprising, the country’s African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) report identified “omnipresent weight and domination of the majority, which seems to ‘block’ the democratic system and stifle multiparty politics”. The assessment called on authorities to “provide appropriate responses and solutions to bring about the necessary change”. In South Africa, the 2007 APRM report stated that “xenophobia against other Africans is currently on the rise and should be nipped in the bud.” Dozens of migrants have since lost their lives in attacks. … Read more

The perils of commodity price volatility

12 Feb 2016 by Degol Hailu, Senior Advisor, UNDP and Chinpihoi Kipgen, Research Associate, UNDP

Coal sellers in BurundiWhile a possible option to to compensate for the fall in commodities' prices, cutbacks in public expenditure will hinder progress towards the sustainable development agenda. Photo: Aude Rossignol/UNDP in Burundi
Since 2011, the price of oil has fallen by 51%. Copper, coal and iron ore prices have dropped by 38%, 53% and 67%, respectively. Commodity dependent countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are facing serious fiscal and balance of payment deficits, hindering the progress towards the sustainable development agenda. Our experts consider 5 possible short-term options to compensate for the fall in prices and their drawbacks. … Read more

FGM ban begins a pivotal era for women and girls in The Gambia

05 Feb 2016 by Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje, UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator in The Gambia

Commemorations for the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting are especially significant for The Gambia this year, following the banning and criminalization of FGM/C. UNICEF photo
In November 2015, the practice of Female Genital Mutilation or Cutting (FGM/C) was banned and subsequently criminalized in The Gambia. This marks an important milestone in the country’s journey to end FGM/C and ensure that the fundamental human rights of girls and women are protected and fulfilled. The achievement places The Gambia proudly among 26 other African countries that have banned FGM/C through legislation. And it comes after years of work to raise awareness among individuals and communities, reinforced by intense advocacy with decision and policy makers. As a result, where FGM/C used to be a taboo, the subject is now openly discussed in Gambian homes and communities. … Read more

After conflict, functioning governments are key for peaceful and inclusive societies

20 Jan 2016 by Jairo Acuña - Alfaro, Policy Advisor, Responsive and Accountable Institutions Team, Governance and Peacebuilding, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

Women voting in LibyaWomen voting in Libya. A transparent voting process helps increase the levels of legitimacy and trust from citizens towards their governments. Photo: UNDP Libya
New Year, new goals, new approaches. It is the starting of the implementation and localization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the baseline year against which the 2030 Agenda will measure progress or set-backs. Fragile countries emerging out of conflict will likely be where it is most difficult to implement these goals. But this is also where it will be crucially important. In these countries, citizens are most deprived of basic public services and poverty is most acute. … Read more

Gearing up to avoid a deeper crisis in Burundi

11 Jan 2016 by Bruno Lemarquis, Deputy Director, Crisis Response Unit, UNDP

Young people in BurundiTo overcome the crisis once and for all, we must avoid short-term solutions and focus on youth and the employment of young people. Photo: Aude Rossignol/UNDP Burundi
The situation in Burundi is extremely worrying. The political crisis comes on top of structural development problems, with repercussions in terms of humanitarian needs, social cohesion and the human rights situation, all against a familiar historical backdrop. For the most visible humanitarian manifestation of these issues, look no further than the displaced persons who have left Burundi. Internally displaced people are a lot less conspicuous because they stay in communities where they feel safe. I was in Burundi on mission at the beginning of 2015. Our delegation met with representatives of the government, civil society and development partners. We made a field visit to the south of the country where we inspected a site for displaced people, a clinic, and a food distribution centre. The mission will put the spotlight on Burundi and raise its visibility on the list of humanitarian assistance priorities in the event that the situation deteriorates even further. … Read more

What does the COP21 Paris Agreement mean for Africa?

17 Dec 2015

Deux volontaires plantent un jeune arbre dans une cour d'école à Goma, province du nord Kivu en RD Congo. Photo: MONUSCO/ Sylvain Liechti
On 12 December 2015, delegates from more than 190 nations at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP 21), agreed to the Paris Agreement, an ambitious global plan to tackle climate change. As a next step in implementation, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will convene a high level signing ceremony on 22 April 2016 in New York, USA, and the agreement can only enter into force once it has been ratified by 55 countries, representing at least 55 percent of emissions. But what does this deal mean for Africa? … Read more

Here's to being called Ms. Cookstove for years to come

11 Dec 2015 by Kidanua Abera, Programme Analyst, Energy and Low Carbon Development, UNDP

Members of the Ethiopian government look at cookstove technology on a UNDP-supported experience sharing visit to India. Photo: UNDP Ethiopia
For the past few years, I’ve proudly been referred to in our office as ‘Ms. Cookstove’. I joined UNDP to work on the carbon market, specifically the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) capacity building programme for Eastern and Southern Africa. When people talk about international carbon trading, they usually talk about ‘big’ emitting industries. But in 2010, I learned about the importance of seemingly ‘small’ but equally devastating emitters such as the traditional three-stone open fire cooking method, used by the majority of rural households in Ethiopia. Three billion people across the world use this method of cooking, which not only contributes to serious health problems, but also contributes significant levels of greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere. … Read more

Bashi's journey may signal a bigger refugee crisis to come

28 Oct 2015 by Mohamed Yahya, Regional Programme Coordinator, UNDP Africa

Somali youthYoung Somali men participate in a vocational training and education program in Burao, Somaliland. But as Africa’s population grows, the number of people escaping conflict in countries like Somalia will continue to rise. Photo: UNDP Somalia
Bashi, a young man who fled from conflict in Somalia, is one of many Africans making the journey to Europe for a better life. … Read more

We must address political economy of growth without development in Africa

23 Oct 2015 by Jean-Luc Stalon, Deputy Country Director of UNDP in Mali

Female entrepreneurs in BurundiIn 2014, 26 % of Africans created businesses, compared with 7.4 % in Europe and 13.4 % in the US. Photo: Aude Rossignol / UNDP in Burundi
In Africa, many countries with sustained economic growth continue to display extreme levels of inequality and poverty. Access to higher education, with an overall rate of 7 % of the population, is the lowest in the world. Despite the continent being one of the biggest producers of petroleum and having huge hydropower capacity, 621 million Africans don’t have access to electricity. The risk of a child dying before completing five years of age is still highest in the world — 81 per 1,000 live birth — about seven times higher than that in Europe. Understanding the causes of this paradox is likely to dominate the next decade of policy thinking. … Read more

Geothermal energy, a bet on the future

17 Sep 2015 by Leo Isidro Heileman, Resident Representative, UNDP in Comoros

The Karthala volcano, ComorosThe Karthala volcano, peaking at 2361 metres altitude, is a clean and sustainable energy reservoir, hitherto unexplored. Photo: UNDP Comoros
In the Comoros, a small southwestern island nation in the Indian Ocean, electricity is almost 100 percent from fossil fuels, and the government is struggling to meet the energy needs of the country’s 700,000 inhabitants. For example, the people in the capital Moroni have just over five hours of electricity a day. In the three islands of the archipelago, the rates of access to electricity do not exceed 50 percent which inevitably impacts the economic activities of the country. But there are solutions. Located on the island of Grande Comore (Ngazidja) is the Karthala volcano, a clean and sustainable energy reservoir, unexplored to date. This active volcano – its last eruption was 2007 – rises 2,361 metres above sea level and could shift from a pervasive threat into opportunity for development. … Read more