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

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

Young people are building peace in Colombia

02 Feb 2016 by Karin Andersson, Advisor, Participation and culture of peace, UNDP Colombia

UNDP has supported the actions of more than 10,000 college students from across Colombia to participate in peace talks. Photo: UNDP Colombia
Why have young people embraced the opportunity to lead and participate in the efforts to build peace in Colombia? Perhaps it is because in over sixty years, Colombians haven’t known one day of peace? At a festival for peace last year in the province of Norte de Santander, a young woman told me that “this is a unique opportunity to get to know a country that I’ve never really known, a country in which no one dies because of a war.” Colombia is a country with a unique geography and history that produced a rich cultural diversity. Each region of the country has its own unique cultural and social norms. With this in mind, the ongoing peace talks between the Colombian government and the left wing FARC guerrillas highlight the importance of peace building at the local level. … 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

A new, ambitious vision requires new, ambitious ways of working

14 Jan 2016 by Rosemary Kalapurakal, Incoming UNDP Lead Advisor on the 2030 Agenda, UNDP

people in train stationIndian Railways is the single largest consumer of electricity in India, consuming 17.5 billion units a year. As track and passengers continue to grow, being more energy efficient, and exploring clean sources of energy is central to the Railways vision for the future. Photo: Dhiraj Singh/UNDP India
31 December 2015: During a visit to Kerala, India, I drive past gleaming malls and the skeleton of a new metro in a hometown virtually unrecognizable from my childhood. But I also see stubborn challenges, like the very poor left behind in this economy and the deteriorating quality of air and food. 1 January 2016: A new year begins, with a new era in the quest to combat poverty, inequality, and climate change. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) come into force, part of a “2030 Agenda” for the next 15 years, to achieve development where progress in one sector is not at the expense of another, where present gains do not threaten that of future generations. … Read more

For a young Haitian, hope beyond the earthquake

12 Jan 2016 by Alejandro Pacheco, Strategic Advisor for UNDP in Latin America and the Caribbean

young manOriental was born in a slum area of Port au Prince. Before the earthquake hit, life had already hit him hard. Photo: Raul de la Fuente/Kanaki Films
Oriental Meliance was born in Haiti in 1990. When he was 10 years old, world leaders agreed on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Oriental was among the 2 billion poor worldwide classified as living on less than US$1.25 a day. By the time he turned 25 in 2015, the world had halved the number of poor. These huge numbers eclipse the real faces of people, like Oriental. … 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

Unlocking the potential of youth

07 Jan 2016 by Fadhil Bakeer Markar, Communications Team Lead and Youth Focal Point, UNDP Sri Lanka

kids jumpingYouth participants of UNDP Sri Lanka’s Twinning Schools Programme caught in action whilst doing a music video for the song 'Colours'. Photo: UNDP Sri Lanka
“Children and youth deserve a better future in their own country, not necessarily somewhere else. It is the responsibility of the adults not just to bring children to this world but contribute to creating a socio-political environment that is conducive for their advancement and well-being.” - Professor Siri Hettige, a senior sociology academic at the University of Colombo. We’ve heard the call for more opportunities for young people, the need to engage with them, and the responsibility of adults and institutions. But to me, Hettige misses a key point: the central role of youth themselves in shaping their own present and future. … Read more

Focusing development efforts around the MDGs was not always easy

28 Dec 2015 by Sheila Marnie, Programme Advisor, Sustainable Development Cluster, Istanbul Regional Hub, UNDP

Local officials in UzbekistanLocal officials in Uzbekistan take part in team building exercises. Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan
I remember meeting with partners in the Cabinet of Ministers in 2002-3, working as a poverty reduction consultant. I was advised not to bring up the topic of Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) with government officials, as it would be insulting for them to compare their country with other developing countries. The Government officials were very proud of Uzbekistan’s well-developed health, education, and social protection systems and would not want to be associated with hunger and starving, unprotected children. … Read more

Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always.

10 Dec 2015 by Alejandro Alvarez, Team Leader for Rule of Law, Justice, Security and Human Rights at UNDP

Eleanor RooseveltMrs. Eleanor Roosevelt of the United States holding a Declaration of Human Rights poster in English. [November 1949] Photo: UN Photo
In celebrating 2015 International Human Rights Day, we are invited to reflect on the importance of the freedoms we enjoy and to recommit to supporting the fundamental freedoms of all. UNDP’s work is based on the belief that people experience poverty, deprivation or exclusion not only as a lack of income but also as a lack of education or health care or a lack of dignity and participation in their community. These dimensions of peoples’ lives have been considered so important by governments all around the world that they have recognized them as entitlements, as human rights, both in national and in international law. … Read more