Five years on, Haiti builds back better

12 Jan 2015 by Sophie de Caen, Senior Country Director, UNDP Haiti

(Photo: UNDP/Haiti)
Five years after the earthquake that devastated the country, Haiti celebrates major development gains while acknowledging that immense challenges still remain. In spite of the political and structural fragility, social and economic progress is evident. Like many countries, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have galvanized positive action in Haiti. The country has steadily boosted the net enrollment rate in primary education from 47 percent in 1993 to 88 percent in 2011 and achieved equal participation of boys and girls. The number of underweight children under five years old has been halved, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS has stabilized, and nearly 70 percent of households now have access to an improved source of water. Clearly, however, much remains to be done. Six million Haitians (60 percent of the population) still live on less than $2.50 a day. And while women head almost 50 percent of households, they hold only 4 percent of parliamentary seats. Deforestation and the loss of biodiversity are also continuing challenges, and the condition of poor urban slums, which house at least 62 percent of city dwellers, remains worrisome. Yet, despite these challenges, Haiti’s progress must be commended. First, this progress takes place in spite of the devastating 2010 earthquake … Read more

Ebola: Recovery needs to start now

05 Jan 2015 by Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, Assistant Administrator and Director, Regional Bureau for Africa

ebola worker dressingA worker poses for the camera at a dressing station in Freetown, Sierra Leone. (Photo: Lesley Wright/UNDP)
The social and economic impact of the Ebola crisis will be felt up to a decade after the disease has been eradicated. In Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, virtually every sector has suffered as a result of the epidemic. For example, based on UNDP’s most recent estimates, Liberia could experience negative GDP growth for the first time since the war ended 11 years ago, reaching -1.8 percent.   In all three countries, air traffic is down, mining and palm oil concessions have been badly affected, and so have farming and small trade, crippled by quarantines and movement restrictions. Because national economies are coming to a standstill, the crisis is impairing the ability of governments to raise taxes and invest in infrastructure and social services. For instance, more than 800,000 women will give birth during the next 12 months. But with the severe shortage of health facilities and professionals, compounded by the fear of getting infected in a clinic, many could die without proper care. Five million children are out of school because their classes have shut down. Whereas life before Ebola was starting to improve, people are now struggling again with uncertainty. Besides the personal loss and the stigma, the immense … Read more

Will Cinderella be at the 2015 Development Ball?

19 Dec 2014 by Max Everest-Phillips, Director, UNDP Global Centre for Public Service Excellence

woman and child in Darfur clinicA mother and child visit a doctor at Kalma IDP camp in South Darfur. Public service officials must be given a voice if the post-2015 agenda is to be realized. Photo: Albert Gonzalez Farran/UNAMID
It’s that season again.  Artificially orchestrated good cheer generating excessive consumption followed by a bad headache – and that’s just fiscal policy.  Then at New Year widespread indulgence in resolutions that won’t be kept. It is enough to make anyone a bit gloomy. But, as ever, missing from the dance floor will be the least understood and most under-appreciated people in the whole development enterprise – those dedicated public officials who actually do most of the work.  These unacknowledged heroes who delivered the MDGs, and who will be the rock-bed for implementing the SDGs in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, are  struggling every day to deal with contradictory political instructions and irreconcilable directives, to ‘do more with less’. The morale of public officials almost everywhere around the world has been in decline for thirty years. Derided for decades for lacking the private sector dynamism, these same officials are being told to ensure that public institutions be inclusive, participatory, and accountable; that laws and institutions protect human rights and fundamental freedoms; that everyone be free from fear and violence, without discrimination; that democratic, free, safe, and peaceful societies provide access to fair justice systems, combat corruption and curb illicit financial flows, and the … Read more

Lessons from the past help to prepare for the future

19 Dec 2014 by Haoliang Xu

Tsunami evacuation drillWe have seen that involving communities in the recovery process brings special commitment and speeds up recovery. UNDP Photo
In China there is an old proverb that goes: “If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people.” Helping countries better deal with disasters has long been part of our mandate. But that objective took on new urgency following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Since then we have worked closely with governments in Asia and the Pacific to try to better protect communities, and provide those at risk with early warnings about approaching disasters. We have drawn on our  experience and encouraged South-South cooperation, for example, by facilitating a visit of experts from the Indonesian government – who managed the Banda Aceh reconstruction – to the Philippines so they could share expertise and ideas. These types of exchanges, support, training, and education have had an impact. Most recently, in the case of Typhoon Hagupit (Ruby) - while not as strong as Haiyan – preparedness and planning was reported to have played a vital role in saving lives, when the typhoon made multiple landfalls on the East coast of the Philippines. In recent years we have witnessed, when cyclones and storm surges have hit- … Read more

How to finance the Post-2015 Development Agenda?

19 Dec 2014 by Gail Hurley, Policy Specialist, Development Finance

 Benoit Almeras-Martino/UNDP DRC
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are much more ambitious than their predecessor. Much more financing – public and private, domestic and external – will clearly need to be mobilized. In this blog series, our experts share their thoughts on key financing for development issues … Read more

Climate change and inequalities: How will this impact women?

15 Dec 2014 by Susan McDade, Deputy Director, Latin America and the Caribbean

Waorani woman cultivating Women are key drivers of sustainable development. (Photo: UNDP)
Of all the impacts of climate change, from rising sea levels to landslides and flooding, one does not get the attention it deserves: exacerbation of inequalities, particularly for women. In poor countries, women’s lives are often directly dependent on the natural environment. Women bear the main responsibility for supplying water and firewood for cooking and heating, as well as growing food. Drought, uncertain rainfall and deforestation make these tasks more time-consuming and arduous, threaten women’s livelihoods and deprive them of time to learn skills, earn money and participate in community life. But the same societal roles that make women more vulnerable to environmental challenges also make them key actors for driving sustainable development. Their knowledge and experience can make natural resource management and climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies at all levels more successful. Just look to Ecuadorian Amazon, where the Waorani women association (Asociación de Mujeres Waorani de la Amazonia Ecuatoriana) is promoting organic cocoa cultivation as a wildlife protection measure and a pathway to local sustainable development. With our support, the association is managing its land collectively and working toward zero deforestation, the protection of vulnerable wildlife species and the production of certified organic chocolate. In the process, women … Read more

Is a world without poverty possible?

12 Dec 2014 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, Director, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

Child in DR Congo (Photo: Benoit Almeras-Martino/UNDP in DR Congo)
We all know the world has reached the Millennium Development Goal target of halving the proportion of people living on less than $1.25 a day five years ahead of the 2015 deadline. However, China, India, Brazil, Mexico and the prosperous rise of some African nations contrast with the rest of Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, with close to half of its population still extremely poor. We need to understand why close to one billion people have been left out of the process. While there are multiple reasons, there are two that require our utmost attention: exclusion and vulnerability to shocks. To eradicate this kind of poverty we need to deal with what I call the challenge of reaching “the last mile” or the suggestion of “Getting Down to Zero.” The last mile exists both in remote rural areas, as well within cities – where the mile is figurative. People also remain poor, or are thrown back into poverty, because of conflicts, natural disasters, or some other shocks which families and communities are just unable to cope with. We can think of the current Ebola outbreak which will erase the gains of peace and development for a generation or more, if we … Read more

Collaboration must be at the heart of climate action and sustainable development

12 Dec 2014 by Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator

 UNDO UNDP Administrator Helen Clark visits a fair organized by the Small Grants Programme of the Global Environment Facility and UNDP at the COP20 in Lima, Peru. (Photo: UNDP/Peru)
We have unprecedented opportunities – now and in 2015 – to strengthen co-operation on tackling climate change. On the one hand current climate change talks in Lima should advance negotiations on the new global climate deal, to be agreed in Paris at the end of 2015. On the other hand, discussions are currently taking place at the UN in New York for a “post-2015” development agenda, in which tackling environmental degradation will be prominent. Also, at Sendai in Japan next March, the UN 3rd World Conference on Disaster Reduction will address issues directly related to adaptation to climate change. These are crucial opportunities, since climate change poses a pressing challenge for advancing poverty reduction in developing countries. Also, the most recent report by the international scientific advisory panel on climate change, known as the IPCC, reminds us that the poorest and most vulnerable people bear the brunt of the impacts of climate change. Meeting this challenge head on will require collaboration across the public and private sectors and the full engagement of civil society and indigenous peoples. From my work as Administrator of UNDP, an organization which supports more than 140 countries to design and implement their own solutions to climate … Read more

Drop, cover and hold on: Earthquake training in Turkey

11 Dec 2014 by Cherie Hart, Regional Communications Adviser, Regional Centre, Istanbul

Trainee tries to survive the earthquake simulatorPhoto credit: Cherie Hart/UNDP
Turkey has 56 earthquakes a day. Fortunately, most are only felt by extremely fine-tuned seismic sensors.   Scientists predict that Istanbul, which sits on the Anatolian fault line, is due for a major earthquake in the next 30 – 50 years, which could kill or injure tens of thousands of people. Our security office takes this information very seriously, and I recently took a staff training course to learn some practical Do’s and Don’ts during an earthquake: Do not: run out of a building while the shaking is going on Do: Drop low, Cover your head and neck and Hold on to something stable Do not: jump out of a window or off a balcony Do not: stand in a doorway. Doors don’t protect you from falling debris as well as a table or desk I’m sad to report I failed the test. I didn’t drop low enough to my knees or adequately cover my head and neck. However, I did remember to hold on tight to the desk. That part was easy. While the training was both fun and informative, I was also reminded of the importance of being prepared for the unexpected – and how hands-on disaster preparedness trainings … Read more

Breaking the corruption chain is our collective responsibility

09 Dec 2014 by Patrick Keuleers, Director/Chief, Governance and Peacebuilding

Indian woman and childrenIn India, UNDP and the Ministry of Law and Justice reach more than two million people and informed them of their rights in an effort to enable equitable access to justice for all. Photo credit: Shubhangi Singh/UNDP India
When corruption is rampant, some of us might think that the magnitude and complexity of the situation is hopeless. At the same time, making governments more open, accountable, and responsive to citizens is not a choice, but a responsibility which lies with each and every one of us. To “break the corruption chain” and encourage turning this fight into a global movement, we, at UNDP and at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) have launched a global campaign  to commemorate the 2014 International Anti-corruption Day.   The message is simple: “Taking back what was lost to corrupt practices is everyone’s responsibility”. It is the responsibility of our governments and civil society organizations, of the private sector and the media, the general public, and of the youth, who must play a pivotal role in seeing this agenda through so that their future is built on solid and honest foundations. There are compelling reasons why everyone should have a stake in fighting corruption. Corruption is impeding the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).  When public money is stolen for private use, fewer resources are allocated to building schools, hospitals, roads and water treatment facilities. Corruption also enables fake or … Read more