Our Perspective

      • Growth with inclusion, a four-point plan for Africa | Abdoulaye Mar Dieye

        03 Feb 2014

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        Developing agriculture, which employs up to 60 percent of Africa’s workforce (most of it women), can be an effective way to reduce poverty in rural areas. (Photo: UNDP in Burundi)

        Avoiding conflict and reducing poverty in Africa will require sustained efforts to promote inclusive development. First, the continent faces the challenge of building economies that can create jobs and more equal opportunities for all. In many countries, better managing revenues from extractive resources holds the key to economic diversification and investing back into communities through quality infrastructure and social services. In addition, developing agriculture, which employs up to 60 percent of Africa’s workforce (most of it women), can be another effective way to reduce poverty in rural areas, where many marginalized groups live. Second, securing equal political representation for disenfranchised populations is critical to ensuring they can participate in key decisions and enjoy the same levels of development at the national and the local level. When elections take place, political inclusion can also prevent vote-rigging, “winner takes all” politics and electoral violence, while involving youth is particularly important-to-avoid conflict. In Kenya, for example, the principles of equality and non-discrimination are now enshrined in the Constitution, attempting to eliminate the ethnic and regional tensions which fuelled the post-election violence of 2007. Third, countries in Africa must equip themselves with effective national and grassroots mechanisms to build social cohesion and prevent conflict. Such Read More

      • Saving the imperiled Hamouns of Eastern Iran | Gary Lewis

        31 Jan 2014

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        The UNDP-supported Conservation of Iranian Wetlands Project aims to enhance the effectiveness and sustainability of Iran’s system of wetland protected areas as a tool for conserving globally significant biodiversity. Photo: UNDP/Iran

        “Angels will kiss the hands of those who help us,” the man said. The face behind the handshake was grizzled and weathered with  leathery skin that bespoke years of harshness. The fisherman’s eyes welled with suppressed tears. He yearned for a time when his life was one of plenty.  Lakes brimmed with water and fish, his children were happy, and life was good. He wanted me to tell the world about the desperate conditions in Iran’s harshest, poorest region: the Hamoun wetlands of Sistan. “Wetlands” is really not the right word for these parched lands. There is little gainful employment, and more than half the residents get by on welfare delivered through the Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation (IKRF), a parastatal organization.   They were mainly fisher folk, though almost all are now unemployed, living amid the decayed ruins of ghost-like villages built alongside once-thriving lakes. Hamouns comprise three large wetland areas covering 5,660 square kilometers.  Two-thirds of these wetlands are located in Iran, linked and fed by water from Afghanistan’s Helmand River. Twenty years ago, most of this area was green, and the lake teemed with fish. The wetlands also supported agriculture and water buffalo herds, providing a livelihood for thousands Read More

      • A joint endeavor: Reflections on the political feasibility of inequality reduction | Selim Jahan

        31 Jan 2014

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        A Somali woman draws water from a man-made pond dug through a UNDP-supported initiative to bring water to drought-affected communities. (Photo: UNDP Somalia)

        Inequalities have come to occupy center stage in many discussions on development in general and the Post-2015 Agenda in particular. This is not surprising. Deprivation in the midst of plenty remains the daily reality for hundreds of millions of households around the world. And at the same time, a host of economic, social and cultural factors perpetuate the disadvantage experienced by a range of discriminated-against groups – from women to people with disabilities, and from ethnic minorities to people living in rural communities, just to mention some. Despite impressive economic progress, humanity remains deeply divided.   To advance the debate on the causes and effects of inequality as well as ways in which it could be reduced, the UNDP Poverty Practice has produced a report addressing a number of these issues. Among them is the question of the political feasibility of inequality reduction, on which I will focus here. A global survey of 375 policy-makers from 15 countries conducted for the report shows that policy-makers all over the world see the reduction of inequality as a major policy priority. However, as a result of deeply entrenched vested interests, policy-makers are also faced with significant constraints on their ability to address inequality Read More

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