Our Perspective

      • Energy and development: Did you cook your coffee with wood or with charcoal today? | Mina Weydahl

        09 Oct 2013

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        Christine Kyomugasho, 67, cooks using bio gas at her home in Uganda. (Photo: Matthias Mugisha/UNDP Uganda)

        With few exceptions, all of us engage in some sort of cooking every day, in various ways, and sometimes with varying success. Some of us cook with an electric stove, some with gas stoves, some cook outside, some inside. 2.7 billion people across the world cook with traditional stoves and with wood, charcoal and other so-called “traditional fuels.” Cooking with wood or charcoal is a bit more challenging than cooking with gas or electricity. First of all, it’s trickier to get – whether I buy wood or charcoal at the market or I actually go to the forest and get the wood myself, it takes a lot longer than turning on a gas flame or an electric stove. In the state of Himachal Pradesh in India, for example, rural women typically spend 40 hours collecting fuel every month, many of them walking more than 6 kilometers round trip. Secondly, traditional fuel is a lot heavier – a family cooking with wood will use, on average, 2400 kilograms per year. This can contribute to deforestation in areas where wood is the only affordable and available option. Thirdly, wood and charcoal produce more smoke than a gas or electric stove, depending on what Read More

      • Bosnia and Herzegovina: The war in people's minds | Amir Kulaglic

        04 Oct 2013

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        Kulaglic shows his escape route from Srebrenica, which involved walking through the woods for seven days and nights. (Photo: Sigrid Lupieri/UNDP)

        I was born in Srebrenica, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and have lived there all my life. There were always tensions between Serbs and the Bosnian Muslim minority, but I couldn't quite believe there would ever be a war. I was mistaken. In 1992, [when the conflict started] many members of the Bosnian community fled into the woods. But I had a frail, elderly grandfather, an aging father, and my mother and step-father refused to leave their homes — so I stayed with my family. In May, they shot my father. He was a fragile man with a walking stick and not a threat to anyone. As the conflict intensified, tens of thousands of displaced people from around Srebrenica came to the city seeking shelter. In 1993, the UN Security Council declared the city a weapon-free haven. Despite this, after the fall of Srebrenica in July 1995, men and boys fled from the city, which was surrounded by the military. Through a systematic effort by Serb forces in Bosnia, more than 8,000 boys and men between the ages of 14 and 75 were murdered. I managed to escape into the woods and reach a safe area in Tuzla, after walking for seven Read More

      • Guatemala: Proud to be a Mayan | Juan de Dios

        04 Oct 2013

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        Victims' memorial museum in Guatemala City. Photo: UNDP Guatemala

        I am a Mayan from Guatemala. Though I am proud to be an indigenous person, discrimination against us is a serious problem. Especially in the private sector and in the government, we rarely reach high-level positions and are often seen as a source of cheap labour. I come from a family of people who were displaced by conflict. When I was nine or 10 years old, my father was persecuted and tortured by the military during Guatemala’s civil war, which lasted between 1960 and 1996 and destroyed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom were indigenous Mayans. During the war, 45,000 Mayans were abducted by security forces and “disappeared,” 200,000 families were displaced and 2.5 million children became orphans. After my father was tortured, my family, including my seven brothers and sisters, was forced to move to a new region. However, our troubles were not over. We were thrown out of our new home once again because the government planned to build a hydroelectric plant. When we resisted leaving our homes, the government labeled us enemies of the State and began organizing massacres of women, children and newborns, which nearly wiped out our communities in 1981 and Read More

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