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 whatRead More

      • Africa's mineral wealth can be a springboard for development | A. mar Dieye

        04 Oct 2013

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        Africa is poised to make the delicate transition from growth to shared prosperity and increased well-being. Photo: UNDP in Togo

        Africa is on the verge of a development breakthrough. Extreme poverty has come down, child and maternal mortality have been sharply reduced, and most countries have made progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the eight internationally-agreed targets to reduce poverty, hunger, and disease by 2015. But it will take a different kind of growth - faster and more inclusive - to improve the lives of people in Africa on a much broader scale. There is today a unique combination of high commodity prices and very large discoveries of oil, gas, minerals that has the potential to both accelerate growth and improve standards of living in Africa in the years to come - provided that African countries can do three things. First, capture effectively and transparently the proceeds from extracting resources. Much of the income generated from mining, oil, and gas industries usually goes to the foreign companies providing the technology, skills, and finance. Whether Africans benefit depends largely on how effective governments are in raising revenues from taxes and royalties. Second, managing revenues from oil, gas and mining also implies making decisions on how much to invest now, versus how much to save for later, given that these resourcesRead 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 sevenRead More

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