Our Perspective

      • Sustaining democracy gains in Rwanda | Auke Lootsma

        16 Sep 2013

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        Close to 75,000 volunteers man the polling stations during the parliamentary elections in Rwanda. (Photo: Guillaume de Brier/UNAIDS)

        Rwanda is widely known for its beautiful landscape, and often remembered for its tragic genocide. But in recent years, I have seen the country make a name for itself as a fast-growing developing country with low corruption, clean and safe streets, and a parliament with the highest proportion of women representatives in the world (52 percent). The upcoming parliamentary elections, from 16 to 18 September, will be held against a backdrop of impressive improvement in the areas of democratic governance and political space. The Government recently passed a series of bills related to media, civil society and political parties to allow these stakeholders to play a stronger role in the democratic process. Candidates on party lists, women’s lists, youth and disabled lists will be vying for the 80 seats in parliament. Almost 6 million registered voters are expected to cast their ballots, an increase of 1.3 million voters compared to the parliamentary elections in 2008.   To boost its capacity and save costs, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) will use close to 75,000 volunteers to man the polling stations and ensure the voting and counting is conducted in a free, fair and transparent manner. This has allowed the NEC to bring Read More

      • Human faces of Myanmar transformation | Toily Kurbanov

        12 Sep 2013

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        Women in Myanmar's Chin State are empowered through UNDP skills training and workshops in finance. (Photo: UNDP Myanmar)

        If you’ve been following developments in Myanmar, you will surely know that the country is undergoing at least three simultaneous transformations:  •  Nation-building: shifting from a country at war with itself to a strong, harmonious Union  •  Political transformation: moving from decades of repressive military rule to participatory democracy  •  Economic transformation: emerging from an autarchic, command-based system to a market economy Hundreds of pages and thousands of cables have been written in the last year and a half—and studied scrupulously from Beijing to Brussels to Boston—about this transformation. Few reports seem to have left room for understatement, and rightly so, because the reforms we are witnessing here indeed merit adjectives such as “historic,” “dramatic” and “breathtaking.” But words alone fall short in capturing what we see inside the country:  more than 60 million human stories taking new turns here and now. For example:  •  A father in the former capital, Yangon, a former day labourer turned proud entrepreneur thanks to new openings in the economy;  •  A wife in the commercial capital, Mandalay, once a victim of domestic  violence and now an NGO activist advocating women’s empowerment;  •  A teenage boy in southern Mon State, once an escaped child soldier Read More

      • Adapting to climate change in Tuvalu | Yusuke Taishi

        11 Sep 2013

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        A project to fight climate change in Tuvalu is helping islanders plant drought-tolerant crops and cultivate home gardens. (Photo: UNDP Fiji Multi-Country Office)

        Every time my Air Pacific flight approaches Tuvalu – an atoll nation consisting of nine inhabited islands – and I look through the window down at the narrow strips of land, my mind wanders back in time to the first Polynesian people who embarked on a long voyage more than 2,000 years ago. I don’t know what drove them to endure the hardship of traveling across the vast ocean, but I do know what stopped them once they reached the land that is now known as Tuvalu: fresh water. But, as climate change impacts rainfall patterns and rising sea levels increase the salinity of groundwater, the water that lured Polynesians to Tuvalu can now be a reason that drives their descendants away from their ancestral lands.    Tuvaluans can no longer rely on drinking groundwater and depend almost entirely on rainwater collected and stored in tanks. In 2011 Tuvalu went through one of its driest spells ever, with very little rainfall over a 6-month period, bringing the country into a national state of emergency. While the average person is estimated to consume 100 litres of water per day, the water ration was reduced to two buckets per day per household at Read More