Our Perspective

      • Don't Turn Away From the World's Most Violent Region

        29 Aug 2011

        Even though the era of civil conflict in Central America is over, the region has the highest murder rate in the world: 44 per 100,000 people, 11 times the worldwide average of four per 100,000. This means more than 18,000 homicides in 2010 and 79,000 in the past six years. The late 1990s saw new democratic consolidation and economic growth in Central America, with admittedly mixed results. But the absence of outright war failed to bring peace, and sustained global efforts are now essential if we are to prevent the region’s already grave security crisis from worsening. Citizens feel unsafe on the streets, and even in their own homes. For their part, governments have to tackle the threat of drug-trafficking, kidnapping, organised crime, gangs, arms-dealing, and human-trafficking. Direct costs include loss of life, disability, and the illicit trade that results from crimes against property. Huge social inequality and under-employment among younger citizens form the backdrop for this insecurity, which goes beyond the domain of the war against drugs. Insecurity exacts a grimly quantifiable toll on both GDP and human development, thwarting the capacity both of individuals and of whole societies to fulfil their potential in this ever more global economy. The Read More

      • Drought in Kenya: Current Crisis Calls for Long-term Solutions

        25 Aug 2011

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        A Somali woman holds a malnourished child, waiting for medical assistance. Somalia and Kenya are two of the most affected countries by the drought in the Horn of Africa. UN Photo/Stuart Price

        Only minutes after our take-off from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport, the landscape below us starts changing from lush green to arid brown and yellow, seemingly devoid of life. We are heading to the dry rural regions of Wajir and Turkana in northern Kenya. With me on board are the World Food Programme Executive Director Josette Sheeran and the Food and Agriculture Organization Director-General Jacques Diouf. We set out to hear directly from those most affected by the unfortunate drought and famine unfolding in the region. Kenya has been hit especially hard by the crisis, with a food-insecure population of more than 3.5 million due to the drought. One farmer reports that in his village, close to the three-way border shared with Ethiopia and Somalia, it has not rained for almost two years and that there have been no harvests at all since 2009. Most families and communities in Wajir rely on goats and cattle for their survival, but with the severity and duration of the crisis, their livelihoods are now threatened. The people we meet during our tour are tough, and so is their livestock. But we can tell they have reached the limit of what they can take. Sadly, this crisis Read More

      • Why – so far – the Millennium Development Goals have been a success

        23 Aug 2011

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        Fishermen bring in the daily catch in south-eastern Viet Nam. Photo: Tran Vinh Nghia/UNDP

        The world has 1,520 days to achieve the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – eight commitments that were agreed upon at the turn of the century with the aim of creating better living conditions for all. The MDGs were criticized when they were first adopted.  They continue to be criticized. Some believe they lack ambition, others say that they are unrealistic. Many have pointed out that they do not adequately consider unjust conditions in areas such as trade, investment and debt. Others have pointed to a weak emphasis on environment and climate issues, or that the goals are isolated indicators of poverty. Despite the criticism – and the fact that we do not yet know whether the goals will be achieved globally – we can, in my opinion, state that the MDGs have been a phenomenal success in two ways.  First, they have contributed to ensuring that a majority of developing countries are giving increased priority to policies that put people at the center: freedom from hunger, education for all, basic healthcare, clean drinking water. Around the world, the goals have guided budget decisions and law-making processes. As such the MDGs have contributed to a significant shift.  Growth, investment, asphalt Read More

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