Big hits and blunders: A social innovation lab in Armenia


Filed under: Development 2.0 Social innovation

a kolba lab lesson

Making the big pitch: Using storytelling to pitch an idea at Kolba’s prototyping event in Vanadzor (Photo: George Hodge)

When UNDP in Armenia launched Kolba over a year ago, it was the only social venture incubator and design lab within the organization.

Twelve months and a lot of (emotional) scars later, we thought it was time to share some of our big hits and blunders.

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Fresh development in Turkey: A berry good business


Filed under: Development Social inclusion


Strawberry fields forever: See more colorful photos

The strawberry fields in the Sason district provide employment to roughly 350 families. They are the lifeblood of the tiny, rural village of Yeniköy.

They are also the namesake of their newly constructed primary school.

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Tackling vulnerability: Five reflections on the Human Development Report in Moldova

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Filed under: Development Gender equality Poverty Social inclusion

Last month, the 2014 Human Development Report was officially unveiled.

It is probably the most comprehensive and empirically robust analysis of progress and trends in human development. On top of this, it guides us towards new policy approaches that tend to shatter our ‘business as usual’ approach.

Here’s how we see its relevance in the Moldova context, where we’ve spent last couple of years trying to understand underlying trends in human development.

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Project snapshot: Georgia after the flood


Filed under: Climate change Disaster response Environment

Natela Benidze, village Chalistavi

Natela Benidze, Chalistavi village (Photos: UNDP in Georgia)

The Rioni River basin in Georgia is becoming more and more susceptible to extreme climate events.

Floods, landslides, and mud torrents are increasing in both intensity and frequency, causing extensive damage to agriculture, forests, roads, and communications infrastructure.

More than 10,000 hectares of agricultural land has fallen out of use in the past decade due to hydro-meteorological disasters.

This is all the more painful for a country where the size of an average plot of land is a mere 0.14 hectares per person.

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The danger of land degradation in Tajikistan

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Filed under: Development Environment

rugged landscape tajikistan

“Land of the rugged mountains”: Half of Tajikistan lies above 3,000 metres

Tajikistan’s mountainous landscape is certainly beautiful, but it’s also difficult to cultivate: only seven percent of the land is suitable for economic use.

Nevertheless, agriculture remains the backbone of the economy, and the poor in particular depend on it for their livelihoods.

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Coming to fruition: Testing hydroponics in Bosnia and Herzegovina


Filed under: Development Environment Social inclusion Social innovation

hydroponic orchard

A little seed funding goes a long way: A conventional grow site in Butmir. (Photo: Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences)

A year ago, we received seed funding from the Czech-UNDP Trust Fund for an innovative agricultural project.

Today, we’re testing hydroponics alongside the conventional methods of growing vegetables in order to figure out which one yields more.

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What a ryde: More reflections from a futurespotter in Egypt


Filed under: Development 2.0 Guest posts Social innovation

one of the groups showcasing their new idea

Read my previous blog and see why Edgeryders are all about “becoming giants together” (Photo: Maria Tarancon)

I have to say it’s been quite the journey.

I don’t know if I’ve ever witnessed the exchange of so many new ideas, mindsets, and perceptions.

It has been incredible to see firsthand the passion and drive of individuals who are putting everything they’ve got into making this world a better place.

I used to always read about exciting grassroots initiatives and I would think to myself:

“How could I ever pull something like this off?”

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South Eastern Europe in review: Where citizens are the experts


Filed under: Anticorruption Governance Social innovation

screenshot of app

More than 2,500 people are now using the “Be Responsible” grey economy-tracking mobile app in Montenegro

Whenever I discuss the governance challenges in South Eastern Europe, the discussion quickly boils down to one issue: (anti) corruption.

At the recently organized SELDI policy advocacy workshop, we went back to the basic principles of “good governance.”

This opened up a wider debate indicating that now may be the time to both reframe the issue and bring in some new approaches.

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Seeing hands in Armenia turn weakness into strength


Filed under: Development Poverty Social inclusion

the blind masseurs of armenia

Seeing hands: When it comes to human rights and inclusion in Armenia, awareness is key

In the ancient Japanese martial art of jujutsu, the attacker never uses full force; rather, he or she exploits the other party’s weakness.

The attacker must understand the opponent, calculate their force, appreciate the strengths, and notice the shortcomings.

Only then can each move be focused and truly effective.

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The confidence question? Meet the investment lady

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Filed under: Gender equality Peace and security Social inclusion

mayor elena josan in moldova

Meet the mayor: Read more about how inequality between men and women affects development (Photos: Natalia Costas/UNDP Moldova)

Is the problem of gender inequality being compounded by a confidence gap?

A recent article in The Atlantic says yes – evidence suggests that women are less self-assured than men—and that to succeed in today’s world, it takes as much confidence as it does competence.

We thought about this in Moldova where men hold most elected offices, and women are acutely underrepresented in leadership positions across most sectors.

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