Young people at the forefront of HIV prevention in Uzbekistan

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Filed under: HIV

Interactive games help raise awareness about HIV prevention

Interactive games to help raise awareness about HIV prevention

Zebiniso Muhsinova is only 21. Nevertheless, she conducts her HIV awareness mini-sessions among schoolchildren with the confidence and flair of a prominent trainer.

“Active participation of young people, their eagerness to learn and protect themselves from HIV, sexually transmitted diseases and drug abuse are amazing. Practice shows that our students are generally aware of these issues; however they lack an in-depth understanding of their consequences, their impact on the human body, and how best to avoid them. I strive to fill these gaps, and feel truly rewarded by their reaction to my sessions.”

Zebiniso Muhsinova

UNDP is working with the “Kamolot” Youth Movement – the largest youth organization in the country, with a wide network.  They carry out activities all across the country to raise awareness on HIV prevention, sexually transmitted diseases, drug abuse and advocate for a healthy lifestyle. Read more »

Announcing the UNDP/Nesta renewable energy challenge: Can you help people affected by war? #UNDPprize

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Filed under: Development Environment Peace and security Poverty Social inclusion Social innovation

I want to share the story of Milos Bosnjak and his family. They own a cow, one calf and 163 sheep. But after returning home when the war ended in Bosnia and Herzegovina, they didn’t have electricity.

And they still don’t.

Because they live off the grid, they cannot store and refrigerate milk, or produce cheese – which they could sell to generate much-needed income.

Milos is among 1 million people that returned to Bosnia and Herzegovina after the war.

It is to help people like Milos’ family that today we are proud to launch the UNDP renewable energy challenge.

Milos Bosnjak and family - living without electricity for 10 years

Milos Bosnjak and family – living without electricity for 10 years after returning home

We’re also pleased to be working with our partner, Nesta, given their extensive experience on using challenges to find solutions to intractable problems. (See: Using prizes to spur innovation)

Can you help?

We’re looking for an individual or company that can help us find a renewable energy solution to provide off-grid power to cover the needs of returnee families in rural Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Read more »

3 ways to tell when we’re actually going to ‘end AIDS’

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Filed under: Health HIV Human rights and rule of law Migration and remittances Social inclusion

UNAIDS released their annual report this week on the state of the global AIDS epidemic, and the media headlines were universally optimistic.

Ending AIDS’ is possible in our lifetime. Possible, yes. But we are not on pace for it quite yet. Indeed the achievements reported are real, and they’re saving millions of lives and promoting inclusive development throughout the world.

But at our current rate of progress we are unlikely to achieve the UNAIDS goals of zero new infections, zero AIDS-related deaths and zero HIV-related stigma.

Here are three clear milestones to look for to know when the end is in sight. Read more »

Mardamej: Reload 2012

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Filed under: Development 2.0 Social inclusion Social innovation

QR code for Mardamej Reload - social innovation camp in Armenia

Tomorrow, UNDP in Armenia will host Mardamej reload (in Armenian). Once again, this festival of co-creation is teaming up with Social Innovation Camp Ltd to deliver six projects identified, designed and implemented by volunteers.

The deadline for submissions closed last weekend and we had an even greater response than last year: 75 ideas!

As usual, the itch workshops were central to getting beyond the “usual suspects.”  But this year, we didn’t deliver them all ourselves. Some of the participants from last year’s event volunteered to spread the Mardamej spirit.

With the extra time this freed up, we held a Creative Game (pdf) with civil society organizations (CSOs), the Government and the corporate social responsibility team from Orange Armenia. The event enabled us to think in detail about the issue of corruption with those that work at the coal-face of service delivery.

The Creative Game discussions were very abstract – and not entirely action-oriented.  But I’ll reserve judgment until I receive the facilitator’s report. One positive outcome of the event is that we confirmed participants from the Ministries of Health, Education and Finance in the Social Innovation Camp.

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Disaster? There’s an app for that…

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Filed under: Climate change Development 2.0 Disaster response Peace and security Social innovation

This post was originally published on the national UNDP website

screen shot of mobile app that uses public data to help keep citizens safe, fYR Macedonia

New mobile app uses public data to help keep citizens safe

“I guess I’m a bit of an information freak!” says Vasko Popovski, UNDP’s Project Manager for Disaster and Climate Risks, when asked how he came up with the idea for a nifty new app that’s set to revolutionize public access to data on dangerous events like earthquakes, floods and fires and potential hazards like violent thunderstorms and heavy snowfalls.

With a flick of his fingers Vasko scrolls through a dozen screens listing every dangerous event currently verified and recorded in the country—from floods to power station malfunctions and floods—with maps clearly detailing the exact locations of each event.

Clicking on a highlighted location brings up specific information about the status of the event and essential advice and information on how to deal with the danger, including emergency service numbers and links for alerting others to the problem.

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Open Government Partnership in the former Soviet bloc: implementation gaps

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Filed under: Anticorruption Development 2.0 Governance Social inclusion

At the 15th International Anticorruption Conference (IACC), the open government partnership (OGP) and open data were among the hottest topics; mapping, crowdsourcing, new technologies and practical solutions for open data like open contracting were presented and discussed as “game changers:” powerful tools for engaging citizens and relevant stakeholders in the fight against corruption.

I had the pleasure of sitting in a panel on the OGP with activists and practitioners of the caliber of Aruna Roy and Daniel Kaufmann; the aim of our session was to showcase the successes of the OGP in promoting transparency and civic participation, fighting corruption, and harnessing technology to improve governance.

The hall was crowded with people of all ages and walks of life. It was particularly motivating and interesting to hear from Ms. Roy about her work in India at the grassroots level for access to information and from Mr Kaufmann about the tools and techniques for open government.

But while I am convinced that the OGP can have a major impact on the quality and effectiveness of public services, following the steps of my colleague Marija in the Guardian, I decided to play the devil’s advocate and point to some of the challenges ahead for the Partnership, particularly in countries with high levels of corruption. Below is a quick recap of the key points I raised.

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Co-producing Ukraine’s human development report with citizens

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Filed under: Development Development 2.0 Social inclusion

Future We Want, Ukraine - screen shot

What needs to change to improve the quality of life in Ukraine?

In a TED Talk that made the global rounds of the development community earlier this year, ONE’s John Drummond invited economists and development organizations to come down from their ivory tower and crowdsource the next generation of Millennium Development Goals (by the way, it looks like his appeal succeeded!).

Inspired by his call to action, as well as the amazing experience of Brazil’s Point by Point that succeeded in mobilizing over 500,000 people for human development, we decided to go about producing our next human development report for Ukraine in a rather unconventional way.

Typically, the topic of the Human Development Report is the result of consultations among experts, national partners and a variety of stakeholders. This is all very well and good, but what if we could push the boundaries and involve citizens directly, particularly at the local level, in defining priorities for the country’s development? (Pollsters in Ukraine have a bias towards urban centres).

What if they could help us draw attention to those development indicators that really make a difference from their perspective?

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Taking participation to a new level with GovCamp

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Filed under: Anticorruption Development 2.0 Governance Social inclusion

GovCamp in fYR Macedonia

Whizz kids and their solutions at GovCamp

I recently got back from three days of intensive brainstorming in Bitola with some of the country’s leading whizz kids to come up with new ways of using social media to increase accountability in local government.

And I’m sure everyone who took part would agree that this event took participation in governance to a new level.

GovCamp is the first think-tank of its kind in the country and a model of how citizen participation can go beyond consultation to active involvement in generating solutions to improve local services.

GovCamp was organized to support the country’s anti corruption programme, and is part of a UNDP project (pdf) to improve accountability and reduce corruption in local government.

The idea behind it is quite simple—in the best sense of the word. First an open invitation was issued to non governmental organizations (NGOs) to propose ideas for  using technology to improve communication and cooperation between citizens and local government.

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Social media and political risk analysis

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Filed under: Development Development 2.0 Disaster response Peace and security

We’ve all heard it many times before and I’ll repeat it: we live in an age of constant disruption. Being caught off guard has slowly become a part of the everyday parlance. This is painfully true in development. A conflict or a disaster can set back years of development.

A sudden drop in unemployment can have unpredictable and long lasting impacts on health, education and productivity years after it takes place. So we are on a constant lookout for methods that would give us the smallest hint about the upcoming changes and signals that something is ‘cooking’ so we can better prepare.

A growing number of private sector companies and, increasingly, development organizations, are looking at tools to augment their current ability to monitor the external environment to detect potential anomalous patterns.

A whole new generation of companies is growing to meet the demand for this type of intelligence. But for all the new gadgets, no single one can replace human intelligence, the analyst’s experience, intuition and expertise that contextualize the investigation – though it can help make smart people, well, smarter.

UNDP and Recorded Future tested whether their methods for analyzing big data, the vast amount of public source information, can make our organization better at detecting early warning signs.

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Greening cities versus growing towns

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Filed under: Central Asia Development Environment Governance

Given the rate of urbanization globally, what lies in store for cities in Central Asia? (See: What do you need to start building a city?)

This was the focus of an online discussion held in August with a leading economist from the Asian Development Bank, Guanghua Wan.

Mr. Wan co-authored a chapter of the Asian Development Bank’s Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2012 on “Green Urbanization in Asia.”

This chapter examines recent urban growth in Asia and the associated challenges and opportunities. A number of measures are recommended that would help transform cities into environmentally sustainable inclusive growth centres.

Since the Center for Economic Research where I work is developing a large project to analyse urbanization policies in Central Asia, I asked the Mr. Wan what are the key urbanization challenges in our region and what policies should governments adopt to manage them?

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