Is social contracting the way forward for more effective social service delivery in Eastern Europe and CIS?

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Filed under: Poverty Social inclusion

Social services such as education, health care, subsidized housing or welfare meals are principally provided by the state to improve the quality of life for children, people with disabilities, the elderly and vulnerable individuals who cannot meet their basic needs.

In the last two decades, most countries in Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) have undergone fundamental changes: transition from centralized to free market economies and liberal democracy. In a quest to adapt to this new reality, they are designing new public and social systems that also involve transferring the obligations of social service provision from central government to local authorities. In general, there is a difference in the scope of competencies and financial discretion of local governments for the provision of social services across the region, with some countries (in particular the Western Balkans) being more advanced than others.

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From London riots to Arab spring. Measuring social exclusion is a first step to address it

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Filed under: Social inclusion

London riots photo black and white

It’s often difficult to make sense of rapidly evolving events and equally tempting to generalize about the global zeitgeist out of disparate local phenomena. In spite of this, many commentators (see the World‘s Arab vs UK unrest: spot the difference, and the Washington Post‘s What’s behind Britain’s riots) seem to concur that events as diverse as the Arab spring, the London summer riots, the tent protests in Israel and all the way to unrest in Chile have at least one thing in common – social exclusion as one of the underlying causes (if not the main cause) of violent clashes. Exclusion may have different faces and manifestations but it has a similar outcome – fractured societies and human poverty. All governments are responsible for preventing such outcomes.

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What is the impact of environmental disasters on the social fabric of a country? Data from Europe and CIS

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Filed under: Social inclusion

From Chernobyl to the Aral Sea: unfortunately the history of our region has been marked by significant environmental disasters. But did these events also have an impact on the social fabric of the affected communities? And, if so, how would it manifest itself? This was one of the questions we were interested to explore as we set to investigate the issue of social inclusion in our regional Human Development report.

Environmental disasters and social exclusion graph

Source: UNDP social exclusion survey, 2009

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It is not “Equal Pay for Equal Work” for women – in the workplace, and on the football ground

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Filed under: Gender equality

As a Japanese national, I was keen to join the celebrations for the victory of our women’s football team at the FIFA World Cup in Frankfurt until the festive mood quickly turned into the disappointing realization of yet another example of gender pay gap.  There is no difference between the rules for men’s football games and the rules for women’s football games.  And yet, the women who won the World Cup received ¥1.5 million each from the Japan Football  Association for their first place finish whereas the men who didn’t reach the quarter finals in last year’s World Cup in South Africa received at least ¥10 million each. If that’s not discrimination, what is – I wonder.

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Is most development work invisible?

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Filed under: Development Development 2.0

Alice Casey recently wrote a great blog post on “the power of visible” to bring about social change. It prompted me to share more broadly the slides (below) that I use for internal training on “Making the invisible (development worker) visible”, in case someone out there might find them useful (comments most welcome!).

The basic idea: typically, a good chunk (and, not rarely, the most interesting chunk!) of what happens on the ground in development work is effectively  “invisible” and is not captured in any formal documentation (whether internal or external) or data collection effort. Compare the experience of reading a project document and talking to a manager telling the story about that very same project, their eyes sparking: sometimes, it feels like two worlds apart! This is in part a reflection of one of the 7 key principles of rendering knowledge: We always know more than we can say, and we will always say more than we can write down.”

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Ohrid @ 10 years – celebrating peace and the good governance agenda

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Filed under: Governance

We are just back in Skopje from an exciting high-level conference in the lakeside town of Ohrid that brought together more than 100 key national and international political actors to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Ohrid Peace Agreement. That Agreement ended the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s (FYROM) internal conflict in 2001. It also helped promote the country’s good governance agenda, which UNDP actively supports.

The main message from the conference was: the country has much to celebrate—particularly the cessation of hostilities and the integration of national minorities into political life. But, challenges remain.

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Is development in the former Soviet block your thing?

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Filed under: Development

UNDP’s Development and Transition is looking for partners

 

”You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino’s new novel, If on a winter’s night a traveler. Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade. Raise your voice and tell the others ‘I’m reading! I don’t want to be disturbed!’”

(Italo Calvino, If on a winter’s night traveler)

Let’s be honest. It is quite unlikely that someone reading the latest issue of Development and Transition  (D&T for our friends!), UNDP’s regional newsletter focusing on the former Soviet block (from Eastern Europe to Central Asia), will let the world fade and dispel every thought just to be able to dive in into the universe of local integrated development. We would very much hope they would at least tell the others with a raised voice ‘I am reading ! I don’t want to be disturbed!’

You know a trick or two to make this happen? Get in touch! The Development and Transition team is opening up several channels to engage more actively with our audience. Development and Transition’s aim is to discuss and think differently about development policy in our region. We work for and with practitioners to present a variety of viewpoints and analytical approaches from field experience, as well as from academia.

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What to do when the landfill is 99% full

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Filed under: Environment Governance

Early steps of cooperation between citizens and local authorities in Ukraine

                                                                               

These days, the problem of solid waste management is at the top of the list for many Ukrainian administrative and territorial units. In Tulchyn district (with a population of about 60,000) it requires an immediate solution. The sanitary situation is getting worse in the majority of district towns and villages: new, uncontrolled waste dumps keep emerging, while the existing landfill has exhausted its capacity and is 99 percent full.

As my colleague, Andrey Ivanov, reminded us in his TED Talk, Ukraine is certainly not the only country in Europe to experience problems with municipal waste management. While some European countries plan to completely stop using landfills to deal with waste over the next five to seven years, the majority of  Ukrainian municipalities continue to intensively exploit existing landfills, many of which do not comply with established standards. As UNDP’s analysis (pdf, in Ukranian) on solid waste systems recently found out, 314 Ukrainian landfills (about seven percent) are overloaded, and 897 (about 20 percent) don’t meet safety requirements.  

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Can we stop feeding the hungry energy beast?

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Filed under: Climate change Environment

Announcing our new website on energy efficient buildings

Akhurian demo energy efficient building project site, Armenia

Energy efficient building project site, Armenia

Buildings we live and work in are hungry “energy beasts”: they “eat” around a third of the total energy consumed globally (World Energy Outlook 2010). In the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), this figure is even higher because of aging housing, lack of proper maintenance and traditionally “wasteful” energy consumption patterns. In Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan for example, up to 40 to 50 percent of the national energy demand is in buildings (World Energy Outlook 2010). This has important economic, social and environmental repercussions, such as excessive energy bills that have to be paid by poor households as well as rising greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

For this reason, within the environment programme at UNDP, we have taken on the challenge of promoting more energy efficient buildings in Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus. With financial support from the Global Environmental Facility, we support countries in the region to put in place new green building codes, energy passport and certification schemes, and  have constructed over 100,000 square metres of new residential and public space with a significantly reduced energy use (40 percent or more).

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Social media for anticorruption? Exploring experiences in the former Soviet block

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Filed under: Anticorruption Development Development 2.0 Governance

Spurred by events in the Arab world and high profile examples like the Indian Ipaidabribe.com, the role of social media to fight corruption and, more broadly, improve governance has been in the spotlight recently (see e.g. the Accountability 2.0 blog). Perhaps the most comprehensive reports we have come across in this area are from the Transparency and Accountability Initiative. Their global mapping report on technology for transparency and the latest piece on the state of the art in transparency, accountability and citizen participation are particularly informative. Ditto for the online tracking tool on technologies for civic engagement.

A recent post from Aleem Walji on the World Bank’s CommGap site, “From egov to wegov” provides a good summary of the key issues at stake:

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