Working with emerging European donors – a fascinating learning experience

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Filed under: Development

Uzbek officials visit the Czech Bar Association

Uzbek officials visit the Czech Bar Association

This week (13 and 14 June), together with the World Bank Institute and the European Commission, we will be meeting with emerging European donors to discuss the support they have received so far to develop their capacities for development cooperation, and plans for future support.

We will be meeting at Corvinus University of Budapest, but you can follow the discussions on Twitter using the hashtag [#newdonors].

What are our thoughts going into this discussion? UNDP has been working with new partners in development cooperation in Europe for the past ten years, and it has been a fascinating learning experience. One that we think matters for the future of development cooperation globally.

What have we learned? Read more »

Food security and Central Asia

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Filed under: Central Asia Poverty

Woman selling bread in outdoor market in Uzbekistan

About 925 million people are undernourished (pdf) in the world and Central Asia is no exception. People living in Central Asia are severely impacted by fluctuations in food prices. The primary concern related to food security in the region is the relatively high level of poverty faced by Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan (47.2 percent and 31.7 percent, respectively), and to a lesser extent Uzbekistan.

The region is also vulnerable to natural hazards including earthquakes, floods, land degradation and scarcity of water. Partly because of these hazards, Central Asia suffers from low agricultural productivity, which is one of the main causes of food insecurity.

Central Asian populations suffer from both short and long term food insecurity.

Temporary food shortages can be due to natural causes, such as earthquakes or floods. For example, the energy crises in the winter of 2007 and 2008 in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan resulted in shortages of food, a peak in prices and aggravated food insecurity in both countries.

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Roma resettlement: Miroslav’s story

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Filed under: Poverty Roma Social inclusion

In April 2012, more than 200 families were relocated from Belvil, a Roma settlement in Belgrade. About half of the families were returned to towns across Serbia, mostly in the south, where many have houses. Most families had emigrated to Belgrade in search of work.

One month after the move, staff from a United Nations project on inclusive local development visited some of the families. We talked to several people, including Miroslav Iljazovic, who was resettled in Vranje.

“I had four rooms, made of cardboard boxes and oil drums, and all were furnished,” said Miroslav. “We had a table with six chairs, armchairs, beds, the children had their rooms. To be honest, we did not have running water or electricity, but at least I had a job.

“From collecting discarded paper we were able to live pretty decently. Belgrade is a big town, you guys won’t believe what people throw away. Nearly new furniture, clothes and other stuff. I was lucky to find it first.

“I moved to Belgrade because I wanted a job.”

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On crisis mapping, crowdsourcing and online volunteering for development


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

Ushahidi, crisis mapping

We are increasingly interconnected by modern technology. Web 2.0 allowed people not only to post information about their daily lives, but also activated decentralized forms of crisis management in natural disasters, conflicts and emergencies. I want to draw your attention to one of the aspects of this revolution: engaging online volunteers in crowdsourcing and crisis mapping. (For clarification on terminology, see: Diary of a Crisis Mapper)


Since the launch of the first open-source Ushahidi platform dedicated to reporting human rights violations during the post-election unrest in Kenya in 2008, more than 20,000 maps were created and used to record earthquakes, floods, elections, human rights violations, food insecurity.

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From “Big Rio” and “My Rio” to many “Mini Rios”


Filed under: Development Environment

Vote for the #FutureWeWant

Vote for the Future YOU Want

Several weeks ago the municipality of Kolasin hosted a discussion on sustainable development in Montenegro. It was also among the first conferences in the country where hundreds of citizens participated in real time via Twitter. A dialogue generated some difficult questions. The discussion brought one crucial dilemma to light – does Montenegro focus on large scale, infrastructure projects in the future, or does it choose to systemically support development of small and medium enterprises in a variety of green economy related sectors? There was no consensus on the solution and no tangible answers.

Perhaps not surprisingly, there are very few straight forward answers, so the quest continues. NGO partners, the National Council for Sustainable Development and UNDP continued the dialogue on 5 June – World Environment Day.  It took the form of several “Mini Rio Summits” to engage citizens on a number of issues related to sustainable development – to be continued throughout the month, concluding with the reflections of the Rio+ conference.

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Help us sell our cause – infographics for development

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Filed under: Development 2.0 Gender equality

The main challenge we face when we advocate for gender equality is convincing our audience that there is a real need to create and implement more gender-sensitive policies.

Part of our job is to analyze data and translate what we find into a user-friendly message that everyone understands. Tools like reports, indicators and charts are useful for in-depth analysis but rely heavily on a reader’s desire and ability to process the information. This is why these tools are not really effective methods of communication.

For example, the gender inequality index was created to measure inequalities between men and women by combining quantitative and qualitative data from five indicators in three dimensions:

  1. Reproductive health
  2. Women’s empowerment
  3. Participation in the labour market

This is very useful to understand the extent of gender gaps in a country or region, but its official definition is 164 words long and it’s a number between zero (total equality) and one (total inequality).

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Roma strategies: time to put them into action


Filed under: Human rights Poverty Roma Social inclusion

Roma family, Cserehat, Hungary - from a series of photos taken by Roma kids

Roma family, Cserehat, Hungary. From a series of photos taken by Roma kids

National Roma integration strategies – which are supposed to guide and secure the process of Roma inclusion within European Union (EU) countries – have been duly submitted and diplomatically praised by the European Commission.

They are what they are, and can always be improved. Proposals have already been voiced about the need to review the strategies with a stronger role for civil society in mind.

At this point, taking more time to improve the strategies would be wrong.

The strategies are official documents submitted by governments, making them accountable for progress on Roma inclusion. “Getting serious” about Roma inclusion is related both to political will and capacities.

The work of international organizations involved in Roma inclusion and pressure from the European Commission helped to increase the political commitment on the part of national governments – adoption of the strategies is proof of their commitment.

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Roma communities in Belgrade – how to improve quality of life?


Filed under: Human rights Poverty Roma Social inclusion

Belvil, Belgrade, Serbia, temporary housing for Roma families

Belvil, Belgrade, Serbia, temporary housing for Roma families

Last week I walked through Makis, a district in Belgrade, Serbia that is now home to approximately 60 Roma families who were resettled from Belvil a month ago (See: Respecting rights and dignity in Belgrade), and 37 other families who were resettled from beneath the nearby Gazella Bridge more than two years ago.

These two cohorts of families were resettled from equally deplorable circumstances, but now live in adjacent neighborhoods that are visibly different.

The differences in living circumstance between the two settlements struck me, and begged the question:

What can we do to bring the quality of life of Belvil-Makis families up to that of the earlier arrivals?

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Earthquake risks in Central Asia

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Filed under: Disaster response

Risk of seismic activity in Central Asia

Risk of seismic activity in Central Asia

A recent policy brief on natural disaster risks in Central Asia has shed some light on earthquake risks in Central Asia. (See full report - Natural disaster risks in Central Asia: A synthesis)

Central Asia is characterized by high seismic activity. Over the past sixty years many large earthquakes have caused large loss of life and significant property damage. There were more than 30 earthquakes with magnitudes above 6.5 on the Richter scale in the region during the twentieth century.

The main seismic regions in Central Asia include Pamir, Tien Shan, Iran-Caucasus-Anatolia and Central Kazakhstan. If we consider exposure to earthquakes, in some countries the majority of the population lives in areas of high or very high seismic hazard:

  • 99.9 percent of the population for Kyrgyzstan
  • 88.3 percent for Tajikistan
  • 80.4 percent for Uzbekistan

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The sound of my voice


Filed under: Gender equality

Sound of my voice image

At my university I took a class on rhetoric and one of our assignments was to prepare a speech on a subject we were interested in. Though it sounds easy, I must admit that it was very difficult to find a subject that would also be interesting for other people.

One of my classmates chose to talk about women’s rights and equality between men and women in Montenegro. She was convinced that her speech would make young people consider the possible change they could make in their behavior and in society in general.

She talked about political empowerment of women in Montenegro and tried to demonstrate how it is important for everyone to become aware of the inequalities between women and men in our society.

However, she was unheard. She tried hard to keep her speech going, but everyone seemed to have more important topics to talk about than listen to her. That was not the only part that bothered me. What drew my attention were the comments, mostly  from young men in the audience.

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