Kafka Brigade for development?


Filed under: Development Development 2.0 Social innovation

Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka

A recent conversation with Jakub Wygnanski from Shipyard, the Unit for Social Innovation and Research in Poland, prompted me to take a second look at the Kafka Brigade UK website, which I had not visited in a while. The Kafka Brigade describes itself as “the first aid for bureaucratic breakdown” and focuses on action research to reduce red tape for citizens and businesses.

It struck me that their key principles, as described on the site (and copied below), could well be adopted, with some variation, by the development sector to inform the transition towards what Owen Barder has recently called “post bureaucratic aid” in a brilliant post on the results agenda. Read more »

Is inspiration the secret to scaling up?


Filed under: Development

Tobacco Smoke Can Make You Impotent image

Tobacco Free Initiative, Tobacco Smoke Can Make You Impotent – Canada

Within 24 hours, I participated in an analytical discussion on scaling up local development initiatives, attended a presentation about why change is hard, and made some interesting connections.

Discussing the difficulty of change helped me understand what was missing from the development dilemma of scaling up. Change is hard because our emotional side needs to be excited and motivated to change. If we only appeal to people’s rational side we won’t convince them to change their behaviour.

Ten years ago, the noted psychologist Daniel Kahneman was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics for showing how irrationality and risky decision-making play into economics, including the stock market.

His new book will explore the tension between our separate systems of thinking – our slow and deliberative side and our intuitive side. If the economic world has acknowledged the role of psychological and, yes, even irrational behavior, why do development practitioners think our field can escape from this basic truth?

Since we’re in the business of human development, we need to admit that part of being human means that we are not always rational.

Read more »

Are we doing all we can to attract people with disabilities to our work?


Filed under: Development Human rights Social inclusion

Abdulla Abdukhalilov, during training session

Abdulla, a trainer with UNDP in Uzbekistan, shared his on the job experience living with a disability

I just returned from an inspiring meeting in Poland with Mohammed Yunus whose perspective on social businesses are still fermenting into ideas for action. For now, this blog covers another light bulb which ignited in Poland: genuine inclusion of people with disabilities.

Polish laws are strongly in favour of enriching the workplaces of people with disabilities. So much so that the burden of proof is on  businesses to demonstrate results. If they demonstrate a diverse workforce, they can get a tax break. But only if they take action. This incentive is impressive and I saw in person how striking the results can be.

Businesses may need a legal kick, but soon they realize that their customers respect these efforts, and an inclusive business, like Biedronka (Polish retail), draw customers who are happier spending money on companies that care.

Read more »

Hidden Montenegro – foursquare 4 development?


Filed under: Development Development 2.0 Environment Poverty Social inclusion

Montenegrin coast

Did you know that Montenegro is mentioned in Dante’s Inferno? It turns out that in a small northern town located on the river banks of the UNESCO protected river Tara, 13th Century King Uros II “earned” a place in the eighth circle of hell for manufacturing replicas of Venetian coins and passing them off as his own.

There are many more hidden gems (both natural and cultural) in the country’s northern region, which is also the most underdeveloped. And yet, while Montenegro gets some 1.5 million visitors a year (and this number is growing), only five to seven percent of them venture to the country’s north.

Read more »

Ski tourism for local development


Filed under: Development Environment Poverty

Soraya Soemadiredja, UNDP in Uzbekistan

Skiing for development in Uzbekistan

Community-based ecotourism is currently the hot topic in UNDP’s Local Government Support Project office in Uzbekistan. We see it as a key part of supporting and empowering regional and local development, particularly in the regions of Djizak and Namangan.

One of the most exciting activities of the joint project between the Cabinet of Ministers and UNDP is the opening of the ski resort in Zaamin for another season.

Through research and training and the first development of a branding and marketing strategy for a tourism zone in Uzbekistan, we want to boost development and tourism in the Djizak region.

Read more »

The man who planted trees – Kyrgyz version


Filed under: Environment Poverty

The man who planted trees

Saving heritage tree varieties in Kyrgyzstan

A farmer since 1992, Avazbek Chotbaev has implemented 21 agricultural projects and teaches market economy basics to farmers.

When I asked people where I could find Mr. Chotbaev, 56, locals told me his nickname was “the person who has brought life to the desert.” Few people believed that a fruit nursery could be successful in Kyrgyzstan: dry soil, hot climate – bad conditions in general. But not for Mr. Chotbaev.

Avazbek Joldoshevich told me what his father, a WWII veteran, used to tell him: “A good man leaves an orchard behind him.”

And now, a green orchard spreads out over 30 hectares of land. Briars, peach trees, plum trees, poplars, willows, cedars, you can find everything here – around 3,000 specimens in total.

Read more »

Does money have sex? Gender equality and budgets


Filed under: Gender equality

Gender check film premiere
We’re premiering a new documentary tonight in Warsaw which explores the relationship between the labour market, social policy and gender equality.
Afterwards, we’ll have a debate called: Does money have sex? Budget sensitivity to gender equality and the social economy.
Follow along with live tweets from @Barbogalvankova and join the debate – the event hashtag is #gendercheck

Social media for anticorruption: lessons from the trenches


Filed under: Anticorruption Development 2.0 Governance Social inclusion

Trendmap for our region

Real time map of trends on Twitter

As anticipated in a previous post (Social media for anticorruption? Exploring experiences in the former Soviet block), we have been putting quite a lot of thought into the use of social media for anticorruption in our region.

How can we use social media to capitalize on existing efforts by ordinary citizens and NGOs to enhance accountability of public institutions? How can we harness the amount of information concerning corruption scandals and maladministration shared on the Internet by the independent websites, media and bloggers? How can we move beyond the hype of well publicized cases to get into the mechanics of what works and doesn’t work?

We quickly came to the conclusion that the most useful contribution we could make to the debate was to provide some in-depth case studies focusing on the experiences of those who are working “in the trenches” – from the Georgian version of FixMyStreet to Moldova’s crowdsourcing platform Alerte.md, from an in-depth look  at the work of celebrated Russian blogger Alexey Navalny to the use of Ushahidi to monitor elections in Kyrgyzstan.

Read more »

How the old chicken and egg riddle works when it comes to informal payments


Filed under: Anticorruption Governance Health Human rights Social inclusion

Health care centre, Montenegro

Ministry of Health in Montenegro working towards improved patient rights

Have you ever been in a position where medical services have been refused or delayed because an under-the-counter payment was necessary? Were you given the cold shoulder by your doctor? Has there been a shortage of hospital beds, or scarcity of information about your condition?

There may still be lingering disputes over the legal definition of corruption, but one thing’s for sure: corruption is painfully easy to define once it becomes personal.

Back in 2011, the Ministry of Health in Montenegro requested assistance from UNDP and the World Health Organization to assess the integrity of the country’s health care system (pdf). The research was intended to generate data on effectiveness of the health care reform thus far.

While 80 percent of patients were satisfied with the course of the primary health care (centres) reform, the reform at the secondary and tertiary levels (hospitals) hadn’t fared so well. It seems that doctors at primary level of care forged better relationships with their patients, due to a more thorough insight into personal histories and medical records.

Read more »

An agenda for Davos – 2 views


Filed under: Governance Peace and security Social inclusion

Mountain in Davos, Switzerland

As world leaders meet in Davos, two UNDP experts weigh in on what they see as the major issues on the agenda.

Andrey Ivanov, our human development expert, sees a direct link between the Occupy movement and the World Economic Forum and asks: are the suits in Davos up to the challenge to fix existing patterns of inequality? Check out: People or $: Will Davos answer the call?

Zack Taylor, our conflict specialist, looks at the discontent that has brought the middle class to the streets, and the largely unsatisfactory government response. Answering the call for a political system that supports the middle class is wise in terms of peace and stability. He reminds us of the power of social media to give voice to the ‘have nots’. Check out: Inequality and the “radical middle”?

Where do you stand on these hot topics?