A happy place once more

26 Sep 2017 by Natalia Olofinskaya, Regional Technical Specialist, UNDP Istanbul Regional Hub

Since childhood, my imaginary happy place was always a small house in the mountains besides a river. But being a consummate worrier, I know that rivers aren’t safe places. Flash floods wipe away homes. Water levels rise and wash away hard-earned harvests. And sometimes, lives and are lost. Those happy places can transform instantly to places of sorrow. During an assessment mission to Georgia, I found what just might be my dream-come-true place on the banks of the Tskhenistskali River in the Rioni Basin. Looking up through the valley, you could see fruit gardens, bucolic villages and the type of pastoral beauty that belongs only in impressionist paintings and travel brochures. … Read more

Time to say goodbye to the drug crisis in Moldova

22 Sep 2017 by Dorin Rotaru, Project Manager, Procurement, UNDP in Moldova

I have seen many heathy people become a candle in the wind at the blink of an eye. Such is the story of many people living with HIV in Moldova – any opportunistic infection can be fatal to them. According to official statistics, more than 11,000 cases of HIV are registered in the Republic of Moldova. Approximately 300 people die annually from HIV-related causes. Fortunately, we now have effective treatments that allow patients to live long, heathy lives – as long as they receive timely care. Last year alone, 4,500 people received antiretroviral therapy across the country. One major threat to the health of people living with HIV is discontinuation of treatment. If patients stop taking their meds, there is a major risk that their medications will stop being effective when they start taking them again. So treatment adherence is for people living with HIV a matter of life and death. … Read more

What does inequality look like?

15 Sep 2017 by Jodi Hilton, Photojournalist

Photographer Jodi Hilton traveled to 5 countries in Europe & Central Asia to document inequalities for UNDP’s Regional Human Development Report. Here is what she saw through her lens. … Read more

From labs to movements? An invitation to join our conversation on re-imagining labs

15 Sep 2017

In the run-up to UNDP and Nesta’s two-day conference Istanbul Innovation Days (Oct 31-Nov 1), we wanted to take stock and critically reflect on current lab practice and the impact labs create, and to consider what future directions might look like. We reflected with a small group of expert lab practitioners — from public innovation and development labs — on current lab practice, and in this blog we share our reflections, identify a number of needs, and suggest what actions could be taken. We invite you to read it and to join in the conversation on the future of lab practice. … Read more

Creating Islands of Integrity around the Black Sea

05 Sep 2017 by Magdalena Nowakowska, Communications specialist, UNDP Georgia

Islands have been emerging recently around Eastern and Central Europe. But they’re not common islands at all - they are actually cities. We see these cities standing out as “island” enclaves of accountability and transparency in not-so-crystal-clear waters: systems of governance polluted by corruption. Post-communist countries, like Ukraine and Moldova, still struggle to filter malicious practices out of their systems. It’s difficult to get rid of the infamous soviet legacy, where public servants were largely serving their own pockets, rather than public interest. Georgia, known as the Black Sea region’s top reformer, made a significant leap 10 years ago. It substantially decreased corruption levels in the public sector by conducting a thorough reform of administration and implementing institutional methods to ensure transparency. But has this change been sustainable? And what are the next steps in a journey to decreasing corruption throughout the region? … Read more

20 years of peace and justice in Eurasia: Four key trends

28 Aug 2017 by Shelley Inglis, Regional Team Leader, Governance and Peacebuilding, UNDP Eurasia

The past 20 years has seen the Europe and Central Asia region undergo tremendous changes. Our recently launched platform on Sustainable Development Goal 16 details some of those changes and how UNDP is supporting progress. Here are four quick takeaways. 1. Conflicts end, but their shadows remain After several violent conflicts in the 1990s, the Western Balkans region has progressed significantly. Two countries are now fully fledged members of the European Union (Slovenia and Croatia), and the remaining countries and territories are positioning for accession. … Read more

Are young women a key to the growth of Uzbekistan’s ICT industry?

25 Aug 2017 by Anvar Meliboev, Partnerships and Communications Specialist, UNDP Uzbekistan

Young women participants at the Technovation Challenge. Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan
Do you know who Margaret Hamilton is? Not many do. She was the computer scientist and systems engineer who programmed the Apollo 11 spaceflight. There is currently a greatly untapped resource of women programmers, who are essential to the understaffed global ICT industry (an estimated 800,000 extra professionals will be needed in Europe by 2020). But women programmers, especially those in management roles, make up a small minority of the world’s IT professionals. The landscape for women programmers is not much different here in Uzbekistan. The share of women in technical universities is only 16-22 percent of the total number of students. … Read more

All young people deserve the chance to dream

11 Aug 2017 by Dragana Jovanovska, Secretary General, Center for Intercultural Dialogue (CID), fYR Macedonia

Photo: Giulia Annibaletti
We often say everyone deserves to have the same opportunities, and everyone should be given a chance to follow their dreams. But what does that actually mean? Is that just a bunch of words we say because it sounds nice? If not, how do we put it into practice? A 17-year-old girl changed the way I see things. She came from school to the Youth Centre where I work one day. She told me she heard from some friends that there is an opportunity for paid volunteership abroad. I was happy to explain what it was about, and even happier to hear she would like to go. She just needed to finish her CV and motivation letter, and we would schedule an interview. … Read more

Three lessons I’ve learned from building peace as a young person

11 Aug 2017 by Liridona Osmanaj, Municipal Project Officer, UNDP Kosovo*

Introductory session of participants from Serbia and Kosovo during the Feminist Spring School. Photo: Artpolis NGO
Being from Kosovo, and growing up in the 90s, I know intimately the development challenges that arise post-conflict. Rebuilding societies torn apart by conflict is more than just about silencing guns. The real complexity lies in working to restore trust and reconstruct the shattered social fabric. My war story is a reminder of how old nightmares can rise from the freezer of history. Before the war, we thought that Yugoslavia buried the idea of national and religious identity, but we saw it spring back to life with pitiless savagery. I have since nurtured a fierce passion for conflict prevention and transformation, youth empowerment, social inclusion and development; in a way to do my part so that ethnic conflict does not return to haunt this region ever again. So that people don’t have to go through the experience I went through. … Read more

Making “Women’s Work” Count

09 Aug 2017 by Bharati Sadasivam, Regional Gender Adviser, UNDP in Europe and Central Asia

Over the next few months, the 12,000 employees based at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California will complete their move to an extravagant new campus. The “spaceship,” covering 2.8 million square feet, includes a two-story yoga studio, running paths, and even revolutionary pizza boxes that keep slices crisp. One thing it does not have, however, is daycare. When it comes to ignoring the importance of childcare for working parents, Apple is far from unique. And that omission places a powerful drag on parents’ ability to achieve their economic potential, with women suffering the most. … Read more