How can we save the Saiga?

03 Jul 2015 by Talgat Kerteshev, Biodiversity Projects National Coordinator, UNDP Kazakhstan

Newborn saigas in 2010, in Kostanay oblast, the epicenter of the recent mass die off. Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan
In May, in the span of just two weeks, 134,000 Saiga antelope died in Kazakhstan. The statistics are shocking. All the more so when you realize that 80 percent of the world’s Saiga population live here. UNDP in Kazakhstan’s biodiversity project has analysed statistical data (shown below) to identify patterns of Saiga antelope die-offs in Kazakhstan over a period of 40 years. Some sources say that such mass deaths were observed in the 19th century; there is evidence that the spikes were even more frequent than now in the 20th century. Theories abound as to why the mass die-out of Saiga occur. However, comprehensive scientific surveys are required to know the full reason – and to stop it from happening again. … Read more

All Aboard the Big Data Express!

01 Jul 2015 by Vasko Popovski, Project Manager for Disaster and Climate Risks, UNDP, FYR Macedonia

Visualization of geo-located tweets, Serbia floods, May 2014, UNDP.
The world is changing fast—and so must our approaches to persistent development issues. An ever-increasing number of people and devices and objects now generate data – social networks, mass media, transportation, mobile phones, credit cards, etc. What matters now is not how much data we have, but rather what can we do with all of it. … Read more

Kyrgyzstan: what does it take to make the invisible visible?

16 Jun 2015 by Lucio Valerio Sarandrea, Chief Technical Advisor on Rule of Law, UNDP Kyrgyzstan

And justice for all? Photo: UNDP Kyrgyzstan
A friend in Kyrgyzstan recently told me about the first time she saw a person with disabilities: She had just turned 19 and left the country to study abroad. Day-to-day life makes it easy to forget the people with disabilities who live among us. There are few accessible ramps in Bishkek. A recent trip to the northern part of Kyrgyzstan drove this point home even more. I was in Kara Balta, a remote town populated by fewer than 40,000 inhabitants, and an economy largely dominated by the mining industry. … Read more

Working in development? Here are 6 things not to do on social media

09 Jun 2015 by Mehmet Erdoğan, Communication Analyst, UNDP Europe and Central Asia

Photo: Jesse Knish Photography
I recently relocated to Istanbul where I work on UNDP’s online communications in the regional hub. I see countless blog posts,tweets, Facebook updates and more every week. Let me tell you: The good and the bad look as different as night and day. Here is a reflection on some of the most common mistakes I see happening on social media across the region. 1. Don’t photograph five men in suits sitting lethargically around a table. And if you happen to, don’t tweet it. When you post an image of men sitting around a table (and yes, the gender disparity is often glaring)you’re contributing to the impression that you’re doing nothing but reinforcing the status quo. Perhaps the men (and lone woman) in the photo are doing something really fantastic. That’s irrelevant here. A picture of people in suits – men or women – discussing “something” says nothing. We can’t hear the conversation so the photo does nothing but make us feel like outsiders. … Read more

Fighting TB in Moldova: Moving beyond the nudge

01 Jun 2015 by Lilian Severin and Alex Oprunenco, UNDP Moldova

Meeting with a local doctor to discuss the new trial. Photo: AFI
Over a year has passed since we started discussing how to leverage behavioural insights to tackle tuberculosis in Moldova. Back then Alex described how – together with BIT – we wanted to understand TB patients’ behaviour in order to identify the bottlenecks in adhering to treatment. Looking back, this part of our journey appears exciting and simple. … Read more

Phone-charging shoes? Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore

27 May 2015 by Sandra Ismanovski, Communication and Partnerships Officer, UNDP fYR Macedonia

Two winners emerged out of the 130 submitted ideas to the Climate Challenge. Photo: UNDP fYR Macedonia
A dynamic team of four Macedonian university students has recently come up with one of those brilliant inventions that make you scratch your head and wonder ‘How come nobody thought of that before?’ They’ve proposed an energy-saving device that makes use of our everyday walking and running to generate energy for charging devices like mobile phones and tablets. As UNDP, we launched a call for ideas to tackle Climate Change, back in December 2014. Out of the 130 ideas submitted, our panel picked the ten most promising and organized a 2-day Climate campto help support the shortlisted candidates. After a few months of development, the team behind phone-charging shoes now has a great opportunity to turn its idea into reality—a cash prize of 10,000 US dollars as the winners of the country’s Climate Challenge for innovative solutions to help prevent and mitigate the effects of climate change. … Read more

Social innovation labs: Game-changers in developing countries?

20 May 2015 by Jasmina Belcovska-Tasevska, Social Innovation Specialist, UNDP fYR Macedonia

As MindLab’s Deputy Director Kit Lykketoft pointed out in her recentblog, innovation, experimentation and alternative approaches are becoming ‘the new normal’. And this new normal is no longer exclusive to small groups of people sitting in comfortable conference rooms designing something for people in other places—it is rapidly becoming something for everybody everywhere. While the social innovation lab trend has been accelerating in developed countries, the question we asked ourselves at UNDP was whether they could work in developing ones. Could they work to help the emerging economies of developing countries? What could be the role of labs in such countries? Only a year and a half ago, we still weren’t sure of the answers to those questions. … Read more

Albania: Where a picture’s worth a thousand words

29 Apr 2015 by Nora Kushti, Communication Specialist, UNDP Albania

A treasure trove: Hundreds of thousands of negatives are now being digitized.
One day, I found an unusual email in my inbox. Sent from a man named Mark in the United States, the message read: “Can you please help me find pictures of my great-grandfather who used to live in Shkoder until the beginning of the twentieth century?” Surprised, I wondered how I would possibly find those pictures; but his message made it clear. Mark’s grandfather used to be photographed by the Marubi photo studio in Shkodër, and he had discovered that UNDP was helping digitize its archives. Perhaps, we could help. I immediately contacted our UNDP project office in Shkodër providing them with the approximate time when the photo was taken. A few days later, I received it: A photo of Mark’s great-grandfather, there among the half a million photos extant in the Marubi archive. … Read more

A symbolic change: Time to rebrand justice?

10 Apr 2015 by Lucio Valerio Sarandrea, Chief Technical Advisor on Rule of Law, UNDP Kyrgyzstan

Redrawing justice: What picture would you choose to represent justice?
Justice is often symbolized as a blindfolded woman holding a scale in one hand and a sword in the other. I believe this symbol contributes to the ongoing perception that justice is closely linked with coercion. In line with global efforts to ensure access to justice, I would like to suggest looking for a new symbol that can better convey these principles. Time and again, I have conducted small experiments with many people from diverse backgrounds – including teenagers, university students, lawyers, journalists and pensioners. Most commonly relate the concept of justice to prison bars, handcuffs, or police officers. Many witty answers focus on the blindfolding. Once a student joked that Lady Justice would hopefully hit with the sword only after taking off the cover on her eyes. Somebody else quipped that she would be peeping the whole time through the blindfold. … Read more

A Call to Action: Stop “Bride Kidnapping"

26 Feb 2015 by Lucio Valerio Sarandrea, Chief Technical Advisor on Rule of Law, UNDP Kyrgyzstan

Although local activists continue their efforts to stop the tradition of bride kidnapping, more work is needed to make a difference.
One of the less pleasant things associated with Kyrgyzstan is the cruel tradition of “bride kidnapping”. Recent research from local NGOs show that at least fifty percent of the marriages in the country involve elements of this ritual. Essentially, “bride kidnapping” is the ritual of ambushing a young woman and detaining her until she agrees to marry her kidnapper. In the best-case scenario, she is subject to enormous psychological pressure and brainwash from female relatives of the kidnapper to accept the marriage; the rest of the time, she is a subject of rape. I read a lot of sad stories about this tradition, most of which consist of cultural justifications based on the poor economic situation of Kyrgyzstan. But perhaps the most striking story of all is the direct account of a dark-eyed young woman who I will call Roza. … Read more