Voices from Eurasia

Development Effectiveness

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

“From Russia to Tajikistan”: changing the way money moves

25 Jul 2017 by Marina Petrovic, George Harrap and Jamshed Kardikulov

Relative to GDP, remittances flowing into Tajikistan are among the largest in the world. Photo: Mashid Mohadjerin
Citizens of Tajikistan rely heavily on remittances. A lack of job opportunities means that up to 1 million (out of a population of 8 billion) migrate elsewhere for work, mostly Russia. Until 2014, the share of remittances made up around 43 percent of the national GDP, roughly US$4 billion a year. The global recession and the depreciation of the Russian and Tajik currencies against the US dollar has since caused a sharp decline in remittances. But its share is still significant at 20-25 percent, as labor migration continues to be attractive. … Read more

Crowdfunding for small businesses: what’s the story?

21 Jul 2017 by Robert Pašičko, Marina Petrović and Milica Begović, UNDP Alternative Finance Lab

We selected 12 entrepreneurs and helped turn their vision into a crowdfunding campaign. Photo: UNDP
Our experience taught us that crowdfunding is not just a new funding method. It’s also a tool to engage communities; a powerful outreach and advocacy mechanism; and a way to create new business models and use new technologies for tackling social problems. Can it be applied for funding small and medium enterprises (SME)? Donating money can help buy a blanket for one person in need. But crowdfunding a small business can help it to produce affordable blankets for hundreds of people in need. This can contribute to building a whole ecosystem of supporters and ambassadors, serving as a powerful leapfrog. This year, we’re trying to see whether crowdfunding can help small entrepreneurs access funding where mainstream banking is prohibitively expensive. We started with Ukraine. Our recovery programmes there have one challenging task: to inspire people from war-affected areas, many of whom worked all their life in mines and factories, to become entrepreneurs. … Read more

Designing a city for people, not cars

20 Jul 2017 by Lasha Nakashidze, Green Cities Project Manager, UNDP Georgia

Waterfront park in Batumi. Photo: Vladimer Valishvili / UNDP Georgia
When I walk to the office, I think about cities having their own personalities. I see Batumi as male, smart, well-groomed, and laid-back as if the salt and holiday spirit of the Black Sea have sunk into his system. He appreciates the fusion of the jumble in the old city, the scent of magnolia and coffee around the small cafes, and the sparkling new buildings along the boulevard. He enjoys the buzz of tourists heading to the beach and bicycles riding along the sea-side promenade. But when I turn away from the seaside towards the busy streets, I see the other side of this laid-back man. The mood of the city changes, becomes tense and anxious. The streets look grey and are full of cars and eccentric drivers. Batumi has grown dramatically in recent years, from a relatively small city of 18 km2 in 1990 into a 65 km2 urban conglomerate. It is not only a leading sea resort of Georgia, but plays a critical role in the national economy as a sea and land gate for the country. … Read more

What data innovation can tell you about a city

18 Jul 2017 by David Svab, Sustainable Development Programme Analyst, UNDP Kosovo*

Cities worldwide are increasingly using big data to identify trends before making decisions about services or infrastructure. Data innovation is becoming core to making cities smart and sustainable. Seoul follows its residents’ mobility patterns to optimize its public transportation, the Sudanese look at electricity at night as proxy metrics of poverty, and the City of Angels has a big data-driven approach to reducing cycling accidents on its roads. We’re riding a similar wave in Kosovo*. With the Emergency Management Agency, UNDP Innovation Facility, UN Global Pulse, UN Kosovo Team, and Open Data Kosovo, we looked at how we can use big data to improve public services. Our test focused on one particular theme: Can we use anonymous emergency call records to the 112 service as a way to improve emergency response in Kosovo? First, we ran an algorithm to find out initial patterns and timelines of emergency calls made in Prishtina. Then, we mapped the calls geographically with the help of Kosovars on a crowdsourcing platform we developed. … Read more

What kind of blender do we need to finance the SDGs?

12 Jul 2017 by Mara Niculescu, Partnership Development Analyst, UNDP Europe and Central Asia

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) says achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will take between US$5 to 7 trillion, with an investment gap in developing countries of about US$2.5 trillion. At the same time, the most recent OECD DAC report shows that in 2016 the total official development assistance reached a peak of US$142.6 billion, which is one order of magnitude smaller than the needs. … Read more

Companies are producing more responsibly, more sustainably

11 Jul 2017 by Paula Pelaez, Programme Manager, Business Call to Action

MUJI is sourcing wool and wool products from Kyrgyzstan. Photo: MUJI
The world is a riskier place to operate in. Populations are growing and feeding people is becoming trickier. Climate change is challenging our security and ability to make a living. Global markets have become more unstable. For companies, these global trends present both risks and opportunities, requiring them to rethink how to source and produce in a sustainable way. At the Business Call to Action, we work with companies who are applying sustainable principles in their daily operations. What have we learned from them? … Read more

How do you inspire entrepreneurship in a conflict-affected region?

12 Apr 2017 by Janthomas Hiemstra, UNDP Ukraine Country Director and Sofiya Oshchebska, National Coordinator - Crowdfunding Academy, UNDP Ukraine

Pavlo, 71, is a, blacksmith from Lugansk and will open his new workshop in Kharkiv region. Photo: UNDP Ukraine
The armed conflict in eastern Ukraine has not only disrupted everyday life in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, but also led to staggering unemployment. Out of 23 major enterprises in Luhansk region, 19 are currently not operating, while half of the enterprises in Donetsk region have lost about 950,000 jobs. Supporting employment is challenging in the best of circumstances, and far more so in conflict situations. How do you talk about the benefits of entrepreneurship to people who lost everything and, after being displaced, are just trying to find their place in a new community? At UNDP Ukraine’s Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme, we have an ambitious goal: to promote entrepreneurship in Donbas, inspire people who worked all their life in mines and factories to step in the unsure path of entrepreneurship, and make them believe in themselves and their country again. So we decided to start by showing the joy of creating and developing your own business through the stories of ordinary people. Stories of people like us who, despite all the difficulties, have succeeded. … Read more

Can we track disasters before they happen?

17 Mar 2017 by Aida Hadzic-Hurem, UNDP BiH, Disaster Risk Reduction Project Manager

disaster mitigation - BiHHave you tried DRAS? Check it out and let us know what you think in the comments! We’d love to hear from you.
In May 2014, Bosnia and Herzegovina was hit by devastating floods causing loss of human life, and damages and losses of 2 billion EUR. In the midst of the tragedy, all of us were proud of the exceptional assistance that UNDP provided to the ones that needed it the most. Our staff worked tirelessly and efficiently to deliver much needed relief, putting in place recovery programs worth close to 80 million USD. As UNDP, we also used the momentum to start creating awareness that poor development decisions can worsen the impact of disasters. Disaster Risk Analysis System (DRAS) was hence born out of the understanding that disaster risk management cannot happen with civil protection measures alone. … Read more

Prototyping the government of the future in Armenia

24 Jan 2017 by Marina Mkhitaryan, Max Perry-Wilson, Hasmik Soghomonyan

Innovation
No matter where you live, reforming how the public sector operates is a difficult task. How do we ensure that public services are designed to be as effective and accessible as possible? How do we make government agile and responsive in the face of black swans and wicked challenges? How do we develop a bureaucracy that handles a myriad of tasks as efficiently as possible? In post-Soviet contexts, this challenge is even greater. In the Soviet era, a top-down hierarchy rarely rewarded risk-taking and experimentation, a sentiment that is still too common today. Our own research in Armenia shows that experts fear “rocking the boat” with new ideas without say-so from a higher-up. This results in a channel of creativity that flows only from the top down, leading to services that do not account for citizens’ voices. After all, public sector innovation is not only about listening to citizens’ voices – it is also about optimising working process and getting your big bureaucracy to work effectively and efficiently. … Read more

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