UNDP Around the world

Voices from Eurasia

Communities and local development

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

20 years of mine action progress, but not yet in the clear

03 Apr 2017 by Olaf Juergensen, Mine Action and Development Specialist, UNDP Eurasia

deminers in Bosnia Deminers at work in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Photo: UNDP Bosnia and Herzegovina
My earliest personal encounter with landmines occurred in Mozambique in 1994, shortly after its brutal 17-year civil war came to end. I was conducting research in a remote district of Tete Province, close to the Malawi border, to learn how communities remaining in the country coped with the daily threats of violence and deprivation. The war created 2 million refugees and 5 million internally displaced persons. With the peace agreement holding, people slowly returned home to begin the difficult work of rebuilding their lives. But they were greeted by an estimated 2 million landmines. I travelled many of same routes as the returnees and often wondered about the presence of mines, but lacking awareness, I didn’t alter my routine or attitude to the risks. After an accident involving a truck in a WFP convoy that struck an anti-vehicle mine only 100 metres from a food distribution point, I realized the risks. … Read more

One solution can "feed" multiple benefits

29 Dec 2016 by Snezana Mircevska Damjanovska, Project Officer, UNDP in fYR Macedonia

preparing foodWomen prepare food for a soup kitchen in a kindergarten in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Photo: Tomislav Georgiev / UNDP fYR Macedonia
Early every morning in the southern town of Demir Kapija, 15 people on social welfare arrive at the soup kitchen that has been established in a local kindergarten to pick up prepared meals, including warm pies and traditional stews. On Fridays they receive packages to help them get through the weekend. One 70-year-old grandfather comes every day to collect meals for himself and his wife. “At first it was a bit uncomfortable collecting food because it’s a small town and we all know each other,” he says. “But poverty makes you forget about shame. And at least in this way we are not a burden on our children.” The local kindergarten hired two kitchen assistants from amongst local unemployed people to help prepare food for the needy. The soup kitchen has enabled the kindergarten to welcome more pupils, while also helping local people on social welfare by providing them with free hot meals. … Read more

I work for UNDP and I am not a development expert

11 Mar 2016 by Nazife Ece

A young woman with a Turkish family
I have to be honest with you. Four years ago, just before my first day at UNDP in Turkey, I thought I knew everything about development. I was dead wrong. Doing development is less about having a comfortable office and more about touching people’s hearts. It’s about being open to learning from others. But that’s just what UNDP has taught me: There is no such thing as a development expert. There are only people who carry a passion for learning from and helping others. You get this feeling very clearly at UNDP in Turkey. It’s an office that has been around for more than 50 years. You could say UNDP and Turkey have evolved together. In the 1960s, Turkey had a population of 30 million with a thirst to develop. Per capita income was around 385 US dollars* and industrial reforms were beginning to take place rapidly. … Read more

The long road to prosperity in Kosovo*

17 Feb 2016 by Andrew Russell

The recent news out of Kosovo has been bleak. The tensions between the ruling coalition and opposition is growing, while public protests against recent agreements with Serbia and Montenegro have turned violent. But let’s take a step back and look at the other side of the story. In 1999, following a decade of conflict in the Western Balkans, peace returned to Kosovo. Between 2000 and 2010, Kosovo’s economy grew faster than the European average. The international community has contributed enormously to the reestablishment of security, rehabilitation of infrastructure, and the creation and strengthening of public institutions. And our Kosovan partners have invested significant resources in reducing poverty, creating jobs, and improving welfare. … 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

Celebrating Roma and Egyptians in Albania

12 Apr 2013 by Nora Kushti, Communication Specialist, UNDP in Albania

Almost every morning as I drive to work, I see a little beautiful Roma girl begging in the street, sitting in the same corner. Sometimes I stop to talk to her. Her name is Violeta and she thinks she is nine years old. She’s never gone to school but “would love to someday.” She seems to envy my son, who is the same age, and nicely dressed as heads to school. She is the oldest of the kids in her family, her parents are divorced, and her mother cleans the street so she can provide food for her children. My son said to me one day: “Too bad her parents did not study hard, get a good education and a good job to provide for their children.” … Read more

Roma inclusion: building houses does not solve the housing issue

25 Feb 2013 by Jaroslav Kling, Roma Inclusion Policy Analyst, UNDP Europe and Central Asia

Our next batch of Roma analysis is out - this week’s focus is on housing. The latest report is part of the Roma Inclusion Working Papers series, and is based on data from the survey UNDP did together with the World Bank and the European Commission in 2011. When we talk about Roma housing, many of us might imagine substandard shacks in a segregated and poor part of the village. The survey data show that this image is reality for many Roma across Central and Southeastern Europe. Leaking roofs, no access to utilities mainly due to inability to pay bills, and the threat of eviction. Overall poor housing conditions is the everyday reality for a large number of marginalized Roma. But do Roma really have to live in such conditions? Is it primarily their responsibility? Should society leave marginalized people on their own? … Read more