Helping mothers and newborn to embrace life

15 Sep 2015 by Rasha Al-Shargabi, Field Manager, Youth Economic Empowerment Programme, UNDP in Yemen

two Yemeni womenA future midwife is training in filling out assessment forms as part of a national midwife association training on community mapping. Photo: Rasha Alshargabi/UNDP Yemen
Four-year-old Mohammed caught my eye with his innocent looks and the great amount of happiness that housed his little body. I was amused watching him play with other children in the open ground in his village in Alsilw district, Taizz. Only later did I learn that his mother died during labor due to the lack of health care services. I thought of how the world would be for a little child without a mother taking care of him. Sadly, Mohammed’s case is not accidental.  According to official reports, eight women die giving birth every day in Yemen. Almost 84 percent of all births in Yemen take place at home, and only 20 percent of these births have trained attendants present, according to UNFPA. Of the mothers who die during labor, 75 percent could be saved by the presence of skilled birth attendants and access to health centers. These challenges are now exacerbated by the ongoing armed conflict, since the mounting lack of access to health systems are resulting in more deaths amongst children and women. UNDP Yemen has launched the Private Business Midwifery Project, aiming to empower unemployed midwives by developing their businesses, harnessing their untapped midwifery skills, and establishing clinics … Read more

From neglect to respect Changing Georgias mental health approach

15 Sep 2015 by Lisa Lenz, Democratic governance intern, UNDP in Georgia

hospitalPsychiatric hospital in Tbilisi. Photo: Melissa Stonehill/UNDP
Visiting a psychiatric clinic can leave a lasting impression. I had the opportunity to visit a psychiatric hospital in Tbilisi to meet the doctors and experts taking part in designing a national reform of mental healthcare in Georgia. This co-design work is largely supported by UNDP, the Government of Sweden, and civil society organizations. The first thing I noticed was the hospital’s size. The huge concrete building looked left over from the Soviet era. Even after entering, it seemed more like an administrative center than a hospital housing more than 150 patients. Dr. Eka Chkonia, however, looked young, energetic and eager to turn things around. She told me that the ongoing reforms sought to address numerous problems inherited from the Soviet healthcare system, when those with psychiatric disorders were often hidden away from a society. “Even in the 90s, we still had old-fashioned psychiatric hospitals focused on chronic patients only, with no room for acute stress cases. We are changing that now. We also work to integrate mental health services into general hospitals across the country,” she explained. These changes are part of a five-year National Action Plan, developed by over 70 mental health professionals and experts with the support of UNDP. … Read more

Making education the gate way in Tanzanias growth

15 Sep 2015 by Amarakoon Bandara, Economic Advisor, UNDP in Zimbabwe

kids sit in circleConsultative process in Tanzania on post-2015 with young people while filming the documentary ‘Listen to Us’. Photo: UNFPA
In this blog series, UNDP experts and practitioners share their experiences and views on working with the Millennium Development Goals. With a per capita income of just around $310 in 2000, Tanzania’s march towards achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDG) was a remarkable story – a very poor country putting so much effort into so many areas. Tanzania won’t achieve most of the goals, but the efforts it has made are noteworthy. One goal that stands out is the MDG 2: to achieve universal primary education by 2015. With the abolition of tuition fees and the introduction of the Primary Education Development Plan (PEDP), which increased the number of classrooms and new teachers, Tanzania saw rapid improvements in primary enrolment. By 2010, the Net Enrolment Rate (NER) had reached 95.4%, from 54.2% in 1990. In 2010, the country won the MDG Award for education. I might have been the proudest non-Tanzanian, since as the MDG focal point there, I submitted its case for the award. After receiving the award, the Tanzanian Prime Minister noted, “This award is like putting fuel on an engine.” That is exactly the argument we made in our submission. Of course, not all agreed with the award. Questions … Read more

Protecting and ensuring space for civil society

14 Sep 2015 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, Director, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, New York

 For an individual to fully belong to and be recognized in society they must have the most basic legal documentation to which they are entitled by law. Sri Lankans register for birth certificates and National Identiy Cards (NIC) at a mobile legal aid clinic. Photo: UNDP in Sri Lanka
This year’s theme for the International Day of Democracy, “Making Space for Civil Society”, is extremely timely.  Reports by many civil society organisations and networks – many of which are echoed in the recently released State of Civil Society Report 2015 by CIVICUS – point to the worrying number of at least 96 countries where serious threats to civic freedoms were reported in 2014. The scale and the depth of these threats is of great concern. I agree with UNDP’s Civil Society Advisory Committee, whose “first and foremost concern is the shrinking legal, policy and participatory space for civil society activists and organizations, in an increasing number of countries across regions and political regimes.” While it was once true that countries in crisis and post-conflict periods are the ones where civil societies have been most at risk, we now see similar threats spreading across a range of development contexts. A free and vibrant non-government sector is indeed seen as a threat by many governments. So they over-regulate civil society organizations, putting in place restrictions on their funding, taxing, membership, registration, and thus, their functioning. On the other hand, peaceful and inclusive societies tend not to fear meaningful interactions between the State … Read more

Becoming the Zero Hunger generation: Achieving food security for all

14 Sep 2015 by Paloma Durán, Director, Sustainable Development Goals Fund

Farmers in MadagascarIncreasing agricultural productivity, especially on small and family farms, is key to ensuring food security. Photo: UNDP Madagascar
As we approach the UN Sustainable Development Summit, when world leaders will come together to adopt a new global development agenda, it is critically important that we keep what is at stake firmly in sight. A central issue like hunger, which is a long standing development priority, remains an everyday battle for almost 795 million people worldwide. While this figure is 216 million less than in 1990-92, according to UN statistics, hunger kills more people every year than malaria, AIDS and tuberculosis combined. In the words of José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, “The near-achievement of the Millennium Development Goals hunger targets shows us that we can indeed eliminate the scourge of hunger in our lifetime. We must be the Zero Hunger generation. That goal should be mainstreamed into all policy interventions and at the heart of the new sustainable development agenda to be established this year.” So where do we stand if food security is destined to be a critical component of poverty eradication and sustainable development? The right to food is a basic human right addressed in the second of the 17 proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which includes a target to end … Read more