It is time to focus on the real drivers of malaria

24 Apr 2015 by Dudley Tarlton, Programme Specialist, Health and Development

A mother and child recover from malaria in a hospital in Burundi. A mother and child recover from malaria in a hospital in Burundi. The Government provides free health care for pregnant women and children under five. Photo: Maria Cierna/UNDP
Eliminating malaria seems like a straightforward issue. The parasitic infection is transmitted to people through bites from infected mosquitoes. So if we prevent the mosquito bites, we avoid the infection. But decades of malaria control efforts show there is more to the story. Much of our vulnerability to malaria, it turns out, is determined by human actions. The conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age define to a great extent who is vulnerable to malaria and who is not. Malaria is both a result and a cause of a lack of development. We know that it is those countries with the lowest levels of human development that are most affected by malaria. And within populations, those living in the poorest circumstances also suffer disproportionately. We have long understood the impact malaria has on development. We are now better understanding the impact development has on malaria. The factors that determine malaria risk are shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources. The key interventions to prevent malaria (bed nets, insecticide spraying, and access to treatments) are well known, but eliminating the disease will require a broader range of actions. Efforts to improve housing and infrastructure development, sanitation, agricultural … Read more

Africa and Climate Finance – The state of the debate

23 Apr 2015 by Alice Ruhweza, Regional Team Leader for the Global Environment Finance Unit in Africa

In this blog series, our experts share their thoughts and lessons learned on key financing for development issues, in the run-up to the UN’s Financing for Development conference in July. Africa is the region that has contributed the least to global greenhouse gas emissions but, along with Small Island Developing Countries, is among the most vulnerable to climate change. It is estimated that the cost of Africa's adaptation to climate change will be between $10-30 billion a year by 2030. This will not only cost governments billions of dollars, but threatens the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people. Climate finance to Africa has been growing considerably. Recent data indicates that USD 2.3 billion has been approved for 453 projects and programs throughout Sub-Saharan Africa since 2003. However, only 45% of approved funding is delivered for adaptation measures. In the run-up to the UN’s 3rd International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD), in Addis Ababa in July 2015, the UN’s regional commissions organized consultations aiming at providing inputs from a regional perspective. Some participants questioned whether climate finance should be part of the discussions, given that the UNFCCC is already focused on this issue, and that this will be … Read more

IATI and the UN System: Leading by example on open data

20 Apr 2015 by Annelise Parr, Effective Development Cooperation Specialist, Bureau for Development Policy

The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) represents a chance for the UN family to lead the movement toward greater openness, transparency, accountability and effectiveness in development cooperation. The IATI Standard, a common, open format for publishing data, makes it possible for anyone – a government official, an NGO project manager, a journalist, an ordinary citizen – to see clearly what is being funded where, by whom, and by how much. At the time of writing, eleven of the 32 members and observers of the UN Development Group are publishing to IATI. They are OCHA, UN Women, UNCDF, UNDP, UNESCO, UNFPA, UN-Habitat, UNICEF, UNOPS, WFP and the World Bank. This is a strong start – but it is by no means enough. Discussions around the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals highlight that greater access to information enables individuals to hold leaders and development actors accountable. One step towards mobilizing  resources for a common purpose is to publish information about them in a common way. In this critical year of transition for the global development discourse, the UN must be at the forefront of making development activity as open, transparent and traceable as current technology and resources will allow. The UN System must embrace … Read more

Five things we would do if we were really serious about finance for development

16 Apr 2015 by Ben Slay, Senior Advisor for UNDP Regional Hub for Europe and the CIS

wind turbines in CroatiaReducing fossil fuel subsidies in favor of green energy. Photo: UNDP in Croatia
In this blog series, our experts share their thoughts and lessons learned on key financing for development issues, in the run-up to the UN’s Financing for Development conference in July. It is now widely agreed that finance for development discussions should not only be about more money for official development assistance or climate finance. They should be about aligning international and domestic trade and financial systems with the logic of sustainable development. This raises the question: What would financial systems look like if we were really serious about sustainable development? Here are five things we would do: 1) Triple bottom line accounting. Governments would ensure that Wall Street and other leading capital markets could not trade companies that do not report transparently on the social and environmental (as well as financial) consequences of their activities. 2) Crackdown on tax havens. The world’s leading governments would crack down on off-shore tax havens. At issue is not enforcing high tax regimes, or even preventing tax competition. It is about preventing tax evasion and tax avoidance by multinational corporations and the wealthy who can best afford to make use of tax havens. 3) Financial transactions tax. We would admit that global financial markets work … Read more

Vanuatu begins rebuilding but faces severe challenges

14 Apr 2015 by Silke von Brockhausen, Communication Specialist, Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy

Damage from Cyclone Pam in VanuatuCyclone Pam has passed, but Vanuatu residents will need months, if not years, to recover from its devastation. Photo: Silke von Brockhausen/UNDP
Descending into Vanuatu’s international airport in Port Vila, I could see the devastation Cyclone Pam caused on March 13, sweeping nearly two dozen islands.  What used to be a lush green landscape is washed brown by saltwater, trees are dead and uprooted, and houses have lost their roofs. More than half of the population was affected by the cyclone. 15,000 homes got destroyed and 96% of the country’s crops as well as coconut and banana trees are wiped out. A true disaster for a country that relies heavily on subsistence farming for food security and income. Two weeks into the emergency, I was meeting with communities in the capital Port Vila and witnessed the impressive resilience of the people of this island nation. Even though their need for basic humanitarian assistance such as food, water, medical aid and shelter was still high, people had started to rebuild their lives on their own. Roofs were being fixed, roads cleared, uprooted trees cut and piled up, damaged bridges restored and those who could were going back to work. One of the severe challenges communities are now facing is lack of employment and income. “Because of the disaster, markets are closed and women can’t … Read more