Our Perspective

      • What we call “natural” disasters are not natural at all | Jo Scheuer

        12 Oct 2012

        Over 4,000 families in Cambodia wait to return to homes inundated by flash floods in September 2012. Photo: ActionAid Cambodia/Savann Oeurm

        As you read this, over 4,000 families in Cambodia, where I used to live, wait to return to homes inundated by flash floods that have killed at least 14 people in the last few days. Most of these displaced people are subsistence farmers. Many will have lost everything they own, including their crops or food stores, and these floods may drag them further into a cycle of poverty. But these 4,000 Cambodian families are not unique. Every day around the world, disasters caused by natural hazards force thousands from their homes, strip people of their livelihoods and stop them from accessing schools, hospitals and markets. In 2011, the most expensive year on record for natural hazards, 106 million people were affected by floods, 60 million by drought, and almost 30,000 people were killed. Disasters put hard won development achievements at risk, reverse progress towards the elimination of poverty, and result in terrible suffering. But it doesn’t have to be like this. What we call natural disasters are not natural at all. A natural hazard only becomes a disaster when measures to mitigate its impact, such as earthquake resistant buildings, are lacking. We don’t have to resign ourselves to the devastation thatRead More

      • The future we want needs legal empowerment and justice | Magdy Martinez

        05 Oct 2012

        Roma in Osh, Kyrgyzstan. Photo: UNDP in Europe & CIS

        The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have been successful on many levels. They could be understood by all. They could be implemented universally. They have become the development horizon for 140 governments in the South and the coherent cooperation agenda for another 50 governments of the North. Clear, quantifiable and time-bound goals and targets were at the core of this success. But new challenges have arisen. For development to be effective, inclusive and sustainable, governance values, systems and institutions are needed. Formulation of the post MDG development agenda needs to be a broad-based and inclusive process, which reflects the demands and priorities of the people most impacted by development policy, i.e. the poor and marginalized groups.   Recently, Ms. Aminata Toure, the Minister of Justice of Senegal, noted that while the youth in her country express patience with the slow pace of infrastructure and social development, they will no longer stand the injustice in their society. In last week’s Financial Times, George Soros and Sir Fazle Abed argue that legal identity and birth registration are universal rights and key to the enjoyment of many development goals including education, health and access to employment. It is a goal of legal empowerment of theRead More

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