Our Perspective

      • Myanmar today and the challenges ahead | Toily Kurbanov

        12 Sep 2013

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        Women in Myanmar's Chin State are empowered through UNDP skills training and workshops in finance. (Photo: UNDP Myanmar)

        If you’ve been following developments in Myanmar, you will surely know that the country is undergoing at least three simultaneous transformations:  •  Nation-building: shifting from a country at war with itself to a strong, harmonious Union  •  Political transformation: moving from decades of repressive military rule to participatory democracy  •  Economic transformation: emerging from an autarchic, command-based system to a market economy Hundreds of pages and thousands of cables have been written in the last year and a half—and studied scrupulously from Beijing to Brussels to Boston—about this transformation. Few reports seem to have left room for understatement, and rightly so, because the reforms we are witnessing here indeed merit adjectives such as “historic,” “dramatic” and “breathtaking.” But words alone fall short in capturing what we see inside the country:  more than 60 million human stories taking new turns here and now. For example:  •  A father in the former capital, Yangon, a former day labourer turned proud entrepreneur thanks to new openings in the economy;  •  A wife in the commercial capital, Mandalay, once a victim of domestic  violence and now an NGO activist advocating women’s empowerment;  •  A teenage boy in southern Mon State, once an escaped child soldierRead More

      • Adapting to climate change in Tuvalu | Yusuke Taishi

        11 Sep 2013

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        A project to fight climate change in Tuvalu is helping islanders plant drought-tolerant crops and cultivate home gardens. (Photo: UNDP Fiji Multi-Country Office)

        Every time my Air Pacific flight approaches Tuvalu – an atoll nation consisting of nine inhabited islands – and I look through the window down at the narrow strips of land, my mind wanders back in time to the first Polynesian people who embarked on a long voyage more than 2,000 years ago. I don’t know what drove them to endure the hardship of traveling across the vast ocean, but I do know what stopped them once they reached the land that is now known as Tuvalu: fresh water. But, as climate change impacts rainfall patterns and rising sea levels increase the salinity of groundwater, the water that lured Polynesians to Tuvalu can now be a reason that drives their descendants away from their ancestral lands.    Tuvaluans can no longer rely on drinking groundwater and depend almost entirely on rainwater collected and stored in tanks. In 2011 Tuvalu went through one of its driest spells ever, with very little rainfall over a 6-month period, bringing the country into a national state of emergency. While the average person is estimated to consume 100 litres of water per day, the water ration was reduced to two buckets per day per household atRead More

      • 'Neither a producer nor user be': Zambia and cluster munitions | Kanni Wignaraja

        09 Sep 2013

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        A survivor of two cluster bomb accidents in Iraq. Many communities around the world have suffered from the devastation caused by cluster munitions, the use of which Zambia is working to end. (Photo: Giovanni Diffidenti)

        Zambia is familiar with the issue of cluster munitions, a form of explosive weapon that can be air-dropped or ground-launched and releases smaller sub-munitions. Commonly known as cluster bombs, they are designed to kill people, destroy vehicles or buildings and disperse over wide swaths of land. The bombs that remain as unexploded ordnance stay dormant for years, and kill and maim children or farmers clearing forests and fields long after a conflict has ended. A national survey conducted in Zambia between 2006 and 2009 revealed that landmines, which pose similar threats, still existed in six border provinces, and remnants of cluster munitions were found in the western and northwestern regions of the country, a cruel legacy of neighboring conflicts. Cluster bombs are an impediment to development, and costly to locate and remove, a price borne by a country that was never a producer or a user of cluster munitions. This is not a new story, nor is it a Zambia story alone, as many communities around the world have suffered from the devastation caused by cluster munitions, across generations. But the motto “neither a user nor a producer be” accurately defines Zambia’s role as a standard-bearer on the issue, and shouldRead More