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School children are consulted on the reconstruction process, by expressing and drawing their needs and desires for their new schools.

On November 26, 2019, Albania woke up to the most severe natural disaster in recent history. A 6.3 magnitude earthquake left 51 people dead, injured at least 913 others and affected 220,000 people — roughly 10 percent of the population.

The earthquake devastated the Albanian economy and exacerbated the existing poverty rate by 2.3 percent and GDP dropped by more than one percent.

One year on, destruction is still visible, offering a stark reminder that life has irrevocably changed for many.

Based on the findings of the Post Disaster Needs Assessment, undertaken by the European Union, World Bank, United Nations (with UNDP as the technical lead) and the Albanian Government, UNDP’s long-term support has focused on investing in rebuilding public infrastructure, including education facilities, strengthening the country’s disaster preparedness, and helping local economies. …


A surge in violence against women and girls

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Violence against women and girls has skyrocketed as the social, mental and economic toll of the months-long lockdown have taken hold. “We have no time to waste — preventing and addressing gender-based violence must be effectively integrated into our COVID-19 efforts,” said Mirjana Spoljaric Egger, Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Europe and the CIS. Illustration: Mary Long/Shutterstock.com

Violence against women and girls, already one of the most serious social problems we face, becomes worse in every type of emergency, and the COVID-19 crisis is no different.

The numbers are almost beyond comprehension; even before COVID-19, some 243 million women had been abused by a partner in the previous 12 months.

Not only is that number almost certainly underreported — it’s estimated that less than 40 percent of women report or seek help for assault — it has skyrocketed as the social, mental and economic toll of the months-long lockdown have taken hold. …


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Dr. Ali Abdullah Abbas, 30, is a Senior Resident physician in Baquba General Hospital in Diyala.

Nurses walk quickly around the wards; patient monitors beep in the distance, doctors assess their patients in intensive care rooms — it’s just another day for frontline health workers in Iraq. In Diyala and Kirkuk — and indeed across the entire country — the speed and frequency of this routine has intensified with the continued rise of COVID-19.

Their efforts are supported by UNDP Iraq, who is working with the Government of Iraq to build much-needed COVID-19 isolation units in 14 health facilities to fight the pandemic and serve those most in need.

In Diyala, known as the orange capital of the Middle East due to its production of oranges and citrus fruit, the economy rests on agriculture, including dates and olive groves. Falling into disrepair under ISIL’s occupation, and at one point used as a defensive line by ISIL forces, critical infrastructure and services crumbled. After liberation from ISIL in 2015, a number of rehabilitation projects were launched in the governorate, led by UNDP Iraq in consultation with authorities in Diyala, to restore much-needed infrastructure and to provide for basic needs. …


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A resident wades through a section of the flooded area in Belet Weyne, Somalia in April 2018. Somalia persistently suffers from flooding, including the 2019 floods which displaced 500,00 people. Photo: UN Photo/Ilyas Ahmed

Somalia has come a long way in the last few years. The economy has been growing steadily and recent agreements on debt relief should boost funding for health, infrastructure and other development projects. Government services are expanding to reach more people every year. Progress on constitutional reform and power-sharing arrangements are paving the way for long-term stability.

But alarm bells started going off last year. In November 2019, huge floods displaced more than half a million people — the latest in a series of inundations that cost hundreds of millions of dollars almost every year. Shortly after, the same rains that had washed away homes and farms created the perfect growing conditions for the largest locust invasion for a quarter of a century. …


A clean, sustainable and cheap energy source guarantees the well-being of rural communities and reduces deforestation in Botswana.

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Lobaste brigade students building a biodigester on a cattle farm in Rhamatlabama.

Botswana is more than half a million square kilometres and its 2.5 million inhabitants are thinly spread over a large area. To build and maintain an electrical grid in these circumstances is a challenge. At the same time, the country is one of Africa’s largest producers of cattle. About 2.5 million cows, 300,000 goats and 200,000 sheep graze fields in the rural areas where access to energy is the most complex.

So why not use energy that is abundant, safe, and just as sustainable as solar power? …


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Farmers harvest lavender on the Sanicula farm in Gornja Mutnica, Serbia.

The endless fields of immortelle and lavender might conjure up images of the south of France, only it’s not in the Mediterranean, but in eastern Serbia. The picturesque sight is in the town of Gornja Mutnica, in the vicinity of Paracin, on about 315 hectares of land owned by the Serbian-Belgian company Sanicula. As well as lavender, other typical Mediterranean plants such as lemon balm, thyme and heather are organically grown. After the harvest season, these plants are distilled into essential oils which, due to their quality, are attractive for customers on the world market.

There are benefits for the local community too. The company employs about 200 families from nearby villages. Every morning, they start the day with a cup of coffee made by Novica Šutić, founder and owner of the company. …


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After serving in conflict for 17 years, Sathyandan was sent for rehabilitation to help him integrate back into civilian society. Two years later, he is now the owner of ‘Kani Product’, a company that sells fruit flavoured drinks.

At the entrance of Sathyandan’s house hangs a painting that depicts diversity and harmony among different ethnicities in Sri Lanka. Promoting reconciliation requires reintegrating ex-combatants into civilian life and this is essential for post-conflict recovery.

Sathyanadan and his four brothers were born in Paranthan, Kilinochchi. In 1988 his brothers had to fight in the conflict.

“During the Mullaitivu battle in 1996, I lost my right hand and two of my brothers died,” he says.

After serving in the conflict for 17 years, he was sent for rehabilitation to help him integrate back into civilian society. Two years later, he is now the owner of ‘Kani Product’, a company that sells fruit flavoured drinks. …


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Asunción park rangers have risen as the heroes, alongside fire fighters, in greening the city. Photo UNDP Paraguay/Francisco Troncoso

Paraguay is a country of friends. A common saying among citizens of this unique land, located in the heart of South America. In the evergreen city of Asunción, we have found this to be true in all areas of UNDP’s work. It is especially the case of the project “Asunción Green Gity of the Americas — Pathways to Sustainability”, led by Paraguay’s Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MADES) and implemented by UNDP, with financing from the Global Environment Facility. …


At a time when businesses are seeing dark days due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a few organizations in Nepal have been helping women make steady incomes by producing masks.

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Bina Pariyar, 42 of Tarkeshore, Kathmandu, Nepal is one of the local artisans working for Hatemalo Women’s Group. She is among other local entreprenuers affected by the COVID pandemic but after her engagement with Hatemalo Women’s Group, she has been sewing local masks and earning Rs.1000(US $8.5) per day.

“Sewing is not just my passion, it is also my livelihood,” says Bina Pariyar of Tarkeshore, Balaju, Kathmandu. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit earlier this year, Bina’s source of income dried up. Desperate to make a living, she thought about taking up other jobs. But sewing was the only thing that Bina knew, and she tried to make the best of the opportunity that came her way. “Masks were being used widely, so my friends and I started to make masks on our own,” she says. …


Let’s ensure that #HalfTheWorld isn’t left behind by the COVID-19 and climate crises

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Clockwise from top left: UNDP Goodwill Ambassador, author and television host Padma Lakshmi; actor and environmentalist Ronen Rubinstein; and entrepreneur, advocate and model, Alexis Ren kick off the ‘World Is In Our Hands’ campaign. Photos: Justin Wu

UNDP is launching a global campaign to end poverty and raise awareness of the alarming rate at which COVID-19 and climate change are increasing inequalities around the world.

Among those hit hardest by both crises are the 4 billion people–fifty percent of the world’s population–who live in poverty and lack any social protections, such as unemployment benefits or healthcare. The World Bank estimates that up to 150 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty by 2021.

If we don’t address the COVID-19 and climate crises together, half of the world will be left behind. …

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UN Development Programme

Transforming our world #By2030. Visit us at www.undp.org

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