How a village shaken by COVID-led economic slowdown is using local skills to generate income for the community

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Photo: ArturTona/Shutterstock.com

Gyan Bahadur Gurung started farming potatoes about three years ago on a large plot of land about a three-hour walk from his village of Olang in Gorkha district, a remote region of Nepal. Gurung, along with other Olang locals, grew about four to five tonnes of potatoes every year.

But as production grew, they ran into a problem. They had no storage facilities for the potatoes and much of the large harvest was going to waste.

“We had been growing a lot of potatoes but as we didn’t have a proper storage facility, our potatoes were spoiling,” said Gurung, 56. “We needed something more, a safe place to store our produce.” …


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Through UNDP’s Strengthening Livelihoods Security for Peace and Recovery in Darfur Project, internally displaced women learned leatherwork, building on local practices to create practical, high-quality and lucrative in-demand products such as wallets, baskets, shoes, bags and decorative items.

Aisha Khatir painfully recounts the ordeal she went through 16 years ago when the Darfur conflict reached her home. After her village in South Darfur was destroyed, she and her eight children had no choice but to flee.

Together, they trekked 240 kilometres to safety in South Darfur’s capital Nyala. “I had to leave my husband and stepson behind,” she says. She would later find out they had both been killed.

Settling in a camp for the internally displaced, Aisha had limited options to support her family. Turning to one of few available, she eked out a living of less than US$1 day collecting raw materials such as broken stones for construction to sell to workers at nearby markets. …


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Through resilience and creativity, the Garay family started a new baked goods business after they closed their minimarket due to the pandemic.

Entrepreneurship has always implied risk, and even more so in a pandemic. When COVID-19 coronavirus paralyzed Peru, most companies turned to their savings to sustain themselves during what initially was thought to be a two-week quarantine. But limitations continued. “The hardest thing was closing our minimarket and being locked up for several months, hardly capable of believing this was actually happening,” says entrepreneur Liz Garay. While some businesses fell others, such as Liz and her family, completely reinvented themselves. “We kept adapting and as such, this adversity provided new opportunities,” she says.

“An entrepreneur is not only someone who opens a business, but also someone whom, despite what might happen, maintains the desire to move forward,” says Ms Garay, inspired by her mother who in this emergency started a gastronomic venture. “The idea was born out of a conversation with her and my brother. We always told her she has magic hands because she has the talent for cooking,” she says about the desserts sale her family has undertaken to cover their debts. …


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Zimbabwe’s informal food economy is the second largest in the world and some of the most vulnerable people depend on it for their livelihoods. It’s important to know how that economy works, and especially how it is being affected by the 2020 pandemic.

We took a data-driven approach to this challenge. We began by asking ourselves two questions. What are the factors determining the price of goods? Second, how has the COVID-19 pandemic changed those systems, and how has it stressed the economy’s weak points?

Like any informal economy, Zimbabwe’s is complicated — the price and availability of basic produce is determined by many intertwined social, economic and environmental factors. …


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Nemonte Nenquimo, an indigenous and environmental activist from the Ecuadorian Amazon region. Photo: Jeronimo Zuñiga

One of this year’s most powerful voices in human rights is Nemonte Nenquimo, an indigenous and environmental activist from the Ecuadorian Amazon region. This International Day of Human Rights, we reflect on how Nemonte’s leadership, and the leadership of Indigenous peoples around the world, matter for the future of the planet.

Keeping forests standing, and oil in the ground.

For years, Nemonte has been fighting for Indigenous peoples’ right to a healthy environment, free from oil exploration. As president of the Coordinating Council of the Waorani Nationality of Ecuador-Pastaza, and co-founder of Alianza Ceibo, Nemonte was able to overturn a court ruling in Ecuador earlier this year, preventing the government from selling land in the Amazon to oil companies on the Waorani territory. …


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The objective of Costa Rica´s NDC is to focus its climate change actions on increasing society’s resilience to the impact of climate change and strengthening the country’s capacity for low-emission development in the long-term. Photo: UNDP Costa Rica/Priscilla Mora Flores

The Paris Agreement in 2015 was a landmark in the fight against climate change.

After years of negotiating, every one of the 196 countries, plus the European Union, all Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), agreed on a set of principles to curb greenhouse gas emissions and tackle climate change head on.

The aim of the Paris Agreement is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ensure that global temperatures don’t rise more than 2C above pre-industrial levels this century, and ultimately pursue a scenario where temperature rise remains below 1.5C.

Not too complicated so far, but what are NDCs?


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A Palestinian student peaks out the door during quarantine. As governments try to respond effectively to COVID-19 and its implications, we must ensure that human rights standards and approaches remain at the forefront. Photo: UNDP PAPP/Abed Zagout

Countries around the world are taking all steps possible to prevent, contain and respond to COVID-19. This is necessary to flatten the curve and stem this global pandemic which has implications for all of us: for our health and our human rights. UNDP is committed to rights-based solutions to COVID-19.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a public health emergency — but it is far more. It is an economic crisis. A social crisis. And a human crisis that is fast becoming a human rights crisis.” — United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres

In many societies, exclusion and marginalization mean people live in the shadows– either because they do not have the means, or the power to participate fully in public life and claim their rights, or because rights-holders cannot effectively discharge their obligations. …


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Mauritius is implementing a comprehensive sustainable energy programme to meet its goal of having 35 percent of its electricity produced by renewables by 2025. Photo: UNDP Mauritius/Stephane Bellerose

“The climate crisis will sweep away my country if the world doesn’t keep its promises.”

In his recent plea to step up climate action, the president of Marshall Islands, David Kabua sought to remind the world that for many small island nations, climate change is a very real existential threat.

Small island developing states (SIDS) face a unique set of climate and energy challenges, where dependency on imported fossil fuels and vulnerability to climate change often go hand in hand with high poverty rates and lack of access to reliable energy. …


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The COVID-19 crisis also an opportunity to reset how we live, interact, create policies and make decisions. Photo: UNDP Bangladesh/Fahad Kaizer

The COVID-19 pandemic is threatening human well-being and hard-won development gains in every corner of the world — and risks derailing efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda. But the crisis also an opportunity to reset how we live, interact, create policies and make decisions.

We recently showed that the pandemic could push the total number of people living in extreme poverty to over one billion by 2030. In the same study, we also found that 48 targeted and integrated investments in governance, social protection, digitalization and green economy can help the world exceed the trajectory we were on before the pandemic, even when taking COVID impacts into account. …


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Since a very young age, Ghali has had a passion for computers. He taught himself several programming languages such as Java, Python and many more. He even developed a mobile application that provides text to voice translation to help him communicate and overcome his speech impediment. Photo: UNDP Syria

Ghali, 18, lives with cerebral palsy that affects his movement, coordination and speech. Life hasn’t been easy since conflict forced him and his family to flee their home in Daraa for the Syrian capital, Damascus.

Like many people with disabilities in Syria, Ghali has been grappling with many barriers that hinder his full and meaningful participation. Nine years of the current violent crisis in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, have only exacerbated his experience of exclusion.

Ghali, which means “precious” in Arabic, has just graduated from high school and is looking forward to college. Since a very young age, he had a passion for computers. With what available resources he could find online, and sheer determination, he taught himself several programming languages such as Java, Python and many more. He even developed a mobile application that provides text to voice translation to help him communicate and overcome his speech impediment. …

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