Deng Gore Makuei, a Blue Messenger Bicycle mobilizer makes rounds in central Juba, February 2021.

In 2020, South Sudan grappled with historic floods, the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns, economic fluctuations, and recurrent local conflicts. Many found their families newly displaced or affected by these compounding challenges.

While coping with unpredictable events and movements, the most vulnerable people in South Sudan have less access to life-saving information. Recognizing this vast unmet need in communities, a network of young innovators in South Sudan founded Voice Post as a social enterprise under the slogan “Information is Aid”.

“We believe information is a human right and therefore not affording a radio should not be a barrier to getting…

On Earth Day, a young climate activist shares what inspires her

Meet Paloma Costa. This Brazilian climate activist, lawyer, and member of the UN Secretary-General’s Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change is gently shaking the world with her passion for climate justice.

In the last few years, young people around the world have changed the conversation on climate. They have elevated the urgency of the issue to a global emergency and spoken up to protect present and future generations.

I had the pleasure of meeting Paloma first in 2018 in preparation for the UN Climate Action Summit. She spoke at the launch of the Climate Promise, UNDP’s commitment to support countries…

In Baidoa, Somalia, Khowla, 25, talks with village elders at the Alternative Dispute Resolution Centre. Photo: UNDP Somalia/Said Fadhaye

On a typically hot and bright afternoon in Aweil town, north-western South Sudan, Nafisa takes her seat in a small patch of shade under some trees. She joins 14 other members in a recently-established peace committee set up to defuse any tensions or other problems that may be arising among tribal communities.

Nafisa is more invested in the committee’s success than most. Her son, Nuer, is married to a Dinka woman, two groups historically often in conflict with each other. She hopes her work can prevent the tensions that have plagued much of South Sudan in previous years.

“Our people…

A new way for Bosnia and Herzegovinians to avoid land mines

Mišo Pamučina, the Demining Coordinator for Public Institution Ecology and Safety, right, uses the Mine Suspected Areas app.

Carefree is not a word Dea would associate with her childhood. Nor was that the feeling of other local residents of Ljubljenica village in Bosnia and Herzegovina — some fled the area after the war that left mines across the country, others faced challenges in using their fields to graze livestock or to cut and gather woods from the local forests.

Now 20, Dea is a computer science student in Mostar. …

For a local community in Thailand, their wetland forest is a foundation of livelihood and culture.

Srongpol Chantharueang, Chair of the Boon Rueang Wetland Conservation Group, rows a boat in the Ing river to check his fish traps. Photo: RECOFTC

“World Water Day makes us realize that water is vital for life and is inextricably linked to our way of life and to the wetland forests we depend on. This is why the water is important to us.” — Boon Rueang Wetland Forest Conservation Group.

Downstream from the Doi Yao mountain range in Northern Thailand lies the Ing River, home of Thailand’s largest wetland forest and a biodiversity hotspot. Situated on the plain between the mountains and river is the Boon Rueang community. Water touches all parts of life for the people and habitats in this 483-hectare forest. It supports…

A COVID-19 emergency response food distribution. UNDP is working with its partners in Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka to muster the resources to prevent more unnecessary death and suffering. Photo: UNDP Bangladesh/Fahad Kaizer

The health and socioeconomic inequalities inherent in the COVID-19 pandemic are creating even wider gaps between the haves and the have nots.

As wealthy countries expand their vaccination programmes and begin to emerge from lockdown, a second deadly wave of the virus — along with more contagious and dangerous varients — has hit South Asia, and in many cases is overwhelming efforts to contain and prevent it.

UNDP is working with its partners in Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka to muster the resources to prevent more unnecessary death and suffering.

Because the pandemic’s socio-economic consequences are widespread…

A health worker prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre in Refinery Community Hall in Guwahati, Assam, India, May 2021. Photo: UNDP India/Biju Boro

At the end of every day, health worker Amrit Kaur uses her smartphone to log in details of vaccines utilized and those in stock for immunization. Her smartphone app helps her manage the vaccine stocks at the Female District Hospital of Haridwar, in the hill state of Uttarakhand. Kaur is one of the 48,366 vaccine and cold chain handlers who was trained by UNDP as part of the Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network, or the eVIN — a digital technology introduced by the government of India to digitize vaccine stocks and monitor temperature of the cold chain.

“I have been working…

The ports of Yemen are responsible for 60 to 70 percent of all imports to Yemen.

COVID-19 has made what was already the world’s worst humanitarian and development crisis in Yemen even more deadly. Time after time, Yemenis must overcome economic, social, and political hurdles just to survive.

Today, more than 16 million Yemenis do not know where their next meal will come from, but it’s not because food is not available. It is, but it’s very expensive.

Many Yemenis have been forced to flee their homes, and leave their jobs behind, and begin heavily relying on humanitarian and development aid. …

India’s four million Safai Saathis form the backbone of the country’s waste management system. Photo: UNDP India/Raja Venkatapathy

Rihana Bibi collects and segregates waste in Cuttack, in the Indian state of Odisha.

Every day she travels three kilometres to reach the Swachhta Kendra, facilities where waste is collected and separated before it’s sent for recycling.

She’s one of India’s four million Safai Saathis, who form the backbone of the country’s waste management system.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought extra difficulties for her. At first she couldn’t earn any money at all because as an informal worker, she didn’t have a valid identity card. When she did go back to work there was the extra danger to contend with.

Reviving the coffee and cocoa plantations of Mexico

Shade grown cocoa trees, bottom right. “The management of cocoa under shade, not only helps us to maintain biodiversity but also to maintain the microclimate, water services and stop the deterioration of the landscape”, says DERMAC project advisor Luis Villafuerte.

“Every day at the office we drink Kajwel Tøjk coffee,” says María from the Indigenous Organic Producers Zoques AC, in Ocotepec, Chiapas, Mexico. She and her husband are the models for the product whose label includes the organization’s motto “Respect for nature and the hands that work it.”

How can we ensure coffee growing promotes biodiversity? Artemio Cruz, president of the cooperative explains it by showing the nursery, where not only are coffee plants, but also a variety of trees. The coffee is shade-grown, which means it’s not only high quality, but beneficial for the environment.

“We work with the…

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