28. Cooperative Market Development Program for Farmers in NepalOn Feb. 2, the government of Nepal and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) signed an agreement to launch the Cooperative Market Development Program throughout the South Asian country.

According to the press release on the UNDP website, the aim of this program is to help farmers in Nepal by increasing the quality and stability of agricultural production. The program would accomplish this through improvements in infrastructure, training on new, updated farming techniques and development of marketing methods.

Importance of Agriculture

Agricultural production is crucial for the majority of Nepal’s population, where it serves as a form of occupation for 68 percent of the people.

Although agriculture is the main livelihood for a majority of the population, Nepal still faces certain challenges when it comes to producing enough food for its population. USAID reports that Nepalese citizens do not receive a sufficient amount of food.

Food Deficiency

This food deficiency has led to 36 percent of children under the age of five to suffer from malnutrition and its accompanying effects; however, the situation in Nepal is more optimistic then these statistics make it seem. The International Labour Organization (ILO) reports that in the last decade, poverty in Nepal has gone down from 42 percent to around 24 percent.

The Cooperative Market Development Program will further contribute to this decline in poverty by helping farmers in Nepal innovate their practices.

Development of Farming

The duration of the program will be five years, and will primarily assist six districts in the Kathmandu Valley. While cooperative markets are not new to the farming community in Nepal, a variety of obstacles exist that affect the success of this method.

The UNDP press release states that cooperative farming markets have been hindered by “poor infrastructure, including transport and storage facility, inadequate access to market information and regulatory and institutional bottlenecks.”

The Cooperative Market Development Program has the potential to boost Nepal’s economy by working on a local level throughout the country. This is significant and would benefit Nepalese farmers because currently one-third of supplies for the farming community are imported from other countries, as reported by UNDP.

Long-Term Benefits for Nepal

It is estimated that the program will directly help 14,000 farmers in Nepal, who live throughout the six districts of the Kathmandu valley. The government of Nepal plans to contribute $5 million dollars to the program, while UNDP will contribute $2 million dollars.

The program will take some specific steps to achieve its goals: provide training on various farming-related activities such as production enhancement, branding and marketing, and create 90 collection centers.

Eliminating Poverty and Hunger

Furthermore, the Cooperative Market Development Program will contribute towards Nepal’s achievement of two of their Sustainable Development Goals: eliminating poverty and hunger.

In addition, improved food production and enhanced quality of fruits and vegetables could help combat malnutrition and food shortage.

Farmers in Nepal will be able to increase their incomes and update their farming practices through this program, which in turn will have a lasting impact on the continued reduction of poverty in Nepal.

– Jennifer Jones

Photo: Flickr

5 Development Projects in Suriname

There are several important development projects in Suriname that are currently taking place to help the country positively progress. The United Nations Development Programme, the Caribbean Development Bank and the Inter-American Bank all currently have active development projects in Suriname.

Suriname’s economy is dependent on mineral resources such as oil, gold and bauxite as well as natural resources, due to the fact that four-fifths of the country is covered by tropical rainforest. The country as a whole, however, still needs help to keep its economy from faltering and to improve climate control.


The UNDP’s Projects

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is one of the organizations that has implemented different development projects in Suriname to assist in the country’s needs when it comes to climate change. The UNDP currently has three active development projects in Suriname called National REDD+ Strategy, Suriname Global Climate Change Alliance and Strengthening the National Assembly of Suriname.

The National REDD+ Strategy project’s purpose is “to ensure success in continuing to preserve Suriname’s natural capital, enhance the value of forest-related services and benefits for its peoples and contribute to the international fight against climate change and the preservation of healthy ecosystems.”

The Suriname Global Climate Change Alliance project’s purpose is to support Suriname in improving its current climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts by providing more knowledge on the effects of climate change and developing tools that target adaptation measures, as well as strengthen capacities for mangrove conservation.

The Strengthening the National Assembly of Suriname project’s purpose is to provide best practices in parliamentary development, good governance, policy guidance and initiate capacity building initiatives.


The CDB’s Projects

The Electricity System Upgrade and Expansion Project is another development project in Suriname that has been created by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the government of Suriname. The project’s objective is to deliver a more reliable, efficient and sustainable electricity supply in Suriname.

When discussing the importance of the project to Suriname, Vice President of Suriname Ashwin Adhin said, “Our government will leave no stones unturned to achieve the objectives necessary to improve the energy sector. We will do this together with CDB and other important people and institutions.”


The IDB’s Projects

Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), which is the largest source of development financing for Latin America and the Caribbean, has also partnered with Suriname to create a developmental project to assist the country’s needs. The IDB Group Country Strategy with Suriname 2016-2020 project’s objective is to support Suriname’s economic stabilization.

This project is complemented by a longer-term view on the modernization of the public and private sectors in the country. Reducing subsidies, lowering public spending while protecting the social safety net, strengthening public administration and strengthening human capital are all important parts of the project’s focus.

Development projects in Suriname like the ones these organizations are implementing will continue to help the country of Suriname in its goal to become a thriving country.

– Kennisha L. Crawford

Photo: Flickr

Development Projects in LebanonLebanon is a small country bordered by the countries Israel and Syria. Since gaining its independence in 1943, Lebanon has experienced turmoil within the country. This includes a civil war that lasted from 1975 to 1990, Syrian military occupation from 1976 to 2005, continued fighting between Israel and the Hezbollah militia and a short-lived war in 2006. In more recent times, over one million registered Syrian refugees have fled to Lebanon due to the ongoing Syrian Civil War. As a result of these events, numerous organizations have been working within Lebanon to address a wide variety of concerns and challenges. Below are five noteworthy development projects in Lebanon that are currently being implemented.

The Lebanon Host Communities Support Programme (LHSP)

The LHSP was created in 2012 under the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in response to the Syrian Civil War and in joint cooperation with the Ministry of Social Affairs. The LHSP works in communities where there is a high risk of tension and hostility due to the high numbers of Syrian refugees resettling in these communities. The total budget is over $39 million, with top donors including Denmark, Ecuador and Italy. The LHSP aims to facilitate conflict resolution, create peaceful coexistence and stability and maintain livelihoods and services, making this project a standout in terms of noteworthy development projects in Lebanon.

The Water Supply Augmentation Project of Lebanon

This project, approved in 2014 and projected to end in 2024, is funded by the World Bank and aims to increase the available water supply to the greater Beirut and Mount Lebanon regions. This project includes various components such as financing and constructing the Bisri Dam, constructing pipelines to the already existing Joun reservoir and expanding the Ouardaniyeh water treatment plant. The total estimated cost of this project is $617 million.

Project Supporting Economic and Social Fund for Development (ESFD)

Another example of development projects in Lebanon is the ESFD, which is also a UNDP affiliated project. It was created in 2011 to improve employment and community development opportunities in Lebanon. Due to UNDP’s strong partnerships with local authorities and actors in various parts of the country, this project will support ESFD in working in poorer regions of Lebanon to assist in job creation and community outreach programs. The sole donor of this project is the Lebanese Council for Development, providing a total of over $12 million to this project.

Lebanon Country Programming Framework (CPF)

The CPF, which was started in 2016, aims to address various issues identified in the Ministry of Agriculture Strategy of 2015-2019 and the Food Security Strategic Response Plan of 2016. This project focuses exclusively on seven distinct areas which include increasing food security in vulnerable communities, improving food sanitation and safety, strengthening reliable nutrition information systems, providing assistance to develop sustainable agricultural practices, implementing sustainable management of land, establishing an efficient agricultural statistics system and promoting the increase of crop value chains.

Sports for Development Project

Launched in 2013, this project is a joint collaboration between the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and HOOPS Club, with the objective of fostering communication between Syrian refugees and Lebanese communities. This project has been implemented in Beirut, Akkar, Baalbek and Sour, where there has been a large influx of Syrian refugee families. This project brings together young people from both communities to encourage interaction and the free exchange of ideas and thoughts. Due to the Syrian Civil War, many Syrian refugee children lost their close network of friends and this project helps to foster friendship and establish harmony between the two communities.

Although Lebanon has experienced a broad range of events and political turmoil in just the last 50 years, there are numerous actors, institutions and organizations that are working to improve the situation in Lebanon. Although these projects listed are noteworthy development projects in Lebanon, they are not alone in working to secure a better and brighter future for Lebanese citizens and those that have just started calling Lebanon their home.

Miho Kitamura

Photo: Flickr

FijiFiji is a developing country that is widely popular with tourists due to its tropical atmosphere. It has a population of over 900,000 people; however, roughly 28 percent of the population lives in poverty. There are several development projects in Fiji being facilitated that seek to address poverty along with other issues currently facing the country.

Community Youth Empowerment Project (CYEP)

The Community Youth Empowerment Project is an initiative by the Peace Corps. The program seeks to focus on the promotion of behavior change and empower youth to live more productive lives. CYEP also includes activities that are targeted towards parents and youth service providers to promote positive youth development. The volunteers who carry out the project often serve as teachers of life skills and health classes in a middle or high school setting. The volunteers also work outside of schools performing community-based development.

One volunteer, Kelli Maddock, uses music as a method of teaching life skills to youth. “Most of the time, I use music therapy techniques such as lyric analysis to enhance critical thinking skills in regards to life skills, singing to boost self-esteem or songwriting to increase confidence,” wrote Maddock in her article for the Peace Corps. One song that Maddock has used is “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke and Pharrell to address the topics of consent, rape culture and victim-blaming.

Fiji Development Bank Project

Seeking to create innovative financial solutions for businesses in Fiji, the Fiji Development Bank Project provides loans for various industries. These loans include commercial loans, bus loans, small and medium business loans and agricultural loans. The project has been established for 50 years this year.

Fiji Community Development Program (FCDP)

Funded by the Australian government, one of the development projects in Fiji is the Fiji Community Development Program. The FCDP seeks to mitigate the social and economic hardships faced by vulnerable and poor communities. It does so by funding community development work and improving the Civil Society Organization’s (CSO) capacity to provide necessary programs for vulnerable communities. The FCDP also focuses on promoting enhanced communication between the government and CSOs and increasing the resilience of the communities by giving them the tools and knowledge needed to deal with hardships when they arise.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

The United Nations Development Programme aims for effective governance, inclusive growth, resilience and sustainable development and gender equality in roughly 170 countries and territories. Their initiatives in Fiji include promoting sign language as a method of acquiring equal access to services and advocating for rights. The UNDP also provides aid to neighboring countries like the Solomon Islands by conducting safety drills for students in preparation for tsunamis and other natural disasters.

Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR)

The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research seeks to improve the development of the Pacific region islands by working with their civil societies and government. The ACIAR believes in the importance of agriculture, forestry and fisheries sustaining households across the Pacific islands, including Fiji. The ACIAR also aims to invest in and empower women, as women play a key role in household food gardening, tree production and the marketing of horticultural and fisheries products. The ACIAR seeks to reduce poverty by transforming agricultural, fisheries and forestry into income-generating activities.

With these development projects in Fiji, the country will be able to continue to grow and reduce its poverty rates.

– Blake Chambers

Photo: Flickr

Malaysia has made great strides in its economic development in recent decades, becoming a regional economic powerhouse on its way to being a high-income nation. Despite a notable increase in income and quality of life, half of the country’s population is still being left behind — there are still a number of barriers to achieving women’s empowerment in Malaysia.

Malaysia is a diverse and multiracial country where the status of women’s empowerment is complex and may depend on their religion and ethnic background. About 60 percent of Malaysians are Muslim Malays, 23 percent are Chinese, 7 percent are Indian and the rest hail from various indigenous groups. The country’s major religions include Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism.

Within Malaysia’s large Muslim community, over 90 percent of women reported undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM), making the country one of the worst offenders in the world for the practice. FGM is spreading in popularity in Malaysia, especially in more conservative Muslim states dominated by religious parties.

While non-Muslim women have equal parenting rights across the country, Muslim women only enjoy those rights in four out of thirteen states. Child marriage is still permitted in Malaysia, and efforts to raise the age of marriage for girls to 18 were defeated in parliament last year.

Despite these challenges, a greater focus has been placed on women’s empowerment in Malaysia, particularly in regard to women entrepreneurs, journalists and politicians. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, the wife of imprisoned former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, is the leader of the country’s opposition and may become Malaysia’s first female prime minister at the next elections in 2018.

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has a project that supports women’s empowerment in Malaysia by aiding low-income women entrepreneurs in the conservative states of Terengganu and Kelantan, enabling them to succeed in the cottage food industry. Women now outnumber men in universities despite constituting a minority of the total population and participation in the labor force has steadily increased in the last two decades.

– Giacomo Tognini

Photo: Flickr

Women's Empowerment in UgandaUganda, a landlocked country in East Africa, has a population of 41.49 million as of 2017. The country’s capital is Kampala and its current president is Yoweri Museveni, who has ruled uninterrupted since he was first elected in 1986. Uganda is a member of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and it strives to emphasize women’s empowerment in Uganda with its Sustainable Inclusive Economic Development (SIED) program. With the UNDP, Uganda partners with UN Women and supports the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), one of which works towards achieving gender equality and empowerment among women.

Although Uganda has worked extensively to empower women in the country, it still has progress to make, says Syda Bbumba, a very prominent female politician in Uganda. Bbumba is the first woman to serve as the Minister of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development in the country. Bbumba recognizes the important improvements that have been made for women’s empowerment in Uganda, but she also calls attention to the support that is still needed to aid women in entrepreneurship. Due to the fact that most property in Africa is owned by men, women lack sufficient access to capital, markets, and collateral, all of which are necessary in helping them grow their businesses. Bbumba recognizes this issue and highlights the need to fix it.

Another area in which the country can improve is through its education. Although the enrolment of girls that attend schools in Uganda is 60 percent (compared to 40 percent among boys), many girls still drop out to work at home due to issues regarding poverty. In other cases, girls drop out to enter into early marriages. The Universal Primary Education (UPE) is working to combat this issue, and has since seen a rise in enrolment rates in Uganda.

In regards to women in government in Uganda, the amount of women that made up the cabinet rose from 23 percent in 2006 to 28 percent in 2011. Similar progress was made among senior ministers, a group that experienced a four percent increase in the number of women who served in these positions. However, there is still progress to be made in the Executive branch, which as of 2011, had yet to reach its 30 percent quota of women serving in this department. An additional area that Bbumba calls attention to is the need for funding in order to help women grow their businesses.

Though there are still issues with women’s empowerment in Uganda, many people and organizations are striving to remedy these problems and have made considerable progress. Influential politicians and organizations alike, such at the Hunger Project, recognize that empowering women creates more resilient communities because when women are supported, health among families increases, as does incomes and the amount of children that attend school.

– Haley Rogers

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Moldova

If ever there were a time capsule left in the world, it would be Moldova. Pictures of Moldovans in traditional clothes, locals driving horse-drawn carriages and a country dedicated to agriculture and the production of wine are among the first photos that come up in an image search. Though online photographs of Moldova are charming, poverty in Moldova has been a definitive characteristic of the nation since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. What was once a wealthy state became the poorest country in Europe after Soviet liberation.

The Statistics
According to The World Bank, Moldova has experienced economic growth and a significant poverty reduction since the start of the millennium.

Poverty in Moldova has dropped from 30 percent in 2006 to 9.6 percent in 2015. The percentage of those living on less than $1.90 a day has dropped from 39.1 percent in 1999 to zero. At its peak, the poverty rate for those living on $5 a day was at 90.4 percent in the year 2000. It has since dropped to 16.3 percent.

Remittance and pensions are responsible for lifting 51.6 percent of families out of poverty, and pensions are sustaining the aging population.

These two factors are acknowledged as the main drivers of economic growth. In fact, the Republic of Moldova is one of the few European countries that recognizes remittances as a main influencer of the economy, accounting for 26 percent of gross domestic product in 2014.

Challenges Halting Further Progress
Unfortunately, exporting labor leads to the issue of weak labor markets. Labor and demand are some of the challenges that plague Moldova and inhibit its economic progress, keeping poverty a constant.

Dependence on remittance weakens the industrial market and keeps the Moldovan economy in a cycle that increases the trade deficit and proves remittance to be untenable.

Despite an increase in those attaining higher education, younger generations are having a difficult time finding specialized occupations that are not farm-based. Post-secondary education is not a guarantee of a better job, as the business industry is not creating long-lasting positions and many firms do not typically subsist themselves.

Moving Forward
Improving the industrial state of affairs in the nation will continue to decrease poverty in Moldova.

Alex Kremer, the Country Manager for Moldova, told the World Bank that “urbanization, connectivity and off-farm jobs are the best escape routes from poverty”.

The United Nations Development Programme has innovative business development in place for local sustainable economic growth. This project is designed to facilitative innovative business development for new and existing businesses to generate internal economic development and growth in the job market.

So far, the program has already granted 83 private sector companies innovation awards and produced a campaign focused on the employability of Moldovan youth.

The initiative is scheduled to end in 2017, but with movements like this, the future of poverty in Moldova will surely improve.

Sloan Bousselaire

Photo: Flickr

 NamibiaNamibia gained its independence from South Africa in 1990. However, it is still dealing with the result of socioeconomic inequalities that came from the apartheid system during colonization. The government has achieved the UNDP Millennium Development Goal of cutting its poverty rate in half, but has unfortunately failed to eradicate hunger in Namibia.

Namibia has a Global Hunger Index (GHI) of 31.4, as reported by the International Food Policy Research Institute. This shows an alarming level of hunger in Namibia. What makes it more serious is the fact that Namibia has the lowest percentage reductions in GHI scores since 2000. Though child stunting, child wasting and child mortality have declined, undernourishment has increased to 42.3 percent. The factors that lead to hunger in Namibia include frequent droughts and flooding, putting pressure on the country’s agricultural and livestock production.

Chronic droughts, lack of agricultural land and water shortages result in crop failure. This means that agricultural production is severely low, even though about 70 percent of the population depends on the agricultural sector for their subsistence.

15.8 percent of Namibia’s population lives on less than $ 1.25 per day. Its economy is largely dependent on extraction and limited processing of minerals like diamonds, gold and zinc. It is also one of the largest producers of uranium in the world. However, only 10 percent of the labor force is employed in the mining sector.

Poverty is the most important of the causes of hunger in Namibia, limiting access to food. Another problem is that Namibia is heavily reliant on food imports (60 percent of all its food requirements), which means it is subject to high prices. The proportion of food insecure individuals was estimated at 25 percent in 2016.

Recently, the World Food Programme and Namibia’s National Planning Commission launched a five-year Country Strategic Plan (CSP) with an aim to end hunger in Namibia. The CSP is aligned with the Fifth National Development Plan and the Zero Hunger Roadmap, meant to achieve two strategic wins: enabling the vulnerable population to meet their food and nutrition requirement and ensuring government policies and programme designs are more informed of hunger issues. The support includes implementation of food-based safety net programmes, food management and monitoring system as well as capacity development to sustain the improvements and achieve zero hunger in Namibia.

Tripti Sinha

Photo: Flickr

UNDP Supports Universal Immunization Program in IndiaWith high risks of communicable diseases like bacterial diarrhea, malaria, hepatitis A and E and typhoid, there’s a rising necessity for a proper immunization program in India. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has partnered with the Indian government and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to design and put into effect an Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN). This project, known as Improving Efficiency of Vaccination Systems in Multiple States, has already run since 2014 and is to run until 2021 to strengthen the evidence base for policy-making related to vaccine delivery, procurement and planning, and ensure equity in availability.

As the world’s largest immunization program, eVIN technology has already shown results in enabling real time information on cold chain temperatures and vaccine stocks and flows in all 371 implementing districts in India. It has managed to achieve over a 98 percent reporting rate from vaccine storage areas, with over 2 million transactions logged each month, and developed the skills of over 17,000 government staff in store keeping, data operating or cold chain handling in over 550 batches of training programs.

The eVIN is setup on a mobile application that easily allows cold chain handlers to log stock positions at the end of each routine immunization day, which is then relayed immediately onto a web interface for assessment by health officials. In India, this can come to play an important role as geography and communications can pose an issue, like in the small hill-state of Manipur, where vaccine vials are carried over extensive distances to session sites by auxiliary nurses and midwives. Instances of stock-outs have decreased by more than six times here, and eVIN has enabled staff to learn how to use a smartphone and other technology, improving quality of work and management in the process.

This immunization program in India has also significantly empowered women health workers, giving them the opportunity to work with technology after attending regional and district eVIN training sessions. This allows them to manage stocks and temperatures themselves, bridges the digital divide in rural parts of India and ensures transparency alongside accuracy. Over 50 percent of cold chain handlers are women, and many are from older age groups.

EVin has taken India out of the unproductive days of delayed decision making, shortages and expirations, and has created an efficient health system that allows for valuable state-wide geographic, stock-out or excess stock and temperature overviews on each district’s centers. It also allows for large savings by reducing vaccine wastage and allowing for timely and quality injections, as in Rewa, where around $70,000 was saved after six months of eVIN activation.

Though led by the UNDP and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in India, the Universal Immunization Program is largely supported by GAVI, a global vaccine alliance established in 2000. With support from GAVI and the Indian government, the Universal Immunization Program in India has immunized at least 65 percent of India‘s children and expects to immunize 27 million more each oncoming year.

Zar-Tashiya Khan

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Years of war and a fragmented economic system have resulted in high rates of unemployment and hunger in Bosnia and Herzegovina. As far back as the early 1990s, the republic has faced hunger issues and has yet to resolve them.

Restless demonstrators and the hungry have joined together to protest the idea that there is “no hunger” in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo. 17 government buildings have been set aflame in frustration as the government works to find solutions to the unemployment and hunger epidemic. Iconically spoken in the country’s three official languages, the protests have attracted demonstrators from more than 30 cities.

Most of the demonstrations are addressing the up-and-down economic trends over the years that have caused a spike in unemployment. Between 1992 and 1995, the country faced an 80 percent drop in production, which improved until the worldwide economic crisis of 2008. In 2013 the country recovered again, with the private sector slowly growing.

In 2016, the country’s GDP was estimated at $42.23 billion, an increase from 2015’s $41.2 billion. However, unemployment in 2016 was estimated at 28 percent, an increase from 2015’s 27.7 percent, while the population below the poverty line in 2011 was at 17.2 percent.

Despite these economic trends, undernourishment and hunger rates in Bosnia and Herzegovina have fallen. Starting in 2000, the undernourishment percentage was reported at 4.1, then decreased to 2.2 in 2008 and 0.9 percent in 2016. The prevalence of wasting in children and the mortality rate have also followed the same trend.

To address the unstable economy and the ever-present hunger in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has created 17 sustainable development goals. The second goal directly tackles the hunger epidemic the country has faced in the past decades. The goal is to end hunger by 2030 by promoting sustainable agricultural practices such as supporting small-scale farmers and allowing access to land, technology and markets.

As hunger rates continue to fall, the country along with the UNDP will continue to find solutions to end hunger in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Additionally, by creating an economic system to lower the country’s unemployment rates and increase the overall GDP, the country will continue to see a drop in hunger rates.

Amira Wynn

Photo: Flickr