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ICT Bridge between Uzbekistan’s government and citizenry

20 Nov 2015

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In April this year, Uzbekistan’s first Open Data Portal was established, as a result of UNDP’s support for the implementation of the ‘Programme on the Development of a National Information and Communication System of the Republic of Uzbekistan for 2013-2020’. The actual launch of the website itself was a momentous occasion, but the real tangible impact of the website, is that for the first time in national history a direct channel of information has been formed between the ministries and departments of the Government of Uzbekistan, and the greater public. It’s true that the website is ground-breaking in its size and breadth – 600 datasets have so far been posted, with a slow but steady trend towards a prominence of gender-segregated data (demographic information distinguishing between genders). The website already has 60,000 visits and more than twice that many downloads, while more and more departments and agencies have uploaded information on to the website. However that’s not the most exciting part aspect of the portal. What is most exciting, is that the information and communication channel the portal provides is two-way. ICT development in Uzbekistan The Open Data Portal is an outcome of a collaborative and dedicated effort to make sure  Read More

How to reduce administrative burden on businesses?

29 Oct 2015

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Despite the effective measures taken by the government on consistent reduction of the financial burden on businesses (by decreasing taxes and other obligatory payments), and simplification of permission and licensing procedures, the administrative burden still remains significant in the form of numerous formalities and obligations imposed by requirements of regulatory acts. One of the important factors influencing the situation is the unrelenting stream of the drafting and adopting regulatory acts. Thus, the analysis of the data of the National Database of the Legislation of  Uzbekistan (www.lex.uz) shows that on average 0.7 to 1.2 thousand legal acts are being adopted annually, 30 - 40 % of which affect the businesses directly. From 2005 to 2014 the total number of the annually adopted legal acts increased by 2 times, the number of departmental acts - also by 2 times and the government's decisions -by 1.4 times. Figure 1. Annual growth in total number of legal acts adopted in Uzbekistan (2005-2014)  Source: calculations based on the data of www.lex.uz, “Support to the Enhancement of Lawmaking, Rulemaking and Regulatory Impact Assessment” UNDP Project This, in turn, may result in additional costs of businesses to meet the requirements of a large number of regulatory documents (so-called  Read More

Bolds steps in business to protect the ozone

28 Oct 2015

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By International Blogging Consultant James Brindley, and HCFC project manager Abror Khodjaev ‘Change’ is simple to do, but it is by no means easy. This is especially the case when the change involves a shift from a simple and economically-advantageous practice, to one that challenges accepted business practices, but has a broad and important impact on the environment. The need to protect the Ozone Layer is a fundamental challenge that has been faced since the 1970s. Scientists around the globe have proven that without humans taking due care and re-evaluating their actions, they could very well cause a range of destructive impacts. For key stakeholders including companies within the food industry, changing traditional and lucrative practices to those that will protect the earth requires much more courage and responsibility. In collaboration with the ‘Initial Implementation of Accelerated HCFC Phase-out in the CEIT Region’ project, operated by UNDP, the State Committee for Nature Protection of Uzbekistan and the Global Environmental Facility, several companies in Uzbekistan have made bold but rewarding decisions to actively reduce their use of Ozone Depleting Substances. Below we present two of their stories. A change in approach “Introducing new industrial practices involves investments of time and money, for  Read More

Re-thinking social care for vulnerable citizens

23 Oct 2015

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To know what the saying ‘Family First’ really means, follow up on a dinner invite to an Uzbek household. You’ll find that the notion of the ‘immediate family’ expands out from children and their parents, to uncles and aunts, parents-in-law, grandparents, sometimes great-grandparents, and friends of the family who are close enough to be honorary brothers and sisters. You’ll also discover that elders receive a great deal of respect. Family takes supreme importance in Uzbekistan, and that means that vulnerable people including the elderly will most often receive support from their families, regardless of their financial situation. However if elderly people do not have family living close by, often because relatives are working and living abroad, a minimal level of social support means they can have difficulty making ends meet and retiring in dignity. People living with disabilities may have a lack of family support, not necessarily because of the absence of relatives, but rather due to the unfortunate social stigma against disability. Thankfully though, things are changing. Where have we come from? On the 18th of August, the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers ‘On enhancing targeted social protection of older people and persons with disabilities’ was approved, jointly developed  Read More

Knowledge on two wheels – Volunteers on the Aral Steppes fight Tuberculosis

20 Oct 2015

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Karakalpakstan, Uzbekistan – In my school books the Aral Sea was still the world's fourth largest lake, providing stocks of fish to the then Soviet Union. Now what remains of the salt lake is only a memory, since ninety per cent of the lake that belongs partly to Kazakhstan and partly to Uzbekistan, has since evaporated into the air. The area of Karakalpakstan that bears the greatest brunt of drought lies downstream on the Amudarya River. One-third of the population lives below the poverty line, making it the poorest area in Uzbekistan. On the barren Aral steppes, many communities are struggling to survive because the lake’s evaporation has slowly withered away the two most important industries - agriculture and fisheries. For one and a half years I followed one of the world’s largest ecological catastrophes up close, and learned to respect the value of clean water. The consequences of the water’s disappearance have been unpredictable and dangerous. Hundreds of thousands of hectares of dried and fruitless lake bed have become the source of raging sandstorms. Climatic conditions change radically during the year, with summer temperatures soaring to 50 degrees Celsius, and the winter freezing dropping down to -30 degrees Celsius. Pesticides  Read More

How a fruit drying tunnel transformed a community

08 Oct 2015

image UNDP in Uzbekistan: Sodikzhon Tursunov is one of many Zarkent village farmers who has set up his own fruit drying tunnel, following the example of the ‘Gold Zarkent Max’ social initiative.

By ‘Aid for Trade’ project manager Dilshod Akbarov, and international blogging consultant James Brindley The structure itself combines only sheet metal, bricks, some cast Iron rails and wheels, an engine and power connection, and a healthy combination of machine and elbow grease. It’s a simple piece of machinery, but one that can potentially transform a community. This is a story about Zarkent village of the Namangan region’s Yangikurgan district. For astute followers of UNDP Uzbekistan’s work, ‘Zarkent’ is a name that will ring a few bells - it is the ‘MDG Village’ where UNDP presented how the goals can be achieved by introducing green energy, improving infrastructure and encouraging small business. The village was chosen for this role because, while it is located in one of Uzbekistan’s most fertile regions, it also still faces a number of constraints in regards to applying marketable approaches and modern technologies to boost its agricultural potential.    The construction of the fruit-drying machine in 2013 by the ‘Gold Zarkent Max’ farmer’s initiative is the latest in a set of initiatives undertaken to improve the development of alternative income generation in Zarkent, and enhance its well-being. Why dried fruit is important Visit any Uzbek ‘Bazaar’ and you  Read More

Improving court assessment, as a step towards introducing better practices

30 Sep 2015

image UNDP UZBEKISTAN - Less frequent and more thorough side visits, improved data entry and public services have been proposed as means of improving the monitoring of Uzbekistan's courts.

By ‘Rule of Law Partnership in Uzbekistan' project manager Erkin Abdurizaev, and blogging consultant James Brindley Speedy and efficient legal processes are vital to preserving the human rights of citizens in Uzbekistan and any other nation, as they ensure that justice is available for all, while maintaining the rule of law. Making sure that courts operate in an optimized way requires a strong approach to monitoring and maintenance. In July 2015, international consultant on the Strategic Planning and Management of Court Systems Kathryn Harrison reviewed existing mechanisms for evaluating court performance in Uzbekistan, in cooperation with UNDP’s ‘Rule of Law Partnership in Uzbekistan’ project. Her visit involving meetings with high-ranking legal professionals, combined with an overview of best foreign practices related to court performance assessment, helped establish a nationally-applicable list of recommendations. “Currently, there is a certain evaluation framework, and specific criteria, for court performance evaluation, developed by the Supreme Court together with the Higher Qualification Commission on Selection and Appointment of Judges under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan and Supreme Economic Court,” Ms. Harrison said. “At the current stage we need to develop specific mechanisms for carrying out such a framework, involving answering such questions as how the  Read More

Uzbekistan’s new Budget Code – What exactly is it?

28 Sep 2015

image UNDP UZBEKISTAN - By making the budgetary process more transparent and results-focused, the new Budget Code will help streamline and enhance development processes throughout the nation.

By the 'Budget System Reform in Uzbekistan' project manager Fayzulla Salakhuddinov and by blogging consultant James Brindley, with contributions by Victoria Anoshkina and Matluba Mukhamedova. Since its adoption in December 2013, the Budget Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan has for the first time in national history simplified the structure, components and processes of Uzbekistan’s budgetary system into one piece of legal document. It has been a long-process, but one whose result will have a positive, multiplying effect on nationwide development. Simplifying the content of 50 sets of previous legislation into one single Budget Code package, has been the result of a three year process that combined the efforts of the United Nations Development Programme, the Ministry of Finance and other national partners, along with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Assistance for the Development of Exchanges in Economic and Financial Technologies (ADETEF). The code is currently in its testing stage, but once it is fully implemented and professionals throughout Uzbekistan have learnt how to turn its clauses into actions, the result will be a qualitatively new approach to creating national budgets, that will further empower development initiatives in turn. This blog provides an insight into what exactly the Budget Code  Read More

Who is behind remittances? A Profile of Uzbek Migrants

05 Mar 2015

image UNDP Uzbekistan: Remittances from Russia to Uzbekistan, mln USD

Blog by Ziyodullo Parpiev   We think we know everything about remittances flowing from host countries to source countries: amount of money, its transfer and what the remittances are spent on. We also know that, by positively contributing to consumption and poverty reduction, remittances can transform livelihoods of not only families receiving them, but also whole neighborhoods, regions and countries. But do we know about people who are sending the remittances, about families who depend on them, about neighborhoods which are being transformed by them? The goal of this blog post is to shed more light on the people behind remittances. Just few words about the importance of remittances in Uzbekistan: since 2009, remittances from Russia have increased at double-digit rates, and exceeded 6.6 billion U.S. dollars (approximately 12% of GDP) in 2013. It is estimated that due to the ongoing Russian ruble crisis, amount of remittances started falling already in 2014. A recent World Bank study (Ajwad et al, 2014) estimates that 2 million Uzbek citizens lived outside the country abroad as of 2010, which amounts to an emigration rate of approximately 7 percent of the population. The mobility rate is more than double the world average (3.2 percent) and  Read More

Answering calls for help – HIV Hotline in Tashkent

08 Dec 2014

image UNDP in Uzbekistan - A new HIV information hotline in Tashkent is making sure that essential medical and psychological support is never far away.

“I’ve just been diagnosed with HIV. What do I do now?” “I think I might have been involved in risky behaviour. Are there any post-exposure prophylactics I can use?” “Can my son still get married if he is HIV-positive? How could he minimise transmission to his spouse, and could he have healthy children?” At any given time there are only a few staff members operating the phones at Tashkent’s HIV hotline centre, which was established in coordination with the Tashkent City AIDS Centre, but every day they receive up to a dozen calls. Some callers want to learn about prevention, others to try to recover from the shock of diagnosis, and some are looking for advice about how to balance life with treatment. These confidential calls come not just from within Tashkent, but also from regional Uzbekistan, neighbouring countries, and even as far afield as Turkey and the Russian Federation. Established through the ‘Strengthening national capacities to address emerging challenges to halt the spread of the three diseases (AIDS, TB and Malaria)’ project since August 2014, in partnership between UNDP Uzbekistan, the Ministry of Health and Tashkent city AIDS Centre, the HIV hotline is the first of its kind in Uzbekistan.  Read More