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Why putting climate change on paper will make a difference

11 Apr 2016

image UNDP Uzbekistan: The new Climate Risk Profile report serves as a framework for helping Uzbekistan's most vulnerable communities overcome climate change risks

By Blogging Consultant James Brindley Uzbekistan is a country of different environments – in the east the terrain is dominated by snow-caped mountains and grassy hillsides, while journeying west reveals extensively-farmed fertile lands, gradually shifting into dry regions and eventually the Karakalpakstan deserts and the Aral Sea’s shores. What these vastly-different areas have in common is that the health of their environments, and the well-being of people who live there, are both vulnerable to the accelerating effects of climate change. Proceeded by an uncharacteristically mild winter, a number of 2016 initiatives will focus on addressing Uzbekistan’s climate change threats, and among these include the promotion of the Climate Risk Profile (CRP) document as an authoritative information source regarding climate change in Uzbekistan. It’s creators, including UNDP and national research partners, hope it will inform people of both the existing climate change induced risks and the way that they can be mitigated. “This report intends to put the matter of climate change induced risks onto a national scale, an area not yet broadly considered, but one that can have a significant impact on Uzbekistan’s future,” said Ms. Natalya Agaltseva, the manager of the Climate Resilience project supported by UNDP Uzbekistan, who coordinated the  Read More

From the Basics Up – How to Build Good ICT in Government

04 Apr 2016

image UNDP Uzbekistan - ICT expert Andrey Kuznetsov highlights the need for institutional reform as a bedrock for strong e-governance

By Blogging Consultant James Brindley When Latvian ICT expert Andrey Kuznetsov presented at a national seminar hosted by UNDP’s ‘E-Government Promotion for Improved Public Service Delivery’ project and its partners in December 2015, the message was simple – the strength of an ICT-based e-governance system is only as solid as the institutions it’s built on. Institutional reform is a pre-requisite of e-governance – it is a foundation that needs to be built before ICT is introduced. “Only then can follow the implementation of any ICT solution,” Mr. Kuznetsov said to UNDP Uzbekistan, after completing his mission to Uzbekistan. “An attempt to 'push' old paper-based technology and approaches into an ICT system can never improve services, but in most cases makes situation even worse than without automation at all.” Good ICT with the Back Office to Match Back when e-governance was a new idea being introduced in Uzbekistan, systems at the time relied extensively on written paperwork which made implementing public services a time-intensive process, and limited the government’s ability to act as a service provider. Considerable progress has been made from that point, with ICT systems having been introduced into courts, business, governance, and most significantly through the medium of the nation’s  Read More

LGSP – Building Trends in Local Government

24 Mar 2016

image UNDP Uzbekistan: By implementing extremely successful pilot projects, LGSP has demonstrated what can be achieved with the right focus and commitment.

By Blogging Consultant James Brindley Enhancing the accountability and transparency of regional and district-level government in Uzbekistan has required persistent effort, since the inception of the first stage of the Local Government Support Project’ (LGSP) back in March 2010. Those efforts were not in vain, and have sparked changes in practice that have had long-term and quite influential impacts. The project’s goal was as novel as it was ambitious – in all living memory centralised government was the norm, and local government saw itself as a channel for resources and decisions from higher ministries and departments to their regions. In brief, what LGSP sought to achieve was a shift to a model in which local government’s main purpose was to improve the lives of everyday people. Now halfway through the implementation of LGSP’s second stage, we want to review what ideas have been ‘run with’ as a means of establishing significant change. From pilots to national trends The LGSP project has particularly triumphed in establishing bonds of trust with national government partners, as a means of boosting local-level development. The projects have ranged from innovate tourism development that supports communities, to eliminating reliance on paperwork, and details of many more earlier  Read More

Moscow Inlet for Small Business Exports

20 Mar 2016

image UNDP Uzbekistan: Odinakhon Saidova is one of many women entrepreneurs who have expanded their international range through the 'Aid for Trade' project's support.

By Blogging Consultant James Brindley "I was very afraid at first and even refused to participate in the event, but coworkers persuaded me to go because there would be experienced export company staff who would join us. Also my husband supported me with his faith. After that, things started moving.” Odinakhon Saidova is a member of Uzbekistan’s growing entrepreneurial society crossing more than one divide. By taking part in September 2015’s ‘World Food Moscow’ exhibition in Moscow, with support from UNDP’s ‘Aid for Trade’ project, she has demonstrated the dynamics of the new face of Uzbek business. Since 2011, phases of the ‘Aid for Trade’ project have been working with small businesses throughout Uzbekistan to build their business connections overseas, as part of a push to develop the nation’s small and medium business sector, while also growing Uzbekistan’s image as a good option for overseas investment and growth. Taking part in international business exhibitions has been a principal part of this work. Through the years, the ‘Aid for Trade’ project has supported the participation of over 60 businesses like Ms. Saidova’s in 15 trade fairs, held as far from home as China’s eastern urban hubs and setting up over 43 million  Read More

Four Years for Better Health – Outcomes of UNDP’s HIV Initiative

17 Dec 2015

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Throughout its history the HIV/AIDS crisis has been an global struggle impacting nations around the globe, and while infections rates have been lower in Uzbekistan than in other nations, the state has nevertheless felt the epidemic’s effect. Addressing the nation’s HIV/AIDS situation has been a key focus of both national and international partners, including the Republican AIDS Centre, UNDP, UNICEF and UNAIDS. UNDP has served as a capacity building partner to the Uzbekistan government, with the ‘Continuing Scale Up of the Response to HIV’ project actively combatted rates of national infection. This has resulted from the development of infrastructure and the improvement of professional skill sets, while also making sure effective treatment and counselling services are available to HIV-positive individuals. With the work of strong partnerships, the tide of HIV is beginning to turn. “This multi-faceted project, which has been an enormous undertaking not just in terms of cost but also coordination, has established practices and facilities that will limit new HIV infections while also making more effective approaches to treatment the norm,” said project manager Zakir Kadirov. “At the end of December this initiative will conclude, but the frameworks put in place will make sure its impacts continue into the  Read More

Lessons from Estonia’s Best E-justice Practices

16 Dec 2015

image The Uzbekistan delegation, supported by UNDP Uzbekistan’s ‘Rule of Law’ project, meets with Estonia’s E-Goverance Academy director Arvo Ott

‘A strong e-justice system is just one key component of a broader e-governance system, and is an initiative that needs to be constantly developing and growing’ – this was one key lesson attained through a recent study tour conducted for a delegation of key Uzbekistan legal professionals. Along with presenting examples of the interconnectedness and fluidity of a strong e-governance system, the tour also put emphasis on methods of streamlining court operations. The six-day tour saw the participation of eleven delegates, including judges from Uzbekistan’s Supreme Court, the High Economic Court, representatives from regional/inter-district courts, and those from a range of relevant ministries and departments. The tour focused on the mechanisms of Estonia’s ‘E-Toimik’ e-justice system, and directions for its continued development, and presented through meetings with key justice figures, and through visits to courts, institutions and educational facilities. After the event it was intended that its outcomes should help shape a direction for the growth of Uzbekistan’s E-Sud system, making sure justice can be quickly and more effectively provided to individuals requiring assistance from courts. Estonia’s Experience Estonia has been recognized globally for the advancements it has made in terms of its e-justice programme, and this was evident to participants  Read More

Indoor Water for a Healthier Winter

15 Dec 2015

image This winter, Ziwar Begjanova and her family can enjoy safe water piped directly to their home

In the depths of winter there are few things more uncomfortable than hot running water turning cold, but this is nothing compared to a need to go out into snow and ice to fetch water from a communal pump. Until now, this was a regular part of life for Ms. Ziwar Begjanova – a resident in the isolated Nogai community of Uzbekistan’s Aral Sea region. “This year’s snow and cold weather won’t disturb us, as we won’t have to bother carrying water to our households from the neighbouring street.” Ms. Begjanova shared with staff from the UN Joint Programme. “This is because from now we will have tap water in our households.” The UN Joint Programme has worked in Uzbekistan’s far western region to combat the impacts of the Aral Sea disaster, with a primary focus on improving the region’s level of human development. A particular concern in the region is the daily struggle involved in obtaining water for household, farm and business use, and meeting the individual requirements of each village. In the case of Ms. Begjanova’s home village, and many others in the targeted regions, the development of improved water access was the result of a community development plan  Read More

Bicycles keep TB prevention on track

27 Nov 2015

image With a bicycle on hand, health volunteer Juzimgul Matirzaeva can share valuable information about Tuberculosis with isolated households

"There was a TB patient who suspected that he might have had lung-related health issues, but because of limited information about the need for timely visits to the Rural Health Point and stigma-related issues, he preferred to hide the disease,” health volunteer Juzimgul Matirzaeva shared with UNDP staff, during a break in her busy schedule spreading news about the illness among vulnerable families in her local ‘Krantau’ village of 1,620 households. In her field, a majority of the work focuses on limiting the impacts of misinformation. “Most people think that TB is incurable, and they try to keep themselves away from TB patients, but our awareness campaign has made a change in people’s perceptions of the disease.” The spread of Tuberculosis (TB) in Uzbekistan’s far northwestern Karakalpakstan region has been one of the more intangible but nevertheless concerning impacts of the Aral Sea disaster, one bourgeoned by poor air quality and nutritional concerns. Fear of the illness, multiplied by a lack of knowledge of how it is spread and the effective treatments that are available, creates an atmosphere of stigma.  To counter this rising concern, within the Aral Sea joint programme operating in western Uzbekistan, 1,730 community volunteers have been trained  Read More

Coding for Change

24 Nov 2015

image Alisher Mukhtarov presents the 'Fixit' app to the innovative programmers at UNDP Uzbekistan's 'Hackathon' event

C++, JavaScript, Python and PHP – while these languages can’t be spoken out loud, they help inform and connect people around the world. Today’s celebrated inventors are those who have used programming languages to create tools like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, or those who design the hardware that make these tools ever easier to access and utilize.  The fruits of these minds are helping address the remaining challenges faced in achieving equal human prosperity and development. From the 10th to the 12th of September, UNDP and the Ministry for Development of Information Technologies and Communications of the Republic of Uzbekistan organised Uzbekistan’s first ever ‘Hackathon’ – an event at which programmers used the competitive spirit to create innovative products. The results have been many astounding and practical apps, which among others have included an interactive social map of Uzbekistan, a 3D presentation of bus routes, and a transformation of economic data into a virtual reality setting. The event’s winning team ‘Intense Group’ travelled over 500 km from the city of Bukhara to take part in the event. Their winning application ‘Fixit’, currently in the stage of ongoing development, intends to bridge gaps between citizens and their government in addressing urban issues  Read More

A future on two wheels

20 Nov 2015

image Cycling enthusiast Zoya Mayorova on the road

The humble bicycle has been a symbol of social equality and empowerment from its earliest days. Anyone familiar with the story of the Penny Farthing will know that its invention was followed immediately by the social drive to ensure both women and men could benefit from the newly-fangled device. Students of history will recall photographs of endless rows of bikes at Tiananmen Square. Today bicycles are recognised as a low-tech means of transportation with endless applications in the development field, while also being a healthy form of exercise and greatly positive for the environment. In 2015 UNDP Uzbekistan and its partners have embraced the two wheels as a tool for empowerment and education. Importantly bikes have been provided to health volunteers distributing information about Tuberculosis in Uzbekistan’s western Karakalpakstan region, efforts which will be discussed in an upcoming blog. The GEF SGP project has hosted this year’s Velokvest-2015 (Cycle Quest) event in Tashkent, a game that brought together biking and intellectual challenges, and we spoke to a member of ‘Charlie’s Angels’ squad Zoya Mayorova about what it is like to be a biker in Uzbekistan’s capital city. More than a popular trend “Biking brings together people of different genders and ages,  Read More

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