Our Blog

Change from tradition with no-tillage farming

27 Aug 2016

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Think of ‘traditional farming’ and images of heavy tractors, plows and machinery may come to mind – but in the greater scheme of history this has hardly been the standard. The practice of organic, simple, low-impact, low-cost farming, despite being more efficient and often creating tastier and cleaner produce, has somewhat fallen by the wayside. Bakhitbay Aybergenov, an innovator tackling limitations of Uzbekistan’s driest farming regions, is working with the SGP GEF project to bring it back with a vengeance. For communities facing low land fertility, especially in the Aral Sea region, it can be an attractive alternative. Having secured GEF SGP funding for the project he devised and launched, and by bringing together example technology and local expertise, in 2015 Mr. Aybergenov demonstrated to farmers how ‘No-Till Farming’ works. This approach, utilized in low-nutrient soil, is a paradigm-shifting idea that reduces land manipulation to the barest minimum. “At the demonstration the soil scientist explained to us that on field edges were locations that had never been ploughed – when a shovel went into the soil it came loose and didn’t require any more treatment. It could be sown,” Mr. Aybergenov shared. “In a few years any soil can become firable  Read More

Home-grown industry – modernising Zaamin’s pharmacy gardens

25 Jun 2016

image UNDP Uzbekistan - Medicinal plants are an enormous resource in Uzbekistan's Zaamin region, and UNDP is finding ways of transforming it into a profitable industry feeding back into the community

For centuries Zaamin has been Uzbekistan’s natural pharmacy, with a combination of medical herbs and a clean environment making it ideal for spas and treatment centres. The area’s plants have long been gathered and sold, but the challenge is to modernise the process as a way of improving local-level economic growth. It is not the first time UNDP and its partners have recognised and sought to tap into Zaamin’s potential – the Local Governance Support Programme boosted the region’s health tourism potential as a means of making sure profits stay in communities. In the same direction, UNDP’s ‘Reducing Pressures on Natural Resources from Competing Land Use in Non-Irrigated Arid Mountain, Semi-Desert and Desert Landscapes of Uzbekistan’ project and Zaamin District Forestry are seeking to grow the industry in directions that will benefit communities. Big industry on a practical scale Buckthorn, hawthorn, Indian cumin, water pepper and many other herbs grow in the region – previously they’ve been used in teas and poultices, to the benefit of the people that collect them, but the beefnits have not been enjoyed much further afield. It’s UNDP’s goal to keep this industry on a community scale, but to enhance the numbers of employees involved and introduce  Read More

Beating corruption with prevention

20 Jun 2016

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Corruption is a universal problem, one faced by developing and developed nations alike, and it manifests itself in ways ranging from misappropriation of funds, to hiring nepotism, and a myriad of other incarnations. In one prevalent example, operation procedures for public services can be complicated or unclear to the point that people will turn to illegal avenues for getting things done. It’s possible to combat corruption when its impacts are felt, but prevention is more effective. A system should be created where people have faith that government services and processes are efficient, concerns are heard, applications are treated fairly, and communication channels stay open. This system would eliminate the ‘need’ for corruption. Uzbekistan is a signatory of several international protocols serving to limit the spread of corruption, particularly the United Nations Convention against Corruption that makes government bodies responsibility for fighting the scourge with the tool of innovation. To turn these agreements into action, UNDP’s ‘Support to enhancement of law-making, rulemaking and RIA’ project has collaborated with national partners in creating a policy that eliminates the gaps and ambiguity in laws and legislation that make corruption possible. What makes this policy practical “The policy helps create a system of honesty and  Read More

Creating a Center of Earthquake Knowledge

13 Jun 2016

image UNDP Uzbekistan: The Earthquake Simulation Complex is an apex of work undertaken to boost Uzbekistan's disaster preparedness and awareness

On April’s 50th anniversary of Tashkent’s 1966 earthquake, 20 visitors toured Tashkent’s Earthquake Centre. It had been operating for a year, not only as an educational centre and a cultural and historic monument, but also as a reminder of what can’t be predicted but only prepared for. While this centre has only been recently established it is a functioning symbol of a new state of natural disaster preparedness, created to prepare Tashkent and greater Uzbekistan for what may come in the future. A state of watchful readiness Waking up in Tashkent to a shaking floor isn’t an unusual occurrence, but it’s not one that should be flippantly overlooked. Not everyone who experiences these tremors knows how to react during quakes, making assets like the Earthquake Simulation Centre invaluable. Before the centre was established, UNDP recognized that isolated and vulnerable people need help preparing for quakes, and so communication channels were created through the Ministry of Emergency Situations. Particularly children have been reached through educational courses, games and films, while training has been brought to people who can’t leave home. Efforts to improve preparedness have also tapped into better national access to internet systems, through the creation and distribution of a phone  Read More

Aral Sea Shores Pt. 2 – Battling the Dust

23 May 2016

image UNDP Uzbekistan - Teaching farmers how to get the most out of their land, and encouraging them to share that knowledge with their peers, has been a vital part of boosting human security in Karakalpakstan

The UN Aral Sea Joint Programme ended in 2016, concluding four years of work addressing long-term social, health and economic impacts of the Aral Sea disaster. To present the project’s main results and its sustainability, we are publishing three blogs about the completed work and what the next plans are. Building on our last blog that looked at how we’ve made communities more economically and socially resilient, in this blog we’ll look specifically at how our programme has worked to counter environmental problems caused by the Aral Sea disaster. We’ll look at how worsened desertification and airborne sands have directly influenced human security and well-being in the region, and how we’ve worked to address these crucial issues. (Human Security refers to maintaining livelihood and standards of living in the face of trying circumstances – check out our previous blog to learn more about the concept as it applies to our response to the Aral Sea disaster) Resilient agriculture Alternative business is growing in Karakalpakstan, but to a strong degree agriculture has replaced fishing as a major source of income in the region, and the well-being of communities relies on how farms can maximise their outputs and minimise negative environmental impacts. The  Read More

Export Made Easy - Uzbekistan's First National Electronic Trading Platform

22 May 2016

image UNDP Uzbekistan - The UzTrade website is a new channel to deliver unique national products, like high-quality fruit and vegetables, to overseas buyers

“Our company specializes in producing and selling fresh and dried agro-produce, and we are interested in expanding into new markets. The new ‘UzTrade’ trading platform provides us with a channel to offer products to a larger circle of potential overseas buyers,” entrepreneur Mr. Askar Kadirov told UNDP staff at the opening of Uzbekistan’s first online platform for international business. Like Odinakhon Saidova, who we featured in a previous blog on international trade fairs, Mr. Kadirov’s goal is to turn domestic success into international trend-setting. His company Spectrum ITG exports fruits and vegetables, products that Uzbekistan is already renowned for, and the UzTrade website has been proved the best tool for facilitating this trade. “I believe that through ‘UzTrade’ I will conclude more contracts and increase export volumes," he said. "I would like to thank the website’s initiators and developers for their good job. The initiative was simply necessary in the era of e-commerce.” Ground-breaking tool for business “Bill Gates’s quote – “If your business is not on the Internet, then your business will be out of business”, absolutely applies to benefits of the newly-established ‘UzTrade’ Electronic Trade Platform for Uzbekistan SMEs,” said website client Mr. Mumtoz Dalimov, from Tune Consulting LLC. It's inescapable that Uzbek businesses wishing  Read More

Preparation in Action – Kamchik Pass

11 May 2016

image UNDP Uzbekistan: Securing the essential Kamchik pass in a national priority.

One Friday morning in late 2016, Tashkent feels a slightly stronger-than-usual earthquake. At the UN Country Office, staff feel distinct vibrations through the floor and walls and ripples appear in cups of coffee. Meeting participants scramble under the conference table and take hold, while other staff do the same at their desks, and colleagues in corridors crouch next to the nearest load-bearing wall. After a few seconds the shuddering ends, staff gather to make sure no one is hurt, and life continues as normal. However, on an isolated stretch of the Kamchik Pass that connects the fertile Namangan, Andijan and Fergana regions to Western Uzbekistan, a much stronger earthquake hits accompanied by a rockfall and landslide. In the time of a radio transmission a series of well-established systems and meticulously-rehearsed procedures kick into action, helping to keep stranded motorists safe and re-opening a transport route. *** This is only a hypothetical scenario, but one that presents the vital work UNDP Uzbekistan conducts in partnership with the Ministry of Emergency Situations to better fortify the nation against possible natural disasters. The established systems that will limit the impact of such natural disasters, should they occur in the future, have been established in  Read More

Changes in industrial demand for personnel

05 May 2016

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The economic breakthrough, enabling shift of the country to upper segment of middle-income countries according to methodology of international development organizations will largely depend on the quality of manpower that are available on labor market. Workforce shall be able to work with the most modern facilities, offer and implement innovative ideas and solutions. President Islam Karimov set a target to increase industry’s share in the country’s GDP. Nowadays, as well as in near future there will be a greater demand for technical personnel. A diagram below shows forecast for industrial sector’s demand for personnel. The diagram confirms accuracy of the chosen path to implement the professional colleges system. At the same time, educational system faces new challenges caused by rapidly changing conditions of market economy. In this regard, technicians must not only be produced by colleges but also meet expectations of employers in the private sector. Graph I Meanwhile, in order to meet requirements of industrial demand, it is necessary to take additional measures and change the training process, primarily professional college students. There are, on average, 500,000 pupil graduating from the secondary school annually in the country, of which 90% continue their studies at professional colleges. Currently, every pupil is  Read More

Aral Sea Shores pt. I – Evolved Communities

24 Apr 2016

image UNDP Uzbekistan: Providing vulnerable groups with employment and incomes has been just one objective of the Aral Sea Joint Programme's work in targeted districts

This is the first in a series of blogs that present the results of the UN Aral Sea Joint Programme, specifically looking at the development of communities and alternative business. The second blog will look into how the programme reviews the human impacts of environmental change, and the third will review how the programme’s impacts will be sustained into the future. Every country around the world faces challenges. Some challenges are resolved through naturally changes over time, while others need focus, perseverance and thinking outside the box. As my home, Australia has no shortage of environmental, economic and particularly social difficulties – pride in my nation comes from its doggedly tackling these concerns for the benefit of all its citizens. For Uzbekistan, a major challenge is the Aral Sea Disaster – a situation not created but inherited, but one whose repercussions are now coming to bear. While life can be difficult in this far western region, the combined efforts of UNDP, UNFPA, UNESCO, WHO and UNV, and tireless contributions by regional government, have shown what can be achieved. The best way to see changes made by the Aral Sea UN Joint Programme is to visit communities and directly witness the work  Read More

Planning for climate change – An approach for agriculture in Uzbekistan’s Dry Regions

12 Apr 2016

image UNDP Uzbekistan: At a project inception meeting, stakeholders meet on-site to discuss how climate change risks can be most effectively mitigated

While December 2015’s Paris Conference generated a global push to combat climate change, closer to home UNDP Uzbekistan has engaged national partner representatives in planning an approach to addressing the global challenge. Climate change is a particular concern in regions with environmental challenges, an example being agricultural communities in Uzbekistan’s Karakalpakstan region which have grappled with dry climates, extreme temperatures and water deficits, but have to date withstood climate change-induced risks. Assisting the transition from spontaneous climate change adaptation to a planned approach has been the purpose of UNDP’s jointly-implemented ‘Developing Climate Resilience of Farming Communities in Drought Prone Parts of Uzbekistan’ project. Planning for this initiative began in late 2014, with the input of national partners, international expertise and the intended beneficiaries themselves, making sure the project would be well coordinated and implemented. As a result of this extensive planning process, 2015 saw the establishment of two demonstration workshops held both in the western city of Nukus and at the project’s pilot site in the Kegeyli district. As a means of overcoming the problem of boosting Karakalpakstan’s climate security, the workshops presented the use of information sharing systems designed to prepare farmers for potential future drought situations. They also covered  Read More