Our Blog

A new boost for better regional governance

30 Jan 2017

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2017 has the potential to be a major year for developing stronger, regional-level governance – a new impetus behind the balanced growth of regional government, emboldened by key resolutions, a new government direction, and the declaration of the ‘Year of Dialogue with People and Human Interests’. The Local Governance Support Programme’s first and second phases have piloted initiatives to strengthen local-level governance, building up to the Regional Development Strategies. Previously these efforts have focused on the economic and cultural hubs of Jizzakh, Namangan and Tashkent regions – there is now the exciting prospect of making these examples the benchmark for nationwide scale-up. The foundations we’ve built Broadly speaking, enhancing the ability of local governments to decide on their own direction of growth requires three things from the partnership between the Government of Uzbekistan and UNDP Uzbekistan – a) better practical tools and infrastructure, b) the ability to be financial independent, and c) the ability to make decisions. Significant progress has been made on all three fronts. Some infrastructure development has been similar to UNDP’s broader work in Uzbekistan’s regions – the installation of green energy solutions and reliable gas, power and water. Staff can now work at a digital speed, with  Read More

Home grown energy

19 Dec 2016

image A once-wooded hillside in the Forishsky district of the Djizzakh region

Wood is a key resource around the world and in Uzbekistan. It is a source of fuel that if effectively maintained, can be carbon neutral and have a positive impact on the environment. Currently, though, far more naturally-growing wood is cut and burnt, than is replaced. In the past decade 1.2 million squares of forest, almost three times the size of Uzbekistan, has been cleared. Various estimates put the global annual deforestation rate at around 6 million hectares a year. Uzbekistan is no stranger to this phenomenon – in a country once densely packed with forest, the remaining barren deserts, steppes and hillsides have very telling names like ‘Pstalitau’ – “Mountain Covered with Pistachios” – that betray a forest’s disappearance. So, it is important to understand why cutting down a tree has a multitude of negative impacts. It is true that a barren valley is less attractive than a forested one. But beyond this superficial aesthetic reason, trees are important because they form part of an ecosystem – remove them and the structure will collapse with negative consequences. First and foremost, it must be understood that trees are a carbon-sink. They hold carbon that would otherwise be in the atmosphere, and  Read More

Beyond inclusive employment – Equal opportunities for people with disabilities

02 Dec 2016

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Creating an inclusive society for people living with disabilities is not a simple process, just as disability is not a simple matter – it takes on endless forms and impacts everyone differently. To some a disability will be a minor annoyance, ‘something extra thing to think about’, while for others disabilities can be a major hurdle. Imagine for an instant that you cannot use any washroom, apart from the one in your house – not at work, at a theatre or a cinema, nor even at a hospital. This is not easy to d. But for Natalya it’s a reality, a fact of life, something she needs to consider when planning her schedule. “The lack of bathrooms with disabled access is a delicate problem from people with disabilities,” she shared with UNDP in 2014. “I know a lot of people with disabilities who on the day that they need to leave the house, will not eat or drink. For me the biggest problem is lack of access.” Access is just one matter related to rights for people with disabilities – a multifaceted concern involving infrastructure, social attitudes, laws, education, ‘agency’ and self-expression. Education is also a major battlefield in the struggle  Read More

Placing Foreign Marketplaces within SME Reach

16 Nov 2016

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By blogging consultant James Brindley Developing the SME sector is one of Uzbekistan’s priorities for economic growth, part of this effort related to building links with international business. Since its inception in 2011 the ‘Aid for Trade’ project has assisted small and medium businesses to participate in trade fairs like the ‘World Food Moscow 2016’ exhibition held in Moscow this past September. This initial step onto the ‘international stage’ for any business can be daunting. “It’s hard to think of any other setting in which the customer practically falls right into the company’s lap, so to speak. As is well known, making the first contact is the hardest part of making business,” said Alisher Sapaev – the Head of the Marketing Department of the ‘UzAgroExport’ Foreign Trade Company. A project partner, this business was established in 2016 to facilitate agricultural exports, and has been a major partner in arranging Moscow’s event. “Out of all the marketing instruments available, trade fairs offer by far the widest range of functions. This is where exhibitors can conduct business, cultivate their image, look for business partners or examine the market,” Mr. Sapaev added. Through its collaboration with its partners – particularly the ‘Uztadbirkoreksport” and ‘Uzagroexport’  Read More

Growing the Apple Sector

17 Oct 2016

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Apples are a common fruit at Uzbek households, and this popularity is reflected in the national agriculture sector where 40% of fruit orchards are dedicated to growing them. It’s a sector with promise. By publishing a guide on growing and propagating apples, the ‘Business Forum of Uzbekistan’ (Phase III)’ project undertaken by UNDP and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry will serve to further maximize this potential – one of several initiatives aiming to boost the national success and international marketability of Uzbekistan’s small and medium businesses. “Uzbekistan has a suitable climate and location for growing apples – Central Asia is actually home for many wild apple forests,” shared Shukhrat Abrorov, the knowledge source behind the book and a lead expert in apple growth. “The main message farmers will get from this manual is that every farmer can produce more, better quality apples, by using modern knowledge and advanced techniques in apple growing.” The manual intends to be as practical as possible – identifying major hurdles farmers might face when planting orchards, and detailing best locations for certain varieties to improve product quality and storability. It also explains how to fight common pests and disease. Equally important is the advice offered about  Read More

Uzbekistan’s Media – Turning Data into News

14 Oct 2016

image UNDP Uzbekistan: Open data websites like data.toshvil.uz break down the barriers between journalists and the information they need to develop stories

By Blogging Consultant James Brindley Dilfuza Ruzieva of the ‘Olmaliq Haqiqati’ (Truth of Olmaliq) - one of the Tashkent region newspapers - wrote about the refurbishment of public schools since the time of Uzbekistan’s independence. It was a fairly simple process, taking 12 lots of figures off the data.toshvil.uz open data website, with which to build the article. Just few years back things would have been different – what is now a 30-minute process would have involved waiting for most of a month. “It would have been possible to write the same article without open data, but there would have been big difficulties,” Ms. Ruzieva shared with UNDP Uzbekistan. “We would have written an official letter to government organizations for information, and have waited for several days before the answer would come.” Ms. Ruzieva was one of 20 other multi-industry journalists who learnt essential skills for simplifying and facilitating their trade at a June training event, conducted by the ‘Local Governance Support Programme/ Phase 2’. (LGSP-II has supported efforts by the Uzbekistan government in enhancing the ability of regional and district level authorities to de-centralize and de-concentrate administrative and fiscal authority. This has been an on-going, multi-partnered process - you can  Read More

Patterns of Success

12 Oct 2016

image UNDP Uzbekistan: Guzal Takhirova practices with design technology at 'Istiqlol Dizayn Markazi'

By Blogging Consultant James Brindley Back at her university, making a new dress design involved a long process of trial-and-error – from sewing table to the manikin and back again. For an ambitious student like Guzal Takhirova, who isn’t content with standard designs and seeks to innovate – essential for her future success – the solution must involve technology. “In the future I plan to open my own business – a sewing enterprise,” shares the national award-winning designer and graduate of the Design and Construction College in Namangan. “That’s why for me it is important to learn how to work with innovative technologies.” Ms. Takhirova is one of 48 recent graduates who are being trained at the ‘Istiqlol Dizayn Markazi’ LLC, a clothing design centre equipped by the “Business Forum of Uzbekistan (Phase-III)” project, joint project of UNDP and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, with financial support from Sasol. 10 will go on to be employed by the factory, while many more will set up their own independent businesses. What makes this centre ground-breaking is that it has made us of the new ‘CAD’ (computer-aided design) software, a 3D modelling tool that allows designers to easily experiment in a digital  Read More

Change from tradition with no-tillage farming

27 Aug 2016

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By Blogging Consultant James Brindley 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  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

By Blogging Consultant James Brindley 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  Read More

Beating corruption with prevention

20 Jun 2016

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By Blogging Consultant James Brindley 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  Read More