Our Perspective

Breaking the shackles of social divide and injustice

17 May 2018

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As we turned on to the North-Western channel, we drove past the busy road which ran parallel to a fast-flowing river and rounded up towards the hairpin bends of the valley. The path seemed oddly familiar, yet the valley—spurring an all but contagious atmosphere of peace and warmth—was practically unrecognisable. It had been eight years since I had last visited Swat District, situated in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The change since then was indisputable. Long known for its majestic mountains and the turbulent river running upstream, Swat valley had for years attracted a countless number of tourists. The residents of Swat had maintained their centuries-old values and traditions which stem from the region’s principles of peace, harmony and equity. For the past decade and a half, Swat’s residents had been surrounded by insecurity, which was further exacerbated by poverty. Until recently, the area had been deprived of the most basic services. Lack of trust and access to fundamental rights amongst people was apparent even to a visitor, who had not yet seen the exact state of deprivation. … Read more

Communities lead the charge on sustainable water management

13 Mar 2018

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Not too long ago, Haji Khalil, a 48-year-old farmer, could not walk through his fields without a sense of guilt. His farm was in Bhama, a village on the fertile river plain of Punjab, the “land of five rivers” in Pakistan. His vegetables and grain crops flourished and there was a vast market for his produce in the nearby city of Lahore, but the faint, omnipresent smell in the air reminded him that his crops were irrigated by sewage. “I always considered this land to be our mother that feeds us when we are hungry,” he said. “It gives us shelter, it provides space to my elders when they die, and in response, what I am giving back is untreated sewage full of human pathogens.” Haji Khalil’s words resonate with farmers across Pakistan and the world. Unsafe water not only has impacts on the food we grow from it, it affects the entire ecosystem. As my years of working with UNDP in Pakistan and Egypt have brought home, sustainable water management in the face of growing global demand, is amongst the most urgent needs of our time. Stories like Haji Khalil’s bring to life the facts and figures that demonstrate Pakistan’s … Read more

Self-belief, personal motivation, and family support drives women’s engagement in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas

07 Mar 2018

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In October 2017, our innovation Positive Deviance pilot project really began to gather steam. Our implementing partner, Humanitarian Development Organization Doaba (HDOD), had been brought on board in view of their extensive experience working in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). As explained in our first blog post, FATA is Pakistan’s most excluded region – and this exclusion is felt most acutely by women whose everyday lives are deeply constrained by traditional tribal values that leave little space for their engagement in public life and discourse. … Read more

"Necessity is the mother of invention”: tradition, women in public life, and the space for innovation

15 Jan 2018

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FATA is a remote mountainous region which sweeps down western Pakistan, hugging the border with Afghanistan. It has historically faced political and socio-economic development constraints which have caused poverty to be pervasive and private and public infrastructure and livelihood opportunities have been limited in the area. The women of FATA have been disproportionately negatively affected by these circumstances; they live on the margins of the tribal public life due to cultural limitations imposed on their social interaction and mobility. The notion of “private woman and public man” explains the situation well; women’s voices on important issues including their perspective on development remain unheard at all levels. … Read more

Empowering youth through design thinking

13 Dec 2017

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What do young Pakistani entrepreneurs need to ease their journey to success? How can they contribute to the country’s sustainable development and build a brighter future for themselves? Through design thinking, a revolutionary framework for innovation, we can envisage what can be, and chart out the actions required to achieve that future. The first requirement is good policy. Design thinking can help us understand how policy support from the government can facilitate start-ups. Whilst Pakistan has a Youth Policy, there is a need for a policy framework that acknowledges youth-led start-ups as economic contributors and addresses the challenges they face. UNDP Pakistan has a crucial role in advocating for the cross-sectoral planning required, engaging with academia and the private sector, and amplifying the voices of entrepreneurs to strengthen the entrepreneurial eco-system and introduce “start-up packages” for youth entrepreneurs. … Read more

Engage, innovate, co-create

30 Nov 2017

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The energy was infectious at the National Incubation Centre, in Islamabd, where young people had gathered to design solutions for the start-up ecosystem in Pakistan. The event was first of its kind organized by UNDP Pakistan that used design thinking—where young entrepreneurs shared their challenges with stakeholders and worked with them to co-create solutions. The event was part of UNDP’s Regional Youth Co:Lab initiative, which supports young social entrepreneurs in Pakistan. Pakistan’s ‘youth bulge’ offers a unique opportunity for socioeconomic growth as a large population of energetic, creative and tech-savvy young people can play a major role in sustainable development. Through its Youth Empowerment Programme, UNDP Pakistan is engaging thousands of young people to harness their dynamism and unlock their hidden potential, empowering them to solve their own problems. The programme utilizes design thinking sessions to respond to young people’s needs, encouraging inclusion and innovation by making young people part of the solutions and experimenting with ideas for improved results. … Read more

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