Development Blog

Business coalition for the SDGs: Call to action

20 Nov 2017


  When world leaders adopted the Sustainable Development Goals in September 2015, it was clear that they were way broader and much more ambitious than the Millennium Development Goals adopted in 2000. It was also obvious that achieving them would cost a lot more than governments could afford from their own funds or from aid. One estimate puts the global cost at around $2.5 trillion per year.  Making the SDGs happen therefore needed the private to contribute. But in what ways, and how, and what is it worth to the private sector? So far this has not been spelled out and indeed there is a fear that firms will be asked directly to contribute funds to meeting the SDGs. But this is not the intention and the private sector can contribute to the SDGs as well as boosting profits. Here’s how. Of course corporate social responsibility is well established and businesses have found ways to make contributions to the greater good and improve their image while, at the same time, increasing profits. , But actions need to go beyond this and involve firms doing things they already do in the course of doing business. By doing them better and behaving responsibly,  Read More

Science and Sense to Seismic Risk Reduction

22 Sep 2017

image Kathmandu city. Photo: UN

In many parts of the world, people have a fatalistic attitude to hazards and risks, sometimes claiming acts of god when disaster strikes. But when we examine how hazards turn into disasters, the results are often human-made.  Take for instance the recent landslide in Sierra Leone in which an entire hillside gave way under intense rain, burying hundreds of houses under thick mud, killing over 500 people. The houses and dwellings had been built without sufficient drainage, nor with any consideration to the geological hazard of the hillside. The poorest dwellings, which outnumbered the bricks and mortar homes, were built without regulation, crowded into a small space and lacked safe construction materials. Similarly, in Nepal, close to 9,000 people died in the 2015 earthquakes when buildings crumbled when the earth started shaking. It wasn’t the earthquake that was deadly; it was the unstable vulnerable structures that couldn’t withstand the huge shock. An earthquake of similar magnitude occurred in Chile in December 2016, but resulted in zero casualties. Nevertheless, anything that is manufactured can be improved to reduce disaster risk. In the case of Nepal, a seismically vulnerable country, strengthening the structural elements of houses and buildings, choice of safe locations for  Read More

Two Years on, Reflections on the Nepal Earthquake and the Humanitarian Response

07 Jun 2017


The American Club is a large open space in the heart of Kathmandu where expatriates enjoy social and sports activities. This is where I was a little over two years ago with my kids on Saturday 25 April 2015, a date I will never forget. I was coaching a dozen kids playing soccer , when just before noon we were all violently thrown to the ground by a huge wave. The green field became for seconds -- which felt like never-ending minutes -- a stormy ocean, forcing us to crawl towards each other to hold and reassure ourselves.  The earth was rumbling, kids were screaming, buildings outside the perimeter of the club crumbling in clouds of dust, the club’s water reservoir erupting like a geyser. It felt like the end of the world.  A 7.8 earthquake had hit Kathmandu. It would take the lives of close to 9,000 people and destroy and damage more than half a million houses. It was expected, but now it had thrown the lives of hundreds of thousands in chaos and it would change my role as Director of UNDP in Nepal for months to come.  More than two years have passed since that day, but  Read More

“Having a disability doesn’t mean you are disabled”

15 Dec 2016


I was born in 1994, but barely a year after that, I fell sick with very high fever. Since there were few medical facilities available in Ratnavati, the remote corner of Sindhuli that we lived in, the illness went untreated for more than six months, with disastrous results. My right hand and leg were both paralyzed, and my father—in desperation—finally took me to doctors in Kathmandu. But it was too late: my hand got better but I lost complete use of my leg. I was a cripple. A burden. And I would never live a normal life. Still, even though I couldn’t play like the other kids, I persevered in my schoolwork. And later, when my family moved to the district’s Dudhauli Municipality, I also cleared my School Leaving Certificate exams. At this point, I wasn’t yet entirely sure what I could do, given the constraints my disability had put on most career prospects, leaving me feeling very lost. But, in 2013, everything changed. I’d heard about a quilt-making training that was being offered by the Human and National Development Society (HANDS) Nepal, and thought I would give it a shot. Initially, the staff there were skeptical of my being able  Read More

How the SDGs can guide Nepal’s recovery

24 Apr 2016


By Renaud Meyer, UNDP Nepal Country Director One year ago today, I was playing soccer with my two boys in Kathmandu when at 11:56 the ground started to roll like waves on the ocean. We were struck by a magnitude 7.8 earthquake. By the end of that scary day filled with immediate and strong aftershocks, we started realizing the extent of the damage and feared for the lives lost. After the second earthquake of May 12 and once clear information had been collected from all the affected areas, Nepal had lost 8,880 people. Around 800.000 houses and buildings were destroyed or damaged. Some 3 million people were displaced and thousands of livelihoods were lost. The Post Disaster Needs Assessment pegged the damages and losses at US$7 billion. As we were progressively transitioning from humanitarian to recovery, Nepal suddenly had to address a challenging political and economic six-month period after the promulgation of its long-awaited constitution in September 2015. Disagreements between political parties and parts of the Nepali society over the constitution led to political tensions delaying the passage of the Reconstruction Act and the establishment of the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA). Further, these tensions led to an economic crisis due to  Read More

Nepal on my Mind – Looking Back and Looking Forward

15 May 2015

image A student demonstrates school newspaper about disaster risk reduction.

I was taking in the weekend in the Maldives, where I am now posted, when I received a text: “Earthquake in Nepal. 7.5 – 7.9 magnitude.” I immediately switched on BBC. A reporter in New Delhi was talking about Nepal’s seismic vulnerability, but not much real-time information was available. I turned to Facebook and Twitter. Colleagues and friends in Nepal started to confirm their safety. Slowly footage of destroyed buildings and world heritage sites started to roll in. Since then, I have been staggered by the scenes of devastation. As a Japanese citizen, I am no stranger to seismic events. As I watched the scenes in Nepal, memories from 20 years ago flooded my mind. I was living in Tokyo, in 1995, when a huge earthquake hit my hometown. I helplessly watched the devastation of Kobe. When the city where you grew up is shattered, and family and friends are affected, trauma and sorrow reach a whole new level. Three days after the Great Tohoku Earthquake in Japan in March 2011, which triggered a Tsunami as well, I arrived in Kathmandu for my assignment with UNDP. While UNDP works in a wide range of areas, disaster risk management has always been  Read More

Poverty climate connection

16 Apr 2015

image Installation of taps and water system has provided multiple benefits to the communities in Jajarkot district. These include, easy access to drinking water, improved sanitation and increase in production of vegetables, among other things. Photos: Avani Dixit/ UNDP Nepal

Climate change exacerbates poverty among the poorest, yet simple adaptation measures seem to make a difference. The interplay between poverty and vulnerability to disasters and climate change is clearly visible in Nepal’s mountainous districts, especially in the country’s far west region. Not surprisingly Nepal ranks high on disaster and climate change vulnerabilities and poverty indexes. People’s vulnerability stems from poverty and lack of social safety nets, and disaster affects poor creating more poverty – there is a vicious cycle. Most of the poor are subsistence farmers with little or no assets. Poor’s assets are localized and inflexible – they cannot be readily exchanged for cash – and a hazard such as flood or landslide can damage their entire assets. Although farming is the main occupation, people are not able to grow enough food for a whole year. Decent agricultural land is scarce, and even the most fundamental services are inaccessible – education, health, water, roads, markets, among other things. The youth go off to the Gulf States and seasonally to Northern India to work as laborers - unskilled youth migration is a major loss to Nepalese economy. Things are further complicated: these highly vulnerable places have seen a decline in crop  Read More

Counting climate spending

11 Sep 2014

Do you know how much your country spends on climate adaptation? Well we know how much Nepal does.  In Fiscal year 2013/14, Nepal spent 10 percent of national budget or about US $ 500 million. Many of you may think: Why does it matter? It does because despite making negligible contribution to the global warming, Nepal is one of the most vulnerable countries to the climate change. According to an Asian Development Bank report entitled "Assessing the Costs of Climate Change and Adaptation in South Asia," the effect of climate changes 'can cause losses equal to almost 10 percent of the country's annual gross domestic product (GDP) by 2100.' The country also has very little resource to spare for the costly adaptation process. For that very reason it needs to account for every dollar spent on adaptation. By developing a climate spending code, Nepal is now able to track all public spending for climate adaptation directly or indirectly. This will allow better targeting and efficient use of resources. Does your country keep track of climate spending? How vulnerable is your country to climate change?   Read More

A catalyst for peace

11 Aug 2014


Equipped with leadership skills and an understanding of their roles and responsibilities, more Nepali women are supporting their communities in peacebuilding and conflict resolution Over the past few decades, there has been a growing recognition of the importance of women’s leadership and the need for their participation in conflict prevention and peacebuilding. The adoption of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 and subsequent resolutions paved the way for women’s meaningful participation in peacebuilding processes. Nepal developed a National Action Plan (NAP), based on resolutions 1325 and 1820, to enhance augment the participation and leadership of women at all levels of decision-making, conflict transformation and peace processes, including taking measures to address specific needs of women and girls in the design and implementation of all relief and recovery programs, thereby leading to sustainable peace and a just society. However, centralized policymaking often does not reflect the needs and realities of different districts. There seems to be a gap between policy and implementation, especially in the Tarai region. In districts like Parsa, ambiguity still surrounds the role of women members in Local Peace Committees (LPCs). Though, the Government mandated 33 percent women’s representation in LPCs, limitations still exist concerning the extent to which  Read More

Disaster proofing micro-enterprise

26 Jun 2014

image Enterprise Development Facilitators working with entrepreneurs to complete a seasonal calendar of natural hazards

When we talk about disaster risk management we so rarely talk about how to help safeguard small businesses from the impacts of disaster Charikot, 21 June 2014 – When a disaster happens we find ourselves measuring its impact in lives. What is often not considered is the toll it has taken on the livelihoods of those that survive, and the resultant significant and widespread human suffering that will ripple through the economy of municipality, a region, or even an entire nation. The Ministry of Home Affairs Nepal estimates, in 2013 alone, that the country suffered NRs. 342,592,782 of direct losses as a result of disaster – approximately 2 percent of total GDP. In developing countries an average of 80 percent of the economy is comprised of small, medium and micro-enterprises. Nepal is no exception. Yet when we talk about disaster risk management we so rarely talk about how to help safeguard these small businesses from the impacts of disaster. Disasters are responsible for destroying land, crops, livestock, buildings, equipment, supply chains, and other assets every year, contributing to the impoverishment of many who may lose everything. The impact of disaster in Nepal acts as a detractor from long-term poverty alleviation and  Read More

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