Our Perspective

When it Comes to Urban Resilience to Natural Disasters, Better Connected Means Better Prepared!

29 Jun 2017

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Belgrade, 29th June 2017 –Three years after the devastating floods, which ravaged several countries of South-East Europe, namely Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia, local government leaders and disaster risk reduction professionals from across the region are working towards reinforcing concrete infrastructure and equipment with functional networks of inter-municipal partnerships. Financed by the European Union and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the First Round-Table Discussion held in Belgrade within the regional project “SEE URBAN – South East Europe Urban Resilience Building Action Network” brought together policy makers and professionals connected by shared risks of natural disasters, which affect towns and municipalities across the region. Ivan Bošnjak, State Secretary of Serbian Ministry of State Administration and Local Government and Sandra Nedeljković, Deputy Head of Serbia’s Public Investment Management Office stressed that just as the flood waters of 2014 crossed administrative lines of municipal jurisdictions, so also must joint efforts to connect and strengthen inter-municipal networks across shared river basins and, hence, shared risks of future flooding. When disaster struck in May of 2014, the quickest support came from those closest to affected towns:  the neighbouring municipalities. Immediate rescue and relief efforts and subsequent recovery across the region brought about a growing  Read More

Convening partnerships which engage and deliver trust and solidarity

20 Jun 2017

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“My name is Ali Akbari, I’m from Afghanistan, but for the past five months the town of Preševo, in Serbia, has been my home. I’ve been travelling with my mother, my three sisters and my nephew. There’s no work for them here, so our plan is to move to Hungary or someplace else. I like it here, If I were travelling alone, I would consider staying here. I speak English, maybe I could find a job here, work as a translator“ says Ali, who is one of 583 migrants and refugees currently located in the Preševo Reception Centre. Although Ali is only 21, before embarking on a 14-month long journey, Ali had successfully run his own travel agency back in Afghanistan for years. “Something that I had built for three years I had to close down in two hours and take my family to safety.” Over a million refugees and migrants have transited through Serbia since the onset of the ongoing refugee and migration crisis. The number of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants currently located in Serbia is over 6,000, with more than 90% accommodated in 18 centers located across Serbia, primarily in border municipalities closest to either points of entry or  Read More

Roma families: Building a Better Future after Readmission

07 Dec 2016

image An employee of Mahala 1, construction cooperative that employs Roma population

Dalibor is a Roma man who was forced to return to Vranje after he was denied asylum in Germany. Unemployed, married with two children of elementary school age, he is struggling to make ends meet. This destiny of Dalibor is shared by many more Roma people in Serbia, who are going back and forth to and from the European Union countries, especially after the onset of the refugee and migration crisis last year. Some of them have been deported and some have decided to return on a so-called “voluntary” basis. Most of them from Germany. Some spent 5-6 months there, some several years. Making ends meet was easier there. They say how nice it is when your children go to a nice school, when you can buy them sweets every day because this makes them happy, they explain what sort of community work they had to do in “return” for social welfare payments. But. There is always a “but”. They felt lonely, they didn’t speak the language. When they went to see a doctor, they could not explain what was wrong with them. Roma were missing their community … and, they really, truly want to live in Serbia, with their families,  Read More

Sports courts – a place that connects locals and migrants

14 Sep 2016

image The renovated school-ground sports courts in Adasevci

Adasevci is a small village in the North-West Serbia, bordering Croatia, which belongs to the municipality of Sid. Prior to 2015, this village lived like many others – in the small, farming community practically all citizens knew one another, went to the same Cultural Center, received medical care in the same local health center. Its 335 children got their primary education in the town’s school and played on the schoolyard’s run-down sports courts. The town got wider publicity when one of its inhabitants, Branislav Ivanovic, emerged from the anonymity – taking his hometown along with him – by becoming the captain of the national football team and of London’s Chelsea Football Club. Still it wasn’t Mr. Ivanovic but the town’s geographical position that placed it in the national, and even international spotlight. Since the onset of the migration crisis in September 2015, 700,000 migrants and refugees have transited though Sid on their way to their final destinations. Such influx of migrants has affected municipal assets and quality of services provided by competent service providers. Due to generous acceptance and hospitality of people of Adasevci, this municipality was one of the examples of best practices in efficient admission and humane treatment of  Read More

Open Data: Open Opportunities

12 Jan 2016

image Data is one of the most valuable and least utilized assets of modern governments: Steliana Nedera, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative at the opening of the "Open opportunities" conference

Data is probably one of the most valuable and least utilized assets of modern governments. The primary purpose of open data initiatives worldwide is to help governments, businesses, and societies more smartly utilize the data resources they already possess, and to empower them to compete in this increasingly digital world and successfully leverage the data revolution. Open data refers to digital data that is available online, for free or at a marginal cost, for anyone to use and republish for any purpose, and in a format that can be readily processed and analyzed by computers. Open data initiatives in many cases refer to turning data that is already publicly available into formats that can be reused, making it a powerful resource for private sector development, jobs creation, economic growth, and more effective governance and citizen engagement. Across the world, local and national governments are learning that smart data management helps them create new businesses and job opportunities, improve efficiency in the provision of public services, improve outcomes for citizens, and increase participation of citizens and society as a whole. The fact that the European Commission is investing considerable amounts of finances to overcome the problem of delivering large amounts of data  Read More

On violence: A new approach in Serbia with the New School

30 Oct 2014

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Recent statistics reveals the alarming prevalence of violence against women in Serbia: 54 percent of women were exposed to some form of violence during their lifetime, while only 10 percent contacted services for assistance. This violence presents a complex social problem. It is both a root cause of gender inequality as well as an extreme consequence of social norms that condone this type of discrimination. Life in fear impedes women to fully realize their own capacities, competencies, and goals for the future. UNDP in Serbia has been partnering with and supporting actors at the national, provincial, and local levels to ameliorate the situation. A majority of our interventions put the women survivors in the centre, creating and supporting services that address their needs. However, a victim-focused protection system often misses the elephant in the room: the perpetrator. It is not a mystery that not all perpetrators receive appropriate sanctions. There remains a significant discrepancy between the number of perpetrators registered by the social protection and police system, and those who eventually receive some form of judicial sanctions or punishment. In addition, many perpetrators get involved in new relationships and tend to repeat violent acts with their new partners. These facts urge outside-the-box thinking alongside new services targeting those perpetrators the system  Read More

It takes a community to end violence against women

05 Mar 2014

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We are increasingly aware that prevention and effective protection of survivors of violence requires the involvement of the entire society. Neighbors, friends and family, school system, media professionals are all responsible for publically condemning the violence against women, detecting and denouncing it. On a reverse side, the institutions in charge for protection of victims have the obligation to demonstrate power in stopping the perpetrators of violence, while supporting and empowering the survivor. An African proverb says: “It takes a village to raise a child”. Or, to rephrase:”It takes a community to end violence against women”. “A battered woman requested medical assistance for injuries several times in a local healthcare center. The healthcare workers “suspected” she’s been abused by her partner, but she “never admitted” they said. Police intervened to stop violence in three occasions: the first time during the wedding party when he battered her to blood and kicked their daughter in the stomach in front of more than 100 persons. The second time, the police stopped him while he was knocking down the door of her parents’ house, where she escaped to seek shelter. The third time, it was when they arrested her son who was violent against another boy  Read More

Combating Discrimination and Violence

03 Mar 2014

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Interview by Ms. Irena Vojačkova-Sollorano, UN Resident Coordinator in Serbia to Cord magazine The United Nations in Serbia are a family of 25 development agencies that are recognized for their role  and efforts in supporting the citizens and institutions to build safe, secure and stable society on the principles of fairness and equal opportunity for all. A recent study entitled "Attitude of public authorities towards discrimination in Serbia", which was conducted for the needs of the Commissioner for the protection of equality, with the support of UNDP, by Ipsos Strategic Marketing, showed a worrying incidence of discriminatory behaviour in state institutions. Which institutions are the most affected? - Over half of respondents from the state administration believe that their colleagues have expressed discriminatory behaviour or voiced discriminatory opinions. However, one must note that there is still insufficient understanding of the very notion of discrimination and its basic elements, including that discrimination must always have a personal distinctive characteristic as a basis for unequal treatment. -Courts and Public Prosecutors offices are the most frequently recognized as institutions which do not treat citizens equally. They are contrasted by Vojvodina province institutions, while the national Government, the Parliament, local assemblies and administrations are in  Read More

Why do we need Disaster Loss Database? An answer comes from Serbia

24 Oct 2013

“We cannot eliminate disasters, but we can mitigate risk. We can reduce damage and we can save more lives” - Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General Every dollar (1$) invested into disaster prevention, saves seven dollars (7$) used to restore life in the disaster’s aftermath. But to know where to invest, one needs information on where a disaster could occur. Although no two disasters are alike, attention should be paid to recurrence. That is why we need a tool that provides us with a better understanding of the disaster trends and their impacts based on which informed prevention, mitigation and preparedness measures can be planned. DesInventar is one of the very few proven tools for building such a database and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Sector for Emergency Management (SEM) of the Ministry on Interior of the Republic of Serbia are piloting it right here in Serbia! DesInventar permits standardized collection, analysis and graphic representation of the information on disaster occurrences and losses they produce. Serbia is one of only five countries in Europe piloting the database and our work on it began in February of this year (2013). After  Read More

Work with perpetrators - better protection for victims of gender based violence

01 Oct 2013

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Centers for Social Work (CSW) exist in every municipality in Serbia and they constitute the backbone of social protection system. They are referring to the centralized decision-making institution, Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Policy – UNDP’s primary national partner in the field of combating gender based violence. During the past five years, UNDP was supporting the social protection system to tackle gender dimension of violence more thoroughly. These efforts resulted in a new policy framework which obliges the institutional/general service providers to pay a particular attention to the gender based violence when responding to the protection needs of the victim. Three years ago UNDP in Serbia made a step forward and piloted a new approach, aiming to expand the range of protection services in addressing violence against women (VaW). The basic idea was to slightly twist the common perspective by putting the focus of the intervention on perpetrator rather than on a victim/survivor only. We introduced the programme for work with perpetrators of violence against women, based on the Norwegian best practice model “Alternativ Til Vold” (Alternative to Violence – ATV: http://atv-stiftelsen.no/engelsk). UNDP contacted three strongest City Centers for Social Work (CCSW) who had functional Counseling Centers for Marriage and  Read More

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