Our Perspective

      • MDGs 2015: Latin America needs equality and environmental sustainability | Heraldo Muñoz

        05 Apr 2013

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        Children in Uruguay, where a maternal and infant health programme has drastically improved health markers for children by providing the poorest populations with healthcare, nutritional training and food. (Photo: UNDP Uruguay)

        One thousand days from the 2015 target date, Latin America and the Caribbean is well on the way to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Poverty has been reduced to the lowest levels in three decades. Child mortality has dropped and we are fighting diseases, with some countries spearheading innovation in universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care. The commitments made 13 years ago led the region to fine-tune some groundbreaking social policies which, along with rapid economic growth and job creation, helped lift millions from poverty while reducing inequalities. But Latin America and the Caribbean remains the most unequal region in the world—and the most violent. Moreover, too many women still die in childbirth and countries need to boost gender parity in employment and parliaments as well as access to education and reproductive health services. Sanitation must also be improved and more needs to be done to reverse forest loss. In addition, average MDG achievement for countries with historical inequalities is insufficient. In the Brazilian states of São Paulo and Piauí, or in the Mexican states of Nuevo León and Chiapas, MDG achievement rates are considerably different. To tackle such disparities, UNDP and other UN agencies have been partneringRead More

      • Violence, crime still plague Latin America | Heraldo Muñoz

        31 Jan 2013

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        More than 1,000 judges, clerks, prosecutors and police officers in Haiti received training in technical areas of criminal investigations, sex crimes or judicial inspection. Photo: UNDP Haiti

        Latin America now enjoys stronger, better integrated economies and more solid democracies than it did 20 years ago. The region is more prosperous and less poor. But epidemic crime and violence threaten to undermine recent gains and demand urgent, innovative public policy solutions. From 2000-2010, homicide rates across the region rose by 11 percent while declining in most regions worldwide. In countries with data for 1980-90, robberies have almost tripled over the last 25 years. One in 10 robberies involves violence, usually with firearms. On a typical day in Latin America, 460 people are victims of sexual violence, usually women. A recent poll found people in Latin America and the Caribbean least likely in the world to feel safe in their communities, with slightly less than half of residents reporting in 2011 that they feel unsafe walking alone at night where they live. That poses a fundamental problem in furthering development. Why open a business only to have it robbed by armed gunmen? Why send a daughter to school if she risks assault along the way? Why such insecurity in a region whose economic and governance indices are moving in the right direction? UNDP’s forthcoming Human Development Report for Latin AmericaRead More

      • Beyond mountains, Haitians see a brighter future | Heraldo Muñoz

        11 Jan 2013

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        Young women entrepreneurs in Haiti received a US$500 grant for the development of their business. Photo: UNDP in Haiti

        “Beyond the mountains, more mountains,” one Haitian proverb goes, in a nod to the outsized challenges this half-island in the Caribbean has faced for as long as anyone can remember. Topping that list is the 2010 earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people, displaced 1.5 million, and racked or razed some 300,000 buildings. The quake took its deadliest aim in Haiti’s hyper-urbanized capital, causing indescribable ruin and destroying roughly 80 percent of the country’s economy. But Haitians are accustomed to scaling mountains. Government, private sector, and international organizations are working with families and communities to rebuild the country and revive its economy. Women, who head almost 50 per cent of households, are playing a leading role. Keeping Haitians and their communities as protagonists of the recovery process is fundamental. Within neighborhoods, community members themselves set priorities for rebuilding homes and infrastructure through community platform meetings, with specific attention to the unique risks facing city-dwellers—strengthening the social and communal bonds that bolster post-crisis resilience by an order of magnitude. To enable families to take charge of repairing and rebuilding their homes themselves, UNDP has established community support centres to help strengthen damaged homes in the Haitian capital, where 30,000 people have benefittedRead More