As crises undermine development, opportunities for transformation often coexist, says UNDP report

22 Oct 2013

Despite progress in preventing conflicts and disasters  last year, many countries still face chronic crises and often remain mired in poverty.

"In many places around the world where conflicts and disasters escalated in 2012, we saw how crises can undermine development investment and cause terrible human suffering, especially in communities that are fragile and lack resilience," says Jordan Ryan, director of the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, in a new UNDP report.

"Even when crises do occur, major opportunities for transformation often coexist alongside all the terrible disruptions that conflicts and disasters bring."

The report, released this week, highlights UNDP’s achievements in preventing and responding to conflict and disasters in 2012."

[…]From Latin America and Caribbean nations, where high levels of crime and violence often exacerbate poverty; to Syria, where a deadly conflict and ensuing humanitarian crisis continues to extract a deadly toll; and to the Philippines, where Typhoon Bopha killed more than a thousand people and displaced hundreds of thousands more. All of these crises impede development, reinforce inequality and blunt efforts to lift people out of poverty," UNDP Administrator Helen Clark says in the report.

She pointed out that there was much tragedy in the course of the year – from the Arab States region to the Horn of Africa, the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Sahel, and to the Caribbean and the Americas, where Hurricane Sandy caused much damage and destruction.

But the report highlighted successes as well. From helping to bring justice to victims of human rights abuses in Guatemala, to analysing the impact of climate change on potential disasters in Kyrgyzstan, 2012 has yielded promising results for UNDP.

"As this report shows, 2012 was an extraordinary year for UNDP to advance its commitment to bring the benefit of development to countries beset by crises," Ryan says. "Given the indisputable challenges that confront our times, crisis prevention and recovery must remain a vital and core part of the world development agenda."

In 72 countries across the world, UNDP has been working to help countries respond to and recover from disasters and conflict. UNDP focuses on long-term development goals by helping affected populations access livelihoods, justice and the rule of law, while helping stabilize governments and prevent countries from relapsing into conflict  as they prepare for future catastrophes.

Some of the highlights of the report include:

  • With millions of refugees pouring out of Syria, UNDP provided urgent assistance to people displaced by the conflict.
  • In El Salvador, a country with one of the highest murder rates in the world, UNDP has been working to improve security, address gang violence and easy access to guns as well as address organized crime. In 2012, El Salvador experienced its first day without a single murder since 2009.
  • In Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Togo and Uganda, UNDP supported conflict prevention and mediation activities to ensure smooth and peaceful transitions of power.
  • Worldwide, UNDP-supported programmes have confiscated, destroyed or registered thousands of illegal weapons.