Voices from Europe & Central Asia
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March 2018

Belarus – looking behind the facades

Alex Kremer's picture
Also available in: Русский
I began work in Belarus last September. Looking back, I can see three phases in my love affair with Belarus.
 
In the first phase, before I came here, I heard the stereotypes about Belarus’s reputation, the simple clichés spread about by journalists too lazy to recognize the country’s complexity. You know them as well as me: “the last dictatorship in Europe”, “the last remnant of the Soviet Union”, the republic of potatoes, the land of grey buildings and grey skies.
Night scene in downtown Minsk, Belarus.
 

Celebrating 85 years of Civil Protection in Romania to thank those who save lives, alleviate suffering and protect livelihoods

Tatiana Proskuryakova's picture
Also available in: Română

 
Romania recently celebrated 85 years of civil protection. In our day-to-day lives, we rarely pause to think of the decisive role played by civil protection agencies. But as soon as disaster strikes, these dedicated men and women lead efforts to save lives, protect livelihoods, and alleviate suffering. Your rescuer of the day may be a police officer directing evacuation, a volunteer providing first aid and shelter, a paramedic treating injuries, a weather forecaster providing timely advisories, or a local official coordinating actions. In other words, a well-functioning civil protection system is a diverse ecosystem of people and agencies - all with a clear and valuable role to play.

This was not always the case.

Imagination Meets Innovation

Cyril Muller's picture

In 2005, Wayne Fromm, a Canadian inventor, filed for US patent # 7,684,694. Today, Fromm’s invention is known around the globe as a ‘selfie stick.’  Although this invention is now synonymous with cellphones, it had its film debut nearly fifty years ago, as a prop in a 1969  sci-fi film called “I killed Einstein, Gentlemen.”

In this case, it took almost five decades for technology to finally meet people’s imagination. In the same 1960s, expectations were that flying cars would be the norm by 2000. In 2000, these expectations had not materialized and flying cars seemed again the domain of science-fiction. Yet, today they are becoming reality.
 

For Central Asia, investing in children’s health is the best investment for the future

Lilia Burunciuc's picture
Also available in: Русский


Millions of children around the world are prevented from reaching their full developmental potential because of poor environment and nutrition. In the more extreme cases, these children face stunting — a condition that arises when children grow much less than is expected for their age.

In 2016, an estimated 155 million kids – about one quarter of all young children worldwide – were affected by stunting. Sadly, undernutrition claims about 3 million young lives every year – representing almost half of all deaths of children under the age of five.

Young children who lack access to pre-primary education also lack access to essential services that support a healthy childhood. Kids who are poorly nourished, who are stunted, and who do not receive adequate stimulation before their fifth birthday are likely to learn less at school and earn less as adults. They are also less ready to compete as adults in an increasingly digital economy.

In Central Asia, I am glad to say that we are starting to see progress on the path toward eliminating childhood stunting. In every country in the region, the share of children who are stunted is on the decrease. This is a remarkable achievement, due in large part to the commitment of governments and communities to address malnutrition. We must remain determined to ensure this progress continues.

Creating dialogue and citizen engagement – initial observations from Uzbekistan

Nina Kolybashkina's picture
I started my assignment in Uzbekistan in 2015, working on social issues such as labor rights, gender mainstreaming, and citizen engagement. This work was certainly not without its challenges, at a time when Uzbekistan ranked among the worst performers on democracy and accountability, and before the process of liberalizing the economy had begun.

I never imagined, therefore, when I temporarily left Uzbekistan in late 2016, that I would return just a half year later to find the country in the midst of a significant transformation.

The key to unlocking the economic potential of the Western Balkans? Women.

Linda Van Gelder's picture
Also available in: Shqip | Русский
Since arriving to the Western Balkans nearly one year ago, I have had the distinct pleasure of working with extraordinary people around the region - one of the most interesting and dynamic locations in the world. Not a day goes by that I am not inspired by the likes of Marija Bosheva’s, who is studying to become a scientist at a new laboratory for oenology and soil science in the FYR Macedonia, or Valoriana Hasi, a young Kosovar now working in ICT after completing a training for women in online work.
 
Stories like these remind me of the vast economic potential of this region, especially if countries here tap into one of their most valuable resources: women.