Voices from Europe & Central Asia
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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.
 

In Moldova, waiting for the snow to melt

Anna Akhalkatsi's picture
Also available in: Română | Русский
In Moldova, waiting for the snow to melt

It is a crisp winter morning and from my office window I can see the city outside. It appears black and white. White because of buildings made from limestone – which came from old mines now replaced by wine cellars. Black because of trees and their shadows across snow-covered streets, parks, and squares. But that is just the view from my window.

What can an Uzbek mountain town learn from an Austrian eco-friendly tourism destination?

Rosanna Nitti's picture
Also available in: Русский
Hiking recently around Chartak in Uzbekistan’s Namangan Region, I was struck by the area’s natural beauty and literally (and figurately) got my second breadth. At 650 meters above sea level, this modest town in the Ferghana Valley enjoys evergreen alpine pastures and rocky panoramas, and is permeated by a constant supply of high-altitude fresh air and crystal-clear, mineral-rich waters.

Sustainable tourism can be an economic lifeline for many mountain communities and help create job opportunities for their young people – which is all the more important since three-quarters of people living in extreme poverty in Uzbekistan live in rural areas.
 


 

Reforming victim support services: Lessons from Serbia

Georgia Harley's picture
Also available in: Русский
Victims of crime are among the most vulnerable groups in need of government services - from basic information to shelters, hotlines, health and psychological services, legal assistance, and more. Yet, support services are often inadequate or even unavailable, leaving victims feeling helpless and abandoned by the justice system. This brings a range of economic and social welfare costs that should be avoided.

But how do we prevent these negative, spillover effects?

Energy challenges in the Kyrgyz Republic: It’s time to act!

Zamir Chargynov's picture
Also available in: Русский
Last week, a technical failure occurred at Bishkek’s Heat and Power Plant, leaving parts of the capital city temporarily without power and heat supply. People residing in buildings connected to the district heating system experienced very cold and uncomfortable conditions, made worse by the exceptionally harsh winter this year. While the specific causes of the incident are still being investigated, it seems clear that old equipment at the Plant which is being operated well beyond its shelf-life was behind the failure.

Bishkek Heat and Power Plant

How do courts impact the business climate… really?

Georgia Harley's picture
Also available in: Русский
Tim Cordell, Cartoonstock.com

We know that the justice system dampens the business climate in many of the countries where we work. In Bank reports, national strategies, and in common parlance, we lament that poorly performing courts delay business activity, undermine predictability, increase risks and constrain private sector growth. Going further, we conclude that weak justice systems disproportionately hamper micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) because they have less buffer to absorb these problems - which can become make-or-break for their businesses.

So that’s the ‘what’ but, precisely, how, do courts impact businesses?
 

The high toll of traffic injuries in Central Asia: unacceptable and preventable

Aliya Karakulova's picture
Also available in: Русский

Did you know that in Kazakhstan we live in the country with the deadliest roads? Every year, 3,000 people die on roads in Kazakhstan, and over 30,000 are injured. Imagine if an airplane crashed every month! Would you fly?

We are 11 times more likely to die in a traffic accident in Kazakhstan than in Norway. Indeed, the numbers for road deaths are high in all Central Asian countries.

The High Toll of Traffic Injuries in Central Asia
Source: WHO, 2013


Globally, road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death among people aged between 15 and 29 years. Not cancer, not heart diseases, and not wars.

Life changing injuries and deaths affect countries in terms of health care and economic costs – the annual economic loss of road deaths in Central Asian countries is estimated at around 3-4% of GDP.

But beyond this monetary value, lies a person’s life. 

E-justice: does electronic court reporting improve court performance?

Georgia Harley's picture
Also available in: Română


More and more courts are going digital. But does this improve judicial performance?
 
Legal literature on ‘e-justice’ seems to think so. So too does the World Development Report, ‘Digital Dividends,’ which highlights the potential for ICT to improve the transparency and quality of government service delivery.
 
As electronic court reporting is one key aspect of this trend, we want to take the opportunity to look at the pros and cons of improving judicial performance in different contexts.

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