If I can describe the work of the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme in one sentence, I would say that it works for both the protection of the environment and development. Most people would think that protecting the environment is something that distracts society from developing technologies, facilities, and the making of profits. However, GEF SGP is the place where we research how to do both simultaneously.
The joint United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme Social Innovation and Volunteerism in Uzbekistan Project is harnessing the social innovation of young people to tackle development challenges.
By providing training, advocacy, and grants to young innovators UNV is helping to unlock the talent and entrepreneurial skills of Uzbek youth, many of whom previously lacked opportunities to contribute to development.
Tashkent, Uzbekistan: Few people realize that, although currently there is no cure for HIV, the existing medicine has turned HIV into a chronic disease, with which HIV-positive people can and do live long, productive, flourishing lives, and have HIV-negative partners and children. Moreover, if taken correctly, modern medicine minimizes the risk of HIV transmission to others and allows partners to take preventative medicine. Yet, misunderstanding and stigma persist.
"I am going to Uzbekistan"; "Where? Pakistan?"; "No. Uz-be-ki-stan"; "Aaah! West Pakistan!"
During my year as a UN Volunteer in Uzbekistan, I have often shared stories about the confusion that habitually ensued when I, proudly, announced my upcoming UNV assignment to friends and family. What I secretly omitted is that I myself had to google the country before being able to pinpoint its precise location in Central Asia.
It has been almost a year since I flew to Uzbekistan to take up my role as ‘Community Outreach Specialist’ for a joint UNDP/UNV youth empowerment project.
In February 2014, 25 community volunteers were trained within the UN Joint Programme "Sustaining livelihoods affected by the Aral Sea disaster" to improve awareness on tuberculosis and other chronic respiratory diseases among the population of five districts of Karakalpakstan.
This year, 75 such trainings will take place, and 1,500 volunteers will be trained within the programme.
Maksuda Muhsinbaeva is serving as a UNV Community Volunteer Coordinator in Namangan, the most populous city of the Fergana Valley in Eastern Uzbekistan. She has a background in psychology, a decade-long record in community development with both local and international organizations, and is now one of several national UN Volunteers working in Uzbekistan.
Tashkent, Uzbekistan: For as long as she can remember, Madina has loved to study and discover for herself the traditions and cultures of different Anglophone countries. Despite initial fears about the challenges of assuming a teaching position without formal pedagogical training, her desire to contribute something to society and to share her knowledge with younger generations prevailed and still remains her daily source of motivation.
Last July, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme in Uzbekistan joined forces to launch a two and half year project supporting volunteers and other young enthusiasts who want to make a positive impact in their communities. We are pleased to say that nine months later the project is bustling with activity.
Tashkent, Uzbekistan: The Ecological Boomerang project or 'Eco-Boom', as people commonly refer to it began its activities in Fergana in September. A joint initiative of UNV and the UNDP resource centre in Tashkent, and financially supported by UNV Uzbekistan under its IYV+10 Mini-Grant initiative, the project began its first training of trainers in October.
Tashkent, Uzbekistan: It was a great honour for me, as the national IYV+10 Coordinator in Uzbekistan, to directly participate in the celebration of the birth of the United Nations. We enjoyed a gorgeous autumn day in Tashkent on Monday 24 October, still blessed with vitamin D from the sun.