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Uzbekistan’s National Statistical System to Modernize with World Bank Support – Modern Diplomacy

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The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved today a $50 million concessional credit for Uzbekistan that will finance a five-year project supporting the Government’s efforts to modernize the national statistical system and improve the capacity of the State Committee on Statistics (SCS). These improvements will help produce and disseminate data in line with international standards.
The International Development Association (IDA), a part of the World Bank Group, will provide the concessional financing to the Government of Uzbekistan at a very low-interest rate, with a repayment period of 30 years, including a five-year grace period.
Strengthening the national statistical system is at the core of the Government’s reform agenda. Although the SCS’ statistical data sharing capacity has increased significantly since 2017, the ongoing National Statistical Development Strategy recognizes that many existing systems are still outdated, labor-intensive, and do not comply with international standards.
The project will invest in rapid improvements in the agency’s human resources capacity and technological resources to process, analyze, and report key statistical measures. Its key components focus on improving the organizational structure and operational capacity of SCS, as well as improving statistical data production and data dissemination.
The project will assist Uzbekistan in carrying out its first population census since independence, help modernize national accounts, and increase coverage of essential development priorities, including gender equality, poverty reduction, and environmental sustainability.
The project also envisions transitioning the SCS’s operations from paper documents to electronic data collection and distribution, production of the Annual Statistical Yearbook, and development of the SCS’s official website, along with various related databases on its platform.
“With the World Bank’s technical support, the SCS prepared the National Strategy for the Development of Statistics for 2020-2025,” said Marco Mantovanelli, World Bank Country Manager for Uzbekistan. “We are proud to support the implementation of this strategy through the new project. High-quality statistical data will help advance Uzbekistan’s ambitious transformation by strengthening decision making and policy implementation based on data and evidence,” he concluded.
The country program for Uzbekistan is the World Bank’s second largest operation in the Europe and Central Asia region. It comprises 25 projects, – in areas, including economic management; agricultural modernization; health; education; water supply and sanitation; energy; transport; social protection; urban and rural infrastructure; and the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, among others.
Under its new five-year Country Partnership Framework currently in preparation, the World Bank will continue providing financial and analytical support to the Government to implement reforms provided by Uzbekistan’s Development Strategy for 2022-2026.
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In Ukraine, home to heavy industry and one of the largest coal mining operations in the world, passionate women entrepreneurs are adopting new approaches to business, putting environment and people first.
Valentina and Tetiana Denysenko were forced to flee Donetsk in eastern Ukraine after armed conflict broke out there seven years ago. They moved to the Kharkiv region and founded a mini-farm, Green for You, where they now grow lettuce, herbs, and microgreens – young shoots that are harvested as soon as they begin to grow. Every month, restaurants order 300 kilograms of produce from the sisters.
This is one example of the kinds of projects and initiatives supported by the UN migration agency (IOM), through its economic empowerment program which, in 2016, provided equipment for Green for You.
In order to create a network of similarly responsible businesses, IOM launched a pilot project called “Sustainably Made in Ukraine (Svidomo Made)” in November 2020, which led to the development of the first voluntary Corporate Sustainability Standard for small and medium-sized enterprises in the country.
The Standard  takes into account the Principles of the UN Global Compact – which include protection of human rights, ethical labour practices, environmental responsibility, and anti-corruption – international best practice, and national legislation.
In a recent survey, a quarter of Ukrainian consumers polled said that they regularly refuse to buy a brand’s product if they disagree with its stance on social and environmental issues. At the same time, half of the respondents said that the most important aspect of corporate social responsibility is the protection of the rights of employees and decent working conditions, whilst a third indicated that sustainability and environmental protection are important.
The study also showed that 75 percent of SMB leaders are willing to accept the voluntary Corporate Sustainability Standard because its principles reflect their own values.
Through the Svidomo Made project, consumers in Ukraine have become more aware of innovative businesses that support sustainable solutions. “The term ‘corporate sustainability’ is usually associated with big brands and corporations,” said Anh Nguyen, Head of the IOM Country Office in Ukraine. “People think it has little to do with micro, small and medium enterprises. However, they are the driving force behind the economic development of Ukraine, providing more than half of the country’s GDP. So, while the impact of a single micro or small business may seem small, their combined impact can be huge”.
For Valentina Denysenko of Green for You, the small business that she runs with her sister, the goal is to support sustainable consumption and production, using only eco-friendly packaging and waste-free technologies, but also to help children to understand why it’s important to learn about the world around them.
“We are going to launch a pilot project in two schools and help children create urban farms in the classroom,” she says. “The smartphone generation has no idea how plants grow, or how they end up on supermarket shelves. We want to educate them, and change their eating habits, by explaining that adding salads and microgreens to their daily diet is good for their health”.
This story is part of multimedia UN News series featuring prominent women leading initiatives for a more sustainable, equitable future, published ahead of this year’s International Women’s Day on 08 March.
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Six months after a devastating earthquake in south-west Haiti which caused the deaths of 2,200 people and injured 12,700 more, the international community is coming together with the Government of Haiti to raise up to $2 billion for the long-term recovery and reconstruction of the country. UN News explains why support is needed.
The 7.2 magnitude earthquake on 14 August 2021, struck the south-west of this Caribbean island nation causing widespread destruction in predominately rural areas. In addition to the deaths and injuries, thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed and key infrastructure including schools, hospitals, roads and bridges were wrecked, disrupting key services, transport, farming and commerce. The UN says around 800,000 people were impacted in some way or another; that includes 300,000 children whose schooling was disrupted.
In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, the Government with the support of the United Nations and others swung into action to provide emergency humanitarian aid to the affected people.  The UN humanitarian affairs office, OCHA, played a central role in coordinating the response. The International Organization for Migration provided temporary shelters for people who lost their homes, food and other items so people could get by. The provision of hot meals for school children by the World Food Programme was stepped up in order to encourage those children whose schools were not destroyed to carry on attending classes. Some 60 health facilities were also destroyed, so emergency wards were supported by the UN Population Fund UNFPA and UNICEF. Expectant mothers were cared for and often gave birth in tents.
Six months after the earthquake, Haiti has moved beyond the immediate emergency and is now looking at long-term recovery and reconstruction. In November, the Government published an assessment of the amount of money it needs to rebuild and recover; it amounts to close to $2 billion. Just over three-quarters of that, so around $1.5bn will go towards reinvigorating social services including housing, health, education and food security programmes. The rest will be spent on boosting agriculture, commerce and industry as well as repairing key infrastructure. Spending on environmental programmes has also been targeted.
Haiti is, of course, not unused to natural disasters and lessons have been learned from the devasting earthquake of 12 January 2010 in which an estimated 220,000 people died, largely in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and surrounding areas. The key takeaway from that catastrophic event and the response effort that followed was that national leadership is crucial.
In 2010, the government was directly impacted by the disaster and was ill equipped and unprepared to coordinate the emergency response on such a huge scale, and as a result, it was side-lined by the international community.
Haiti also has to do better in terms of introducing more robust disaster risk reduction measures.
The 2021 earthquake struck as Haiti was facing multiple crises of an economic, political, security, humanitarian and developmental nature. The country has high levels of poverty and ranks 170 out of 189 countries worldwide on the UN Development Programme’s Human Development Report 2020. The economy is in dire straits, not helped by a recent blockade of petrol deliveries by armed gangs which almost brought the country to a standstill. Insecurity, including kidnapping, is rife, with gangs controlling many neighbourhoods in the capital, Port-au-Prince. In July 2021, the President was assassinated whilst at home and an investigation into his death is continuing. 
On top of all this, Haiti is facing the ongoing threat of COVID-19.
On 16 February, the Government is hosting an international conference in Port-au-Prince at which it hopes to raise at least $1.6bn of the $2bn it needs to put the country back on track after the earthquake.
Many donor countries globally are struggling with the extra financial burden the pandemic has put on their resources. Moreover, Haiti is, in reality, competing for funds with other crises around the world, such as Afghanistan and the Ethiopian region, Tigray. One of Haiti’s trump cards may be its huge diaspora, especially in the United States, which it’s hoped will contribute to the fundraising effort. US-based philanthropies are also being targeted.
The international community in Haiti is warning that if the country doesn’t get the support it needs then its recovery, development and ability to withstand other natural disasters will all be negatively affected.
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School closures due to the pandemic led to 6 million children being part of Saudi Arabia’s journey to digital and distance education. Around 98% of students in the Kingdom, logged into the “Madrasati” (“My School”) platform, which is a local bespoke learning platform, according to a new World Bank report titled, “Saudi Arabia’s Digital and Distance Education”.
The report identifies the strengths of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in K–12 education and discusses the opportunities for educational improvement following the digital and distance education experience. The study was conducted on a nationally representative sample of almost 18,000 students, teachers, school principals, supervisors, and parents, with virtual classroom observations as the pandemic unfolded over the 2020-21 school year.
More than two-thirds of teachers believed that their students’ academic achievement and skills increased during the digital and distance education provided in Saudi Arabia in the 2020-21 school year, and there is high demand for more digital learning content.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented challenges to the development of human capital in Saudi Arabia, as it did in countries across the world,” said Issam Abousleiman, World Bank Regional Director for the GCC. “The story of Saudi Arabia’s journey to rapid and widespread digital and distance education is one that many countries are interested to learn from.”
Teachers reported increases in their students’ digital literacy, independent learning, time management, creativity, and problem solving. High satisfaction was expressed by teachers in the training and support they received during the transition to online learning.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenging time for all education systems,” said Keiko Miwa, Human Development Director. “Saudi Arabia’s experience illustrates the importance of supporting teachers to excel in their roles by providing them with useful tools, training, and guidance.”
Not all students thrived in digital and distance education. The experience was particularly difficult for the youngest learners and those without devices or having to share devices. The report also reveals some concerns over students’ feelings of isolation, boredom, laziness, lack of physical activity, eye strain, and absence of social interaction with peers. Around half of students felt that they would have learned more in the classroom, and most teachers, parents, and school principals wanted to see a return to in-person schooling, with continued use of Madrasati and the new digital resources.
All students in Saudi Arabia returned to in-person schooling during the 2021-22 school year. Blended learning models are being studied to better understand the future possibilities for education in the country.
To continue improving education following the experiences during the pandemic, the report recommends further efforts to identify and support students needing additional help, ensuring all students have the devices and connectivity they need for distance and blended learning, and to target teachers’ professional development to reduce variability and ensure all students have access to high-quality teaching.
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