The Sustainable Development Goals in Bahrain
The Sustainable Development Goals are a global call to action to end poverty, protect the earth’s environment and climate, and ensure that people everywhere can enjoy peace and prosperity. With 21 United Nations Entities represented in the Kingdom of Bahrain, the work of the United Nations encompasses all 17 SDGs.
14 April 2022
2021 Country Results Report
In 2021, the United Nations in Bahrain continued to work in a challenging environment brought upon the country, the region, and the whole world by the COVID-19 pandemic. "The pandemic continued to test our resilience and resolve, which, nevertheless, proved to be sound in the face of an unprecedented crisis. Although some of our activities had to be postponed and others had to be redesigned, we managed to move forward with the implementation of most of our projects and initiatives and develop new ones for the future, achieving significant results in the process", said Mohamed El Zarkani, Resident Coordinator in Bahrain a.i. The year was also especially important for the United Nations in Bahrain because it marked the signing of the Strategic and Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework 2021-2022 with the Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain. The document – the first of its kind in the Gulf region – is the single most important instrument for planning and implementation of the United Nations development activities at the country level. In 2022, the United Nations in Bahrain will build on previous success by continuing with the implementation of the Cooperation Framework in close partnership with the Government of Bahrain, placing a strong emphasis on leaving no one behind in the development process.
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27 April 2022
Secretary-General appoints Mr Khaled El Mekwad of Egypt as United Nations Resident Coordinator in Bahrain
Manama, 27 April 2022 - On April 16, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres appointed Khaled El Mekwad of Egypt as the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Bahrain, with the approval of the host government. Mr Khaled El Mekwad has dedicated over 30 years to public service. Prior to this appointment, he served as United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Regional Representative for Southern Africa, covering ten SADC countries. As UNIDO Representative, he was also assigned to Sudan with coverage of Djibouti and Yemen, and Lebanon with coverage of Jordan and Syria. During his 14 years in the UN system, he worked on industrial and socio-economic development, environment, poverty reduction, human rights, and post-war recovery in the Middle East and Africa. Prior to joining the United Nations, he had a 19-year diplomatic career. He served as Alternate Representative at the Permanent Mission of Egypt to the United Nations in Vienna, Deputy Head of Mission at the Egyptian Embassy in Dakar, and Political Officer at the Egyptian Mission to the European Union in Brussels. During this period, he was involved in bilateral and multilateral affairs, international and regional organizations, and economic and social development in Africa and the Arab regions, with emphasis on South-South and triangular cooperation. In addition, he was a member of the national team in charge of negotiating the Euro-Med Partnership Agreement between Egypt and the European Union, where he was responsible for the chapters on Economic Development and Human Rights. Mr Khaled El Mekwad holds two post-graduate degrees in international relations from the École Nationale d'Administration in Paris and the Institute of Diplomatic Studies at the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Cairo. He holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree from Cairo University. He is fluent in Arabic, English, and French.
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22 June 2022
King Hamad Youth Empowerment Award to achieve the SDGs: A window of hope for dynamic entrepreneurs in Africa
Esther Ajari, a 23-year-old woman from Nigeria in her last year of medical studies, sees herself as an unconventional medical researcher who believes life should not revolve only around medical degrees. "I grew up as the 10th child of a polygamous family of 16 in Oghara, a small community in Delta State in the south-south of the country", she said. "My parents could not afford to buy me menstrual sanitary products. I often had to wear old cloths", she confided. Menstruation can have an effect on adolescent girls dropping out of school. According to UNICEF, 23 per cent of schoolgirls in Nigeria had missed school in the past 12 months because of their period. Today, Esther is invested in combating poverty worldwide and changing the narrative about health, gender equality, and education in Africa. At The TriHealthon, an NGO she founded in 2018, Ajari has overseen, among other projects, a programme that has trained more than 2,500 Nigerian girls and young women to make their own reusable biodegradable menstrual sanitary pads. According to UNFPA, difficulty affording menstrual products can cause girls to stay home from school and work, with lasting consequences on their education and economic opportunities. It can also exacerbate existing vulnerabilities, pushing women and girls closer toward dangerous coping mechanisms. The TriHealthon has also empowered about 2000 nursing mothers and pregnant women in Nigeria on good child feeding and nursing practices, including breastfeeding techniques. In December 2020, Esther Ajari received the King Hamad Youth Empowerment Award to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (KHA). Launched at the Youth Forum of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in 2017, the prize is jointly implemented in collaboration between Bahrain's Ministry of Youth and Sports Affairs and the United Nations Development Programme. The award recognizes young people’s endeavour to be effective and productive citizens, contributing to the welfare of their communities and environment, as well as institutions that improve the enabling environment and infrastructure for youth to make an impact. As of the 2018 Award Cycle, the King Hamad Award for Youth Empowerment to achieve the SDGs (KHA) includes two main categories; one for youth action, granting 5 Awards, and a second for youth enablers granting 3 Awards. The award has been on the rise ever since, with the number of countries participating increasing from 87 in the 1st edition to 125 in the 3rd edition, while the number of applicants increased from 663 to 4,064. "Winning the award has enabled us to double our impact figures and establish more partnerships. The award has increased national and global recognition of what we have to offer", she said. Sustainable cooking stoves Okey Esse is a self-taught serial social entrepreneur from Nigeria. "I build unrefined ideas from strategies to sustainability", he said. "I inherited and developed a social entrepreneurship spirit from my mother, who also was a successful entrepreneur." In 2018, Okey founded Powerstove Energy, a company that designs, manufactures, and distributes affordable, clean cooking stoves that self-generate electricity. "So many families in Africa still rely on charcoal, firewood and kerosene for their daily cooking needs, but with increasing prices because of urbanization and deforestation, they struggle to afford these cooking means." "We like to think that our products improve the users' livelihoods by combating poverty and indoor air pollution as well as gender-based violence." Okey also supports NGOs that focus on nutrition and food security, gender equality, HIV/AIDS advocacy, and accessible primary healthcare services. "The award helped increase our brand and, most importantly, helped us to acquire a brand-new factory with 25,000 units' monthly capacity. This funding opportunity by King Hamad Award has also opened more doors of funding from internationally recognized NGOs and governments, further deepening our product acceptability in target communities." Dreaming of a sustainable, green Africa Franc Kamugyisha, 27 years, is a multi-passionate social entrepreneur from Uganda. He is the founder & CEO of a climate-tech materials company in Uganda that provides a solution to waste management and affordable housing through incentive-based plastic recycling. "I dream of a sustainable, green Africa, freed from poverty, unemployment and indecent housing", he said. The idea of the company was inspired by Franc's personal experience living in a slum community in Kampala when he first arrived in the city in search of a job. There he witnessed dire consequences of poor waste disposal with post-consumer waste plastic littering everywhere on streets, clogging sewers, and even encroaching on poorly built houses during heavy rains. "With neighbours, I would wait late in the night or very early in the morning to go and dump waste in the nearby drainage channels in the neighbourhood to avoid high costs paid to private companies", he said. According to UN-Habitat, nearly 1 billion people – one in four urban dwellers – live in urban slums and informal settlements. Municipalities in low-income countries spend about 20 per cent of their budgets on waste management on average, yet over 90 per cent of waste in those countries is still openly dumped or burned. Cost-effective means of adapting landfill sites to reduce emissions and improve safety are increasingly applied in Africa. “The King Hamad Award funding has enabled new partnerships, including a micro-financing scheme for 510 waste collectors which has increased plastic waste collected from seven to 30 metric tons per month”, Franc said. “Thanks to the growth fueled by the award, we have increased long-term, stable employment instead of casual wage positions for informal waste pickers, and increased access to healthcare insurance.”
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16 February 2022
Bahraini women in science have an essential role to play
"Women who want to work in science must show resilience not to give up despite the obstacles", said Dr Hanan Mubarak Al-Bufalasah, Head of Physics Department at the University of Bahrain (UOB). With a master's degree and a PhD in Renewable Energy, she established renewable energy laboratories and a Higher Diploma Program in Meteorology at the University of Bahrain. She has contributed to several local and international publications, including Bahrain's Human Development Report. According to Dr Al-Bufalasah, males continue to dominate scientific careers despite an increasing number of brilliant female Bahraini students in science. "Like in many parts of the world, societal barriers due to stereotypes or traditions continue to prevent women in Bahrain from pursuing a scientific career", she said. Through its efforts to advance women, Bahrain has proven that it is a leader in the region on gender issues. However, there are still opportunities to improve women's representation in technical fields related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. "I have seen many female high-academic achievers, who have given up on their promising scientific career and instead chose to go with less demanded jobs because they had to put their families first," she said. "Other female scientists have abandoned their careers because they couldn't achieve a work-life balance". This reality has been used to argue for not hiring females in science-based jobs. "It happened to me personally when I was refused a position because, allegedly, I would not be able to work during night shifts," said Dr Al-Bufalasah. The University of Bahrain is constantly working to improve women's representation. In one of its PhD programmes in Environment and Sustainable Development, 30 out of 41 students are females. The programme put together in partnership with the United Nations University (UNV), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) encompasses the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with emphasis on the environmental goals. Science and gender equality are indeed both essential for sustainable development. Yet women and girls continue to be excluded from participating fully in science. According to UN Women, only 33 per cent of researchers globally are women, and they are awarded less research funding than men and are less likely to be promoted. Women are also less present in private sector company leadership and technical roles in tech industries. Women account for just 22 per cent of professionals working in artificial intelligence and 28 per cent of engineering graduates. "The major challenges the world faces today, from COVID-19 to climate change, need our brightest scientific minds to solve them. However, only one in three scientists is a woman. This glaring disparity does not just hamstring our ability to find solutions to our common challenges; it keeps us from building the societies we need. And the disparity is systemic," said Sima Bahous, Executive Director of UN Women and Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, in a joint statement issued on 11 February, on the occasion of the International Day for Women and Girls in Science. "I hope to see more women getting into modeling, IT coding, programming, and Artificial Intelligence", said Dr Sabah Saleh Al-Jenid, Associate Professor of geoinformatics at College of graduate studies, Arabian Gulf University. Dr Sabah Saleh Al-Jenid holds a master's degree in Geographic Information Systems, a master's degree in Desert Resources and Hydrology, and a PhD in Environmental Studies. She has published research papers on the effects of climate change on the coastal areas of Bahrain. ''Women and girls must pursue their scientific aspirations. But they need to be goal-focused and exceptional hard-workers to succeed. It is precisely what I have done personally.' As a member of the Supreme Council for Women of Bahrain, she leads a research team to study future jobs and gender balance. She also works closely with different United Nations organizations as a climate change expert. This year, the theme for International Women's Day is "Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow", recognizing the contribution of women and girls around the world, who are leading the charge on climate change adaptation, mitigation, and response, building a more sustainable future for all. "As a climate scientist interested in environmental crises, I believe that Bahrain has yet to address several challenges such as road networking and renewable energy infrastructure. We, Bahraini women in science, have an essential role to play. "
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31 March 2022
How digitalisation has helped Bahrain ensure the continuity of its Higher Education during COVID-19
As in many countries, the COVID-19 pandemic in Bahrain has highlighted the critical role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the continued functioning of society. Reem Al Attar is an architecture student at the University of Bahrain (UOB). "The pandemic disrupted our lives, including our studies", she stated. To ensure the continuity of its services, UOB promptly managed to provide online courses. Online technical assistance was also available to help students adjust to the new situation. "Being connected to the internet has been vital, and without the proper IT tools we wouldn't have survived the last two years". Covid-19 as an Accelerator of Digitalisation "At first, it was a challenge. We had to find a solution for students who could not afford a personal computer or purchase internet services," said Dr Zahra Haram, Professor of Law at Ahliya University in Bahrain. Dr Haram believes that COVID-19 eventually became an accelerator for digitalising education, among other sectors. "This pace in adopting online education wouldn't have been achieved without the serious challenge the pandemic imposed on us." "The crisis also brought discussions among academics, experts, and citizens about the concept of citizens' rights to various digital services, particularly access to reliable information in an effective, timely, and secure manner. We truly tested what we could and couldn't do, and now it is time for Bahrain to invest even more in its digital infrastructure." In fact, Bahrain, which recognises that digital government transformation is key to the emergence of a knowledge-based economy and the modernisation of the public sector, recently announced its 2022-2026 strategy for the ICT sector. "The new strategy will strengthen the Kingdom's economic position," said Adel Darwish, Director for the Arab Region at The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) - the United Nations specialised agency for ICTs. Forsati for Her Ahmed Al Hujairi is a Chief Executive Officer of ICT firms in Bahrain. "Bahrain's efforts prior to COVID-19 in digitising its services were an investment that paid off during the pandemic", he said. According to Al Hujairi, integrating the ICT into education and adopting skills-based education could not be achieved on time without proper pre-existing infrastructures, such as reliable connectivity and an existing portal. "Empowering young people to thrive in the digital economy has also been instrumental", stated Al Hujairi. As part of this effort, the University of Bahrain launched Forsati for Her in 2018, a programme to train female students from different majors and subject areas to become skilled programmers. Supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the university programme aims to capacitate female students to enter the Bahraini job market through its emerging digital window and growing technology startup scene. "There is an increasing number of skilled Bahraini ICT graduates, including females", said Al Hujairi, whose businesses employ close to 60 full-timers and 200 part-timers – males and females. Farkhanda A. Hamid, a Bahraini Alumna of the programme, is one of those. She has worked in the IT sector for the past three years. "Forsati for Her has given me an edge to get a job", said Hamid, who has ambitions to become an entrepreneur and start her own IT company, one day.
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22 March 2021
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