While commemorating the victims and vast damage caused by the Chernobyl, Ukraine nuclear disaster 20 years ago, a top United Nations development official has said that the region is embracing the right strategy for economic and social recovery.
“We are confident that Chernobyl has entered the right development path,” Ad Melkert, Under-Secretary-General and Associate Administrator for the UN Development Programme (UNDP) told a conference in Minsk, Belarus marking the anniversary of the 26 April 1986 explosion in the Chernobyl nuclear reactor that spread radiation over a wide swathe of land, mainly in Belarus, Ukraine, and the Russian Federation.
“It [that path] is already delivering practical solutions that, applied consistently, hold the prospect of restoring to millions the ‘normal life’ that Chernobyl so brutally curtailed 20 years ago,” he added.
He described the building blocks of the UN strategy on Chernobyl as community-driven development, information dissemination and policy advice.
UNDP is involved in projects in the three affected countries to assist communities in creating social and economic opportunities, he said. In Belarus specifically, the agency works through the Cooperation for Rehabilitation (CORE) programme to restore community infrastructure and boost local incomes through the creation of new jobs.
“Our efforts have the dual aim of helping to restore self-reliance and self-sufficiency among affected communities,” Melkert said. “The creation of youth centres and health posts, the expansion of a village school, new connections to gas lines and new entrepreneurship activities can and do contribute to regaining independence, initiative, and identity.”
All such projects must be achieved through the best use of limited resources, he added: “Although Belarus has received some $400 million in international aid for Chernobyl over the past five years, it is no secret that funding for Chernobyl has dwindled over time.”