Around the world: Daily updates from UN country teams - February 2023
Our UN teams are on the ground in 162 countries and territories, coordinating joint programmes and tackling a range of multi-faceted priorities and key initiatives on a daily basis — from climate action and food security to gender equality and safety of civilians. UN Resident Coordinators and their teams utilize innovative approaches to problem-solving to better serve communities. Below are some highlights of their work this month.
Wednesday, 22 February
Myanmar: Improving vulnerable people's incomes and access to basic services
Our UN team in Myanmar tells us that according to a new UN Development Programme (UNDP) report, a quarter of people living in the poorest areas of the capital, Yangon, have not had any income in the last 12 months. More than a third of respondents also said they were also eating less. With a weakened public healthcare system and expensive private alternatives, over one quarter of the 3,000 survey respondents said their families are going without medical treatment or medication. Concerned, and in response to increased hardships in urban Yangon, our team on the ground just launched a new initiative with UNDP, UN Women and UN-Habitat to improve vulnerable people's incomes and access to basic services in the eight most affected townships. We are boosting vocational training for young people, bolstering micro and small enterprises, and improving access to healthcare and clean drinking water. In the last 12 months 400 students have received training in areas such as hospitality, healthcare and office work, and all who graduated have now secured full-time employment. More than 25,000 people now have access to affordable clean water, thanks to our UN team’s work in 2022. This year, our colleagues aim to reach 450,000 people. This adds on to the one million people across Myanmar who have received UN-backed support since 2021.
Tuesday, 21 February
South Africa: Severe flooding and declaration of a national state of disaster
In South Africa, the UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Nelson Muffuh, is supporting the Government's response to severe flooding that has led to the declaration of a national state of disaster. Following a joint assessment mission last week, UN agencies, led by the UNICEF along with government departments and NGOs, stepped up its response and are providing food and shelter to the affected population, and facilitating uninterrupted access to services including through mobile clinics. These services are being offered to all 1,200+ people affected by the floods.
The floods have had a particularly devastating impact on communities living in informal settlements, many of whom lived in houses on riverbanks, underscoring the importance of addressing climate risk management and safe housing compliance.
Thursday, 16 February
Malawi: National campaign to fight worst cholera outbreak on record
We have an update from our UN team in Malawi, led by Resident Coordinator Rebecca Adda-Dontoh, as they just launched this week with authorities the national campaign to fight their worst cholera outbreak on record, with over 1,400 deaths and 43,000 cases to date. Our team is mobilising all the UN’s capacities to support local authorities in tackling cholera. In the past four months the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has delivered over 150 cholera beds, 14 tents for cholera treatment, 15 drums of chlorine, and other essential supplies to health authorities. For its part, the World Food Programme (WFP) provided 12 mobile storage units for cholera treatment, is distributing chlorine and rehabilitating water points, while increasing safety in nearly 500 schools for over 600,000 students, providing soap, handwashing stations, and cholera information. Ms Adda-Dontoh said that the national campaign is critical to reach all affected communities and arm them with information and immediate rapid rehydration methods to boost recovery.
Tuesday, 14 February
Bangladesh: Lack of funding for food for the Rohingya response
We join our UN team in Bangladesh in their concerns over the lack of funding for food for the Rohingya response and the longer-term impacts on a group already facing dire needs. According to our World Food Programme (WFP) colleagues, six years into the Rohingya refugee crisis, a dire funding shortfall is forcing WFP to cut back its lifesaving food assistance for the first time, and more cuts may be further needed unless there is immediate international support. This first envisioned ration cut from US$12 to US$10 per person per month will have “immense and long-lasting” effects on food security and nutrition, which are already at concerning levels. Many families have already experienced serious levels of acute malnutrition in recent years, despite our colleagues’ best efforts on the ground. WFP is urgently appealing for US$125 million to avoid any ration cuts, or at a minimum, US$80 million, to limit the ration cuts to one in 2023. Without sufficient fresh funding by April this year, additional rounds of ration cuts may entail a reduction of US$4, or more. Each cut would be devastating, as refugees remain nearly fully dependent on this assistance to get by.
Friday, 10 February
Zambia: Responding to the recent cholera outbreak and ongoing severe floods
In Zambia, our team, led by Resident Coordinator Beatrice Mutali is supporting authorities’ response to the recent cholera outbreak along with ongoing severe floods that have displaced over 170,000 people in 22 districts, challenging access to basic services, like schools and hospitals. This has also impacted agriculture and livestock and destroyed critical infrastructure such as roads, bridges, schools, clinics and houses. Our team is providing technical support to authorities while mobilizing funding to bridge a gap of US$ 32 million for risk communication, water and sanitation, food and non-food items, among other needs. We are also tackling a cholera outbreak in three districts, where 90 cases and three deaths have been recorded. Since December, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has provided 4.5 tonnes of granular chlorine, 20,000 bottles of liquid chlorine for household water treatment, 250 containers of disinfectant, and other critical supplies. For their part, the World Health Organization (WHO) is working with authorities to strengthen assessment capacities along with surveillance, contact tracing, and lab preparations for cholera vaccination. We are also prioritizing infection prevention and control, data management, as well as risk communication and community engagement through radio and television, reaching over two million people in 22 at-risk districts.
Thursday, 9 February
Chile: Addressing the deadly wildfire emergency
An update from Chile, where, our UN team on the ground is responding to the Government’s request for international support to address the country’s deadliest wildfire emergency, toppled by record heatwaves. In addition to immediately making available the capacities of its 19 entities working in the country, we are also bringing in additional UN support and resources from the regional and global levels to address lifesaving needs and to kick start immediate recovery. Our support includes, among others, coordination among several partners tackling the impacts of the wildfire, needs assessments, alignment with international response standards, also drawing from lessons in other responses. We are supporting with information management and are mobilizing funding to address the needs of the people who live and work in the most affected zones. The wildfires in Chile have already devastated 270,000 hectares (667,000 acres) of land, killing 26 people in south-central Chile.
Wednesday, 8 February
Iran: Post-earthquake relief and humanitarian assistance
In Iran, the UN Team has responded rapidly to a request from the national authorities for post-earthquake relief and humanitarian assistance in Khoy. Acting as one, our team led by Resident Coordinator Stefan Priesner mounted a joint assessment mission (consisting of UN OCHA, UNDP, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNESCO, UNFPA, WFP, WHO, and IOM) to the areas near the epicenter in western Azerbaijan province of Iran on 6 February. With the health of an estimated 150,000 people including 10,000 women and girls at risk as a result of the quake, 70,000 children losing their schools and at least 130,000 deprived of their homes, local authorities sought UN support in emergency relief and humanitarian assistance. In helping the communities recover from the disaster, the UN will focus on the most vulnerable groups including the elderly, adolescent girls and children with disabilities. A One-UN Impact Fund has been launched to channel international assistance for the priority needs of the population in Iran.
Tuesday, 7 February
Chad: Treatment of obstetric fistula
We have an update on obstetric fistula from our UN team in Chad, led by Resident Coordinator Violette Kakyomya, as we marked the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation just yesterday (6 February). This is crucial work since the prevalence in Chad is estimated to be between 500 and 1,000 cases per year, with contributing factors including gender-based violence, child marriage, childbirth among underage girls, and female genital mutilation. Our colleagues on the ground, with authorities and partners, have built a new specialized surgical section in a hospital in Abeche, in the East. In 2022, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) helped treat nearly 360 fistula cases, in several parts of the country, also training of surgeons and midwives. For its part, the World Food Programme (WFP) provided food assistance to the patient, while the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) supported psychosocial services and helped reduce stigma within communities. For their part, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) are supporting the socio-economic reintegration of fistula survivors, as they are often excluded from their communities. Treatment of obstetric fistula is now being carried out across Chad, with a recovery rate of 85 percent, and with an average of 350 to 400 successful surgeries per year.
Monday, 6 February
Caribbean: Regional Launch of the Early Warnings for All initiative
Today in Barbados, the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction spearheaded the first Regional Launch of the Early Warnings for All initiative for the Caribbean. This follows up on the UN Global Early Warning Initiative for the Implementation of Climate Adaptation, unveiled by Secretary-General António Guterres during COP27 last year, calling for global coverage by 2027. It calls for investment across disaster risk knowledge, observations and forecasting, preparedness and response, and communication of early warnings. In a recorded message, Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed said that every person in the Caribbean and in all Small Island Developing States and, in the world, must be protected by an effective early warning system, which is not a privilege but a right. This is urgently needed, she added, since every third person in the world, primarily in Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries, is currently not covered, and countries with limited early warning coverage have a disaster mortality rate 8 times higher than countries with an increased range.
Over the weekend our UN team in Chile, led by Resident Coordinator Maria Jose Torres Macho, expressed its sincere condolences to the families of those who died in the wildfires, including members of the national forest corporation, as well as firefighters. Our UN team stands in solidarity with all people and the Government in Chile and thanks for the support and solidarity received by the international community so far.
Turkiye and Syria (complementing the Secretary-General's statement on the earthquake)
In a statement, our UN team on the ground, led by Resident Coordinator Alvaro Rodriguez, said they are deeply saddened by the loss of lives and destruction of property caused by the earthquake that rocked Turkiye today. Our team extends its condolences to the families of the victims, the people, and the Government of Turkiye, wishing those injured a speedy recovery. We also stand ready to assist.
And in Syria, our UN Team also expressed its deepest condolences and solidarity to all people affected by the earthquake and is working to coordinate assistance in all our areas of reach within the affected Governorates of Aleppo, Hama, Idleb and Latakia.
Interested in more? Check out previous daily updates from UN teams 'around the world':