Updates from the field #26: UN teams will never lose sight of each individual life
This week the world reached an agonizing milestone. One million lives have been lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In his statement, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, urged the world not to lose sight of each and every individual life. Mr. Guterres called for continued unity:
“As we remember so many lives lost, let us never forget that our future rests on solidarity—as people united and as united nations.”
UN teams on the ground live and breathe this message. In partnership with local and national authorities, partners and civil society, they continue to fight COVID-19 with the same continued ferocity and commitment. Today, we highlight some of their efforts across the globe.
In India, the UN team, led by the Resident Coordinator Renata Dessallien, continues to stand with the country as it battles the unprecedented challenge of more than 6.3 million cases of COVID-19.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has helped trace 10 million case contacts and supplied more than 1 million test kits. WHO and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have trained nearly 4 million frontline health workers. UNICEF has also reached 40 million children through education initiatives and 5 million women and children with essential healthcare.
For its part, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) distributed nearly a million pieces of safety equipment to eight health departments across the country. The agency also provided nearly half a million safety kits and 60 million kilos of food to 200,000 sanitation workers.
A World Food Programme (WFP) mobile app has helped link 8 million people to the public food distribution system. And to support businesses, the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) are providing support to medium and small businesses, while a new UNDP supported app captured skills and social protection information for 4.3 million returnees.
To aid women impacted by violence, UN Women has trained 100,000 volunteers and staff from support centres and helplines.
In Kenya, the pandemic is impacting lives and livelihoods against a backdrop of floods, locust invasion and drought. The UN team there, led by Resident Coordinator Siddharth Chatterjee, deployed US$45 million from its regular development framework, jointly agreed with the Government.
Together with national authorities, the UN launched a flash appeal to mobilize $270 million to complement efforts to address the pandemic —$60 million of which have been mobilized thus far. The UN has also deployed nearly 150 staff and volunteers to bolster the response of national and local authorities.
The UN has prepared a COVID-19 socio-economic response and recovery plan to address the health care system, social protection, employment opportunities and social cohesion. The recovery plan will be implemented in the next two years and will cost $155 million to focus on recovering better from the pandemic for the Sustainable Development Goals.
In Malawi, our UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Maria Jose Torres Macho, continues to work to save lives and livelihoods.
On the health front, the WFP provided storage for medical and personal protective equipment supplies. Meanwhile, UNDP is working with universities on a contact tracing mobile app to map outbreaks and hotspots.
The UN team is reaching more than 2 million people through communications campaigns and community engagement. UNDP has created more than 4,000 campaign products in braille and the UN has also produced a COVID-19 prevention song in local languages to reach a wider and younger audience.
For its part, the UNICEF helped spread prevention messages through community theatre and broadcast media, while working with traditional leaders to mobilize support for gender equality in rural communities.
Ahead of schools reopening, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) created a child-friendly booklet to prevent sexual and gender-based violence, while UN Women is providing bicycles and sanitary supplies to vulnerable women and girls, and is also supporting with scholarship opportunities.
For its part, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) supported the government in engaging with fishing communities, including women and young people.
In the Philippines, the UN team continues its efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The UN mobilized nearly US$30 million for some 150 virus rapid response activities being implemented throughout the country by 20 UN agencies funds and programmes. Sixty per cent of the activities are being implemented nationwide, while 20 per cent are focused on the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
WHO is helping to strengthen the national surveillance system for rapid detection of the virus, while UNICEF is assisting communities most heavily impacted by the pandemic.
For its part, WFP is providing logistical and technical support to improve food security, and FAO is providing seeds, fertilizers and other supplies to farmers and fisherfolk in Ifugao, Maguindanao, Cotabato and South Cotabato. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) extended more than $130 million in loans and grants for projects aiming to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the agriculture and fisheries sectors.
And the UN is also applying our technical and analytical expertise toward recovery efforts. Assessments by ILO, UN Women, UNDP, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and UNIDO stand out in this effort.
The UN team in Zimbabwe, led by Resident Coordinator Maria Ribeiro, is supporting the new national strategy to recover better from COVID-19 for the Sustainable Development Goals. This plan targets 5.6 million people in need of socioeconomic assistance.
The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and UNICEF are helping some 4.5 million students with remote learning and advising on how to open schools safely.
WHO and the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) this month helped more than 20,000 people in communities affected by last year’s Cyclone Idai. For its part, WFP reached more than 320,000 people across 22 districts in September—an 11% increase compared to last month..
In rural communities, UNDP is supporting 840,000 farmers with portable water, while the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) continues to provide free anti-retroviral therapy to more than 1 million people living with HIV.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has helped some 20,000 migrants return to Zimbabwe, while UNFPA provided information to 30,000 people and helped more than 3,000 gender-based violence survivors in September.