Updates from the field #30: Country teams are committed to doing more, even faster
At a virtual meeting held this week, the UN Sustainable Development Group (UNSDG) evaluated the preliminary results and challenges of the response to COVID-19 worldwide, with a particular focus on the socioeconomic response. According to the development coordination COVID-19 Data Portal, UN country teams globally have supported governments to deliver nutrition programmes to almost 5 million people, with 7 million women receiving maternal health services, while ensuring the continuation of close to 6 million ongoing vaccinations.
Despite this tremendous response effort, the Group recognized more work is needed; thus, the UNSDG vowed to do more.
“For the first time, we all recognize this is a development emergency of global proportions. Governments, communities, and citizens have mobilized accordingly – and our UN teams too have stepped up, together, from the onset of the pandemic to address the health, humanitarian and socioeconomic needs. In many ways this is an expression of global solidarity and response to the most vulnerable. But much more needs to be done, even faster,” said Deputy Secretary-General and UNSDG Chair Amina J. Mohammed.
Amplified by the Secretary-General’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, and the need for accelerated effort, UN country teams are intensifying their support across the world. Today, we highlight some of these coordinated actions.
The UN team in Brazil, led by Resident Coordinator Niky Fabiancic, continues to support the authorities’ response to the pandemic.
In the Amazon, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) provided reproductive health support to 80,000 women, while the International Organization for Migration (IOM) contributed mobile clinics and hundreds of medical consultations and hygiene kits to indigenous communities, refugees and migrants.
UN Women has facilitated access to hearing test services for people with disabilities and UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) provided hand washing education and kits to hundreds of children.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is providing cash assistance and shelter to refugees and migrants while helping small business owners in refugee communities keep their businesses open.
The UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) produced information materials to support the authorities in efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 in prisons.
To recover better from the pandemic, the UN team and the civil society organizations are encouraging municipalities to use the Sustainable Development Goals as a framework ahead of the local elections. More information about the UN team's work is available on their website.
In India, where cases have surpassed 8 million with more than 123,000 deaths, according to UN figures, the country team, led by Resident Coordinator Renata Dessallien, is supporting authorities to save lives and livelihoods, and to protect rights.
UNFPA has helped more than one million vulnerable people receive health and social protection. It distributed sanitary kits to 20,000 households headed by women and has provided training on sexual and reproductive health. Also, staff at 450 one-stop centres were trained to prevent and address violence against women.
UNICEF for its part is working with women’s groups, village councils and Government departments to ensure social protection for marginalized groups in two Indian states. UNDP has reached 420,000 people with social protection schemes to restore livelihoods for women microentrepreneurs, farmers and artisans, as well as youth.
Through the Secretary-General’s “Recover Better Fund”, the World Food Programme (WFP) and its partners are also providing food to more than 20,000 vulnerable households, including transgender, female and male sex workers, as well as migrants and disabled people as well as those who are chronically ill. More about the response can be found on their website.
In Philippines, the UN team there, led by Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Gustavo Gonzalez, continues to support the Government’s response to COVID-19.
The UN team has mobilized nearly US $30 million to support national efforts and a further nearly US $140 million combined in loans and grants for two International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)-funded projects to address the impact of the pandemic on the agriculture and fisheries.
Gathering data is a key priority for us to better tailor the response to the pandemic, and UNDP is using artificial intelligence to process data to support health authorities. IOM is developing a data management system to track information on returning migrants to improve efficiency at ports of entry.
UNFPA is working with the Government on a mathematical model to assess the impact of COVID-19 on young girls, women and the elderly.
Republic of the Congo
The UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Chris Mburu, has partnered with authorities and civil society organizations to assess the socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic. These findings were crucial to develop the country’s response to the virus.
The UN team has also beefed up the health response, with the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, UNFPA supporting vaccinations for nearly 70,000 children, as well as sexual and reproductive health for nearly 80,000 women. They have also provided nutrition support for more than 4,000 children.
To address the challenges posed by the close of schools, UNICEF offered a distance education programme for nearly 240,000 students, while WFP ensured the continuation of food supplies for 83,000 children.
WFP and UNDP also helped 53,000 people, more than half of whom were women, with immediate cash and food supplies as a cushion to protect livelihoods from the economic impacts of the pandemic.