Updates from the field #9: Tackling the immediate needs

Close up of hand-washing station set up in in Muona, Nsanje District (Southern Malawi).
Photo: WFP/Badre Bahaji

UN teams across the globe are working together with governments and partners to address the immediate needs of their country. Below, are some of the coordinated responses to COVID-19 worldwide as of 8 May 2020: 

Barbados and Eastern Caribbean countries 

The UN team covering Barbados and countries in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States will launched a $29.7 million appeal to combat the staggering impacts of the virus in ten countries and territories.  
These are fragile economies, which are highly dependent on tourism and extremely vulnerable to climate change. They are also bracing for another hurricane season.  
The new plan focuses on boosting the economies, creating jobs, strengthening health systems and improving distance education.  
This includes access to equipment, connectivity for vulnerable children and child social protection. It will also endeavour to prevent and support victims of gender-based violence, with regional social protection schemes, like cash transfers, to buffer the impacts of the virus.  
The Resident Coordinator, Didier Trebucq, said that it cannot be business as usual in the Caribbean Small Island Developing States. He said that the pandemic is an unprecedented human crisis challenging social and economic development.  
The Caribbean has never before needed the level of assistance that it requires today, he added. Mr. Trebucq hosted an online launchwith Fekita-moeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu, the High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.  
They were joined by the Prime Ministers of Antigua and Barbuda, as well as the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, along with the acting Prime Minister of Barbados. 


We move now to our response Brazil, which currently has more than 96,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and nearly 7,000 reported deaths. That is presently the second highest infection rate in the Americas after the United States. The UN team is working closely with national and local authorities to flatten the curve and lift the economy, focusing on the most vulnerable groups in the two poorest regions.  
Under the leadership of the Resident Coordinator, Niky Fabiancic, and the Representative of the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), the team is working to strengthen the health system.  
In the northern region, which hosts migrants and refugees from Venezuela, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has donated equipment to the local health system; while the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is helping refugees and migrants apply for the Government’s emergency cash assistance. UNICEF and UN Women are supporting prevention efforts in shelters, and the UN team is sharing information in multiple languages to help combat xenophobia and protect migrants as well as refugees.  
The UN team is working with national and local authorities to curb the spread of the virus among indigenous peoples. This is especially true in the Amazon and other regions. According to official figures, currently there are 139 confirmed cases and eight deaths among indigenous peoples.  

In the Amazon region, the UN and partners are helping local authorities protect indigenous peoples. In two major cities in the northeastern region, UN-Habitat is boosting prevention efforts in informal settlements while providing basic services to help people stay at home during the pandemic.  

PAHO is supporting the national plan to curb the spread of the virus, including boosting surveillance of severe respiratory and flu syndromes, training health teams, and conducting outreach in several languages. Working with the Ministry of Health, PAHO is monitoring cases of the virus among indigenous peoples and supporting the flu vaccination campaign.   

Tsitsina Xavante is part of the Voice of Indigenous Women initiative.

Caption: Photo: UN / Tiago Zenero

Photo: UN / Tiago Zenero

UN-Women is monitoring the impact of the pandemic on indigenous women. It is working for their inclusion in the decision-making process related to the pandemic, as well as ensuring adequate health care. It is focusing on pregnant women and prevention of gender-based violence.   

To prevent the spread of the virus in prisons across the country, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and other UN entities are working directly with state courts.  
And for its part, the International Labour Organization (ILO) is working to protect jobs and address the needs of informal workers.  
UNICEF has also helped to launch a website to support teachers and families’ homeschooling efforts. 


In Cameroon, where there are more than 2,000 confirmed cases, the Resident Coordinator, Allegra Baiocchi and the UN team have been supporting the Government, even before the first case showed up in Cameroon.  
On immediate health needs, 14 UN entities have developed a prevention and response plan to support national initiatives, with a funding gap of US$15.5 million.  
The UN helped recruit health workers; provided vehicles for contact tracing; assisted in sourcing tests and procured medical supplies and personal protective equipment.  
The UN Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank and the Global Fund, are helping to purchase medical equipment, including ventilators.  
UN Women is working with religious leaders, women and youth organizations, while UNICEF and local authorities are installing hand washing stations and providing face masks to vulnerable groups. 

On the humanitarian response, the UN added $100 million to its ongoing operations to support the COVID-19 response, which includes training for community health workers in refugee camps. The UN is also working with the Government in analysing the impact of the crisis on the local economy, creating a joint basket of funds to boost livelihoods and lift vulnerable communities. 


In Ecuador, the UN and our partners have launched a US$46.4 million plan to support the Government in responding to the virus. Currently, nearly 32,000 cases have been confirmed, with more than 1,500 deaths.  
The UN team is focusing on the most vulnerable people and is providing support in areas including water, food, education, shelter, the prevention of violence against women, and supporting authorities to curb the spread of the virus among indigenous communities.  

The team has purchased chlorine for water treatment and disinfection of health facilities and the UN is supporting a radio campaign in both Spanish and Kichwa to reach indigenous communities. 
Working with partners the UN has now supplied nearly 80,000 items – such as surgical masks, gloves and hand sanitizer – for front-line health workers. Epidemiology and emergency specialists, among other personnel, are providing technical assistance. Health supplies are provided by PAHO and UNICEF. 

Supplies delivery provided by UNICEF and partners.

Photo: UNICEF Ecuador

The World Food Programme (WFP), UNHCR, IOM and other partners are also providing food vouchers to displaced people.  
In the capital, Quito, and in the hard-hit city of Guayaquil, the UN is helping to distribute thousands of food kits to those most in need. 


In Ghana, the UN Resident Coordinator a.i., Sylvia Lopez-Ekra and the UN country team have re-programmed existing resources to support the government’s response to the pandemic and its health, humanitarian and social economic impacts.  
The World Health Organization (WHO) donated laboratory supplies and testing equipment. It also deployed a technical expert from its Africa Regional Office to support with coordination and assistance to the health ministry and emergency operation centre.  
UNDP is working with the Government of Ghana to measure the impacts of the virus on the economy and prepare a plan, with the UN team, to boost livelihoods.  
The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) helped establish a 24/7 hotline to respond to gender-based violence and WFP is supporting the government in monitoring food prices.  
For its part, UNICEF is working with partners to open testing laboratories at the sub-national level, while working with the Government to advance payments for 322,000 households. 


In Malawi, the UN country team launched a nearly $140 million appeal to support the immediate health, humanitarian and socioeconomic response to COVID-19 in support of the country’s Government.  
The Resident Coordinator, Maria Jose Torres said the new appeal will focus on local-level action to protect those most in need, while also boosting urgent health measures to curb the spread of the pandemic. Malawi has 41 confirmed cases of COVID-19. The pandemic is deeply impacting the country’s fragile economy.  
The UN seeks to help more than 7 million people, including 2.5 million children who are out of school.  Half of them are girls. The UN is also helping the Government with its distance learning options by providing food, water and sanitation, as well as planning for the safe reopening of schools.  

A woman washes her hands at the hand-washing stations in Muona, Nsanje District (Southern Malawi).

Photo: WFP/Badre Bahaji

The UN is also targeting 4.8 million people with food and livelihood assistance, which includes supporting the Government’s universal registration system to distribute cash transfers. Four million [people] will receive health assistance, with the UN training health workers, providing personal protection equipment and strengthening the surveillance capacity. 




UN entities involved in this initiative
International Labor Organization
International Organization for Migration
UN Women
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
United Nations Human Settlements Programme
United Nations Development Programme
United Nations Population Fund
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
United Nations Children’s Fund
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
World Food Programme
World Health Organization
Other entities involved in this initiative
World Bank
World Bank

Goals we are supporting through this initiative