The coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is the defining global health crisis of our time and the greatest challenge we have faced since World War Two. Since its emergence in Asia late last year, the virus has spread to every continent except Antarctica. Cases are rising daily in Africa the Americas, and Europe.
The pandemic is moving like a wave—one that may yet crash on those least able to cope.
But COVID-19 is much more than a health crisis. By stressing every one of the countries it touches, it has the potential to create devastating social, economic and political crises that will leave deep scars.
We are in uncharted territory. Many of our communities are unrecognizable from even a week ago. Dozens of the world’s greatest cities are deserted as people stay indoors, either by choice or by government order. Across the world, shops, theatres, restaurants and bars are closing.
Every day, people are losing jobs and income, with no way of knowing when normality will return. Small island nations, heavily dependent on tourism, have empty hotels and deserted beaches. The International Labour Organization estimates that 25 million jobs could be lost.
UNDP Global Response
Every country needs to act immediately to prepare, respond, and recover. The UN system will support countries through each stage, with a focus on the most vulnerable.
Globally, UNDP has learned from disease outbreaks and past pandemics that enable us to develop effective responses focused on the most vulnerable groups that are driven by solidarity, science, and human rights.
Drawing upon our experience with other outbreaks such as Ebola, HIV, SARS, TB and malaria, as well as our long history of working with the private and public sector, UNDP will help countries to urgently and effectively respond to COVID-19 as part of its mission to eradicate poverty, reduce inequalities and build resilience to crises and shocks.
“We are already hard at work, together with our UN family and other partners, on three immediate priorities: supporting the health response including the procurement and supply of essential health products, under WHO’s leadership, strengthening crisis management and response, and addressing critical social and economic impacts.” UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner
Yemen has recently experienced its first positive laboratory-confirmed case of Coronavirus. To help avert a COVID-19 disaster, UNDP supports the UN Secretary-General and the UN Special Envoy who have both called for a ceasefire in Yemen to ensure proper attention is able to be given to COVID-19 prevention.
For COVID-19 in Yemen, UNDP is contributing to the UN response through preparedness, mitigation, and recovery by delivering within four pillars:
1. Strengthening the first line of defense
Strengthening health systems, supply chains, doctors and nurses at the front lines of defense is key. Protecting heroic health workers – including access to face masks and protective clothing – and strong partnerships with authorities will help ensure Yemenis have equal access and treatment to healthcare.
Led by the UN Resident Coordinator and the World Health Organization (WHO) – and in coordination with the authorities – UNDP will support procuring much needed supplies, rehabilitating critical infrastructure, and delivering critical equipment. To reach across frontlines, we will work to empower and strengthen local governance actors through financial and technical support while boosting civil society partnerships to ensure effective service delivery.
2. Flattening the curve
Learning from global experiences, this is most effective when allowing for social distancing, working from home, closing schools, and postponing large gatherings of people.
UNDP is already supporting containment strategy efforts of authorities and WHO to slow the virus’ spread by introducing additional measures within UNDP and our programming.
3. Protecting now and in the future
To enable a faster recovery, we must strengthen social protection by extending the coverage of existing programmes including food aid, direct cash transfers, cash-for-work, and public work schemes. Essential to this will be protecting prison populations, IDP settlements and other congested areas from COVID-19 spreading.
UNDP is working with authorities and implementing partners to scale up existing programming in these areas throughout Yemen.
4. Stimulating the economy
Yemen is already suffering from a collapse of economic infrastructure, unpaid salaries, and a lack of jobs.
UNDP will rely upon our World Bank, European Union, and other partnerships to expand existing and to develop new programmes as we remain committed to creating jobs through our projects, increasing support to Small and Medium Enterprises, supporting local value-chains like farming, and strengthening public-private partnerships.