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.
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.
Drawing on 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
UNDP Malawi is working with the Public Affairs Committee, a national religious grouping promoting democracy, development, peace and unity in the country, to disseminate COVID-19 messaging that address religious and faith myths in the prevention, management and containment of the pandemic.
UNDP Malawi has also supported the Centre for Multiparty Democracy, a grouping of all political parties that have representation in the Malawi Parliament to ensure that political leaders also play their role in the fight against COVID-19 in the country. With support from UNDP, the institution developed and disseminated key messages to media houses for the awareness on COVID-19.
UNDP also supported the Malawi Parliamentarians in disseminating COVID-19 key messages.
Support to accessing justice during the Covid-19 pandemic
Due to numerous obstacles in accessing formal justice, there is congestion in the Malawian prisons, which makes them hotspot for the spread of covid-19. In partnership with UNDP and the European Union (EU), the Paralegal Advisory Service Institute (PASI) has been scaling up camp courts as one way of reducing overcrowding in prisons in Malawi
Camp courts provide legal assistance to those who have overstayed in custody, people with chronic diseases, older persons, women in detention with their children, and those who would not otherwise have had access to the justice system.
Embracing technology advancement to fight COVID-19
In taking advantage of the technology advancement and the proliferation of mobile phones across Africa; UNDP, UNICEF and the Government of Malawi through the Department of Disaster Management Affairs are developing creative communication tools to enable behavioural change and preventative actions to safeguard against Covid-19 among the Malawian population.
The initiative includes the production of Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), Web-based Covid-19 facts quiz designed for smartphones, Covid-19 awareness song with a renowned local musician. The products also include Social Media Covid-19 content pack with animated posters and visual blogs aimed at Covid-19 awareness raising.
In the longer term, UNDP will look at innovative ways to support Malawi to better prevent and manage such crises and ensure that lessons learned from this crisis are documented and used for a better future.