Potential Impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic on SDG Attainment

Potential Impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic on SDG Attainment

October 3, 2020

Afghanistan has been hit by COVID-19 pandemic while the country is going through a critical juncture in the peace process. While most of the funding needs for emergency health responses were largely covered by the donor countries, the economy was hit very hard. Social and humanitarian emergencies were amplified by the combined effect of conflict and natural disasters, rising levels of extreme poverty and unemployment. Demographic pressures, returnees, and internal displacement of population are adding to the complexity of issues. Inevitably these have negative impacts on the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Afghanistan.

This third note which builds on the first and second notes, assesses the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on the Afghan economy and its impact on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Using evidence from the recently developed regional Computable General Equilibrium (A-GTAP CGE) model, this note aims to provide the Government of Afghanistan and its development partners with informed policy options to address immediate impact of the pandemic on SDGs and potential funding options to attain the goals.

Coronavirus crisis has proved, once again, that sustainability is tightly linked to society’s well-being as well as global approach to address the gaps towards achieving SDGs. The main cause of transmission of COVID-19 to humans has been recognized by many as illegal, unregulated, and high-risk wildlife markets. Health links to SDG-15 (Life on Land) would require global action in reversing land degradation and habitat destruction, and taking action to address the demand for and supply of illegal wildlife products (SDG-15.7).

In Afghanistan, health links to environmental pollution (SDG-3.9) are particularly important. High levels of air pollution in many Afghan cities were an important factor in the spread of COVID-19 by increasing the citizens’ pre-existing vulnerabilities to respiratory diseases. Access to clean water (SDG-6) is a pre-requisite for being able to handwash frequently; living in substandard, unsanitary and overcrowded conditions such as IDP camps and slums (SDG- 11) increased the risk of exposure to the virus; and pre-existing health conditions such as non-communicable diseases (SDG-3) tend to worsen disease outcomes.

UNDP’s socio-economic recovery offer to address the impact of COVID-19 aims to enable national and sub-national authorities to address the crisis in the short-run and help reverse its negative effects on the realization of the A-SDGs in the medium and long-run. UNDP is re-orientating its programme portfolio towards supporting the Government’s strategic agenda and help align the National Priority Programmes with A-SDGs.