COVID-19 Pandemic Response
Humanity needs leadership and
solidarity to defeat the coronavirus
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.
Countries are racing to slow the spread of the disease by testing and treating patients, carrying out contact tracing, limiting travel, quarantining citizens, and cancelling large gatherings such as sporting events, concerts, and schools.
The pandemic is moving like a wave—one that may yet crash on those least able to cope.
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 195 million jobs could be lost.
Every country needs to act immediately to prepare, respond, and recover. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has launched a US$2 billion global humanitarian response plan in the most vulnerable. Developing countries could lose at least US$220 billion in income, and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development has called for US$2.5 trillion to support them.
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.
The next phase of UNDP’s COVID-19 crisis response is designed to help decision-makers look beyond recovery, towards 2030, making choices and managing complexity and uncertainty in four main areas: governance, social protection, green economy, and digital disruption. It encompasses our role in technically leading the UN’s socio-economic response.
Click here to read more about UNDP's response.
“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 Albania response
UNDP has come to Albania’s aid in combating the novel Coronavirus since patient 0 was officially diagnosed on Monday, March 9.
As the government imposed a mandatory quarantine to curb the infection curve and assist the country’s healthcare system cope with cases, UNDP mobilized to contribute to the immediate response by helping people stay informed about COVID-19 risks and prevention, by procuring 31 life-saving ventilators to help doctors and nurses, by supporting vulnerable and remote communities with protective equipment and by training civil servants and other specialists to move their operations online, without interrupting their services to those most in need. Meanwhile, as part of its more long-term assistance, UNDP Albania also supported labor market performance analysis and assessment of the pandemic's negative impact on the economy and helped design active labour market measures which aim to quickly transition the recently laid-off workforce into employment.
On April, UNDP Albania launched a partnership with the mobile company Telekom to create a platform to share necessary info on COVID-19 health-related risks and prevention methods which is free and does not require spending mobile data.
The information was also disseminated using both UNDP and Telekom’s social media accounts through visually engaging social media banners. In addition, the partnership included live sessions with an epidemiologist, who responded to citizens’ COVID-19 related questions – all the sessions are still available on the UNDP Youtube channel.
Social media influencers highlighted the importance of this health information by sharing UNDP materials on their social media and making their own videos supporting quarantine and social distancing measures. This partnership has reached about half a million Albanian citizens so far.
Aware of the added hardships vulnerable and remote communities are prone to facing in these challenging times, on April UNDP Albania began a social mobilization campaign to mark Int’l Romani Day and to attract society’s attention on the additional challenges faced by the minority during the COVID-19 pandemic. A live Skype session was organized by Vizion+ TV Channel to highlight some of the key messages around the challenges faced by these communities. This campaign provided emergency food assistance and hygienic items to 1150 households from vulnerable and disadvantaged groups.
UNDP's EU-funded Regional Local Democracy Programme (ReLOaD) also adjusted its projects to meet the COVID-19 context and needs of those targetted in partner municipalities. More specifically, during this time ReLOaD has supported 11 fast track projects in its partner municipalities: Tirana, Durres, Shkodra, Tropoja, Lezha, Roskovec, Permet, Elbasan, Korca, Librazhd and Prrenjas.
These projects are focused on:
a) delivery of hygienic packages or informative materials for nurseries or schools and vulnerable groups;
b) supporting farmers with seedlings and appliances to minimize the negative impact of Covid-19 pandemic;
c) supporting students with appliances to follow online classes; etc.
Additionally, in March-April 2020, keeping in focus their initial goal, nine ongoing projects in three partner municipalities (Durrës, Prrenjas and Dibra) were adapted to respond to COVID-19 pandemic needs. These projects have supported vulnerable groups with hygienic sets; fabric masks and sanitary/food packages.
UNDP also activated its network of professionals of development centers for children with disabilities to support them with methods of providing specialized online social services. The same support was provided to the Albanian National Association of the Deaf, in order to ensure the constant provision of reliable and updated information related to COVID-19 in sign language for the community of people with hearing impairments, as well as to establish and maintain a 24 hours hotline to receive requests/claims and provide information/referral services through video calls via WhatsApp for the same community.
In this line, the Ministry of Healthcare and Social Protection was assisted to develop the Protocol on the Functioning of Public and Non-Public, Non-Residential Centers, Providing Services for Persons with Disabilities, during and after the Natural Disaster Period, until the end of the physical / social distancing measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which was approved by Order of the Minister of Health and Social Protection, no. 381, dated 23.6.2020.
Throughout the pandemic, UNDP has worked with central and local authorities to prevent and tackle cases of domestic violence. UNDP continued working closely with relevant line ministries, the State Police and Civil Society Organizations to pay adequate attention to identifying cases of violence and related response and advocate for necessary measures to tackle the situation of domestic violence. With the support of the Swedish Government, UNDP has supported domestic and sexual violence victims and their children through guaranteeing immediate protection and support services throughout 15 municipalities.
Vulnerable communities are being empowered to demand their rights and hold institutions accountable for quality delivery of social care services in the municipalities of Tirana, Puka, Pogradec, Devoll and Rrogozhina. This is being done through implementation of small projects, in partnership with local NGOs, focused on: a) Integrated data collection and analysis in response to social problems arising from COVID-19; b) Awareness raising, strategic communications; c) Implementation of digital and telephone services for vulnerable communities, in response to COVID-19; d) Establishing links between social protection services and health care for the most vulnerable groups; e) Promoting employment for the Roma and Egyptian communities through social care case management; f) Teletherapy for persons with disabilities and the elderly.
UNDP has also supported vulnerable communities through the resources of the Rapid Response Facility and “Ending Violence against Women in Albania” UN Joint Programme by preparing, packing and disseminating 21,200 masks with all local Coordinated Referral Mechanisms (CRMs) of cases of domestic violence in 61 municipalities. This helped first line providers protect themselves and gender-based violence survivors from COVID-19 while serving gender violence victims as per their needs.
In addition, by partnering with the Community Development Centre “Today for the Future” and the Shelter for Abused Women and Girls (SAWG), direct support is continuously being provided to women and girls, victims of domestic violence and their families in the context of the COVID-19 emergency situation through Coordinated Referral Mechanisms of cases in Tirana, Lezha and Durres.
From May to June 2020, the SAWG produced a set of user-friendly materials addressing issues related to women, as well as produced and held an online competition on healthy relationships, which reached 23,000 people on Facebook. Currently, the SAWG is preparing a user-friendly booklet for children and families, is producing awareness messages with public figures addressing the potential contribution of men to household duties and promoting equal family gender roles and is also promoting other awareness measures through its social media platforms, such as provision of green number for reporting violence, printed also on face masks.
The SAWG is also actively contributing to the protection of domestic and sexual violence victims and their children in all municipalties. So far, 54 DV cases have been provided with support, out of which eight women were provided with food and hygienic packages, 2 women have been supported with safe accomodation for two months, 14 women have been supported with free legal counseling and 30 women have been supported with online psychological counseling and educational awareness for their children. Meanwhile, three trainings have also been organized to provide the necessary knowledge to use online tools for making available psychosocial support for women and girls during COVID19 and quarantine/physical distancing measures.
Last but not least, so far, 90 members of Coordinated Referral Mechanisms from the municipalities of Tirana, Lezha and Durres have benefited from the online trainings on two protocols on Domestic Violence (DV) cases management during the COVID-19 pandemic and during normal situations and provided services to many DV cases during the COVID-19 pandemic containment measures.
Seeing the growing number of COVID-19 cases and the pressure this daily increase could cause hospitals, doctors and nurses, UNDP purchased 31 ventilators in partnership with the governments of Albania, Switzerland and Norway. The Ministry of Health and Social Protection received on 16 June 20 out of the 31 ventilators purchased by UNDP with co-funding from the governments of Switzerland and Norway. The event was attended by the Minister of Health and Social Protection and Ambassadors from the donor countries.
As the government removed the mandatory quarantine, the country slowly reopened and COVID-19 cases rose, UNDP’s information campaign focused on informing and promoting Social Distancing guidelines. By teaming up with A2 – the CNN Exclusive News Channel Affiliate operating in Albania - launched the partnership “Social Distancing-Nothing Personal” with the aim to fight the COVID-19 pandemic by increasing awareness and providing the public with reliable information on the benefits that physical distancing can have in the fight against the pandemic. The TV spots produced by A2 and UNDP following the hashtag #SocialDistancingNothingPersonal are constantly broadcasted on TV and promoted on Social Media.
UNDP led the socio-economic impact assessment and programmatic response, working jointly with UN Agencies, the EU and the WB in formulating the UN Response and Recovery Plan with the aim of supporting the Government in focusing on health, employment measures, vulnerable groups, care economy, value chains, SMEs, social protection, local level service delivery, gender and environment.
Through the Skills Development for Employment Programme (SD4E), UNDP supported the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MFE) to analyse labour market performance by looking into various administrative data since the onset of the pandemic and its negative impact on the economy. As such, initial signals showed how the private sector was reacting to the pandemic, their resilience levels, and shed light the new group of unemployed that needed to be treated with various employment measures.
Furthermore, jointly with the MFE, UNDP designed active labour market measure that aim to quickly transition the recently laid-off workforce into employment, by supporting the employers with various subsidies. The SD4E programme equipped the cental, regional and local structures of the National Agency for Employment and Skills with all the necessary tool and capacities to effectively deliver the newly designed programmes. These programmes have now been officially launched by the Minister of Finance and Economy and have started to be implemented in all the 36 Employment Offices around the country.
As the situation unfolds, the continuous monitoring of the labor market and economic indicators becomes imperative. While there are a lot of data sources, projections and forecasts, UNDP is publishing periodic updated data, in the form of short briefs and analysis of official sources like the National Agency for Employment and Skills, General Department of Taxation, and data coming from statistical sources as they become available.
UNDP will continue working on long-term strategies to battle COVID-19 until its eradication and to be able to better cope with similar challenges in the future.