Georgia prepares a risk-communication strategy for future crises

UNDP and UK help Georgia’s public health authorities to draw lessons from pandemic experience

June 10, 2020

Photo: Vladimir Valishvili/UNDP

Georgia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has drawn widespread praise for protecting public health, but national authorities are still keen to incorporate lessons learned into the country’s policy framework. To enhance preparedness for future emergencies, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the UK Government are assisting the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) to develop a national risk-communication strategy focused on crisis and post-crisis needs.

With USD 60,000 in UK funding, the new strategy will be prepared by the United Nations Association of Georgia (UNAG) working in collaboration with a wide range of interested partners and counterparts.

“The strategy will help inform people about potential risks, their consequences, related decisions and recommendations,” NCDC Deputy Head Paata Imnadze said. “It will be a guiding document to coordinate risk-communication across all respective agencies, partners and stakeholders.”

“One of the lessons learned during the pandemic is that effective and open communication with the public is key to addressing these kinds of crises,” said British Ambassador Justin McKenzie Smith. “This new communication strategy will help Georgia’s excellent public health authorities to reach the widest possible audiences, from decision-makers to citizens right across society.“

“The experience of other countries has shown the disastrous consequences when official guidance in an emergency is mistrusted or ignored,” said UNDP Head Louisa Vinton. “The new national strategy will codify the many things that Georgia did right on COVID-19 and adapt in areas where improvements could be made, for example on the need to design targeted outreach for minorities and vulnerable groups.”

The risk-communication strategy is designed to help Georgia’s Government make effective decisions during a crisis and communicate them to citizens, ensuring public trust and coordination across all sectors of society. The document will address both national and local decision-making while tending to the needs of all citizens regardless of their ethnic, cultural, social or economic backgrounds.

UNDP will provide NCDC with consultancy and technical support in developing the strategy, as well as assist in raising public awareness about this critical strategic document. Other partners to be engaged in preparing the strategy include the Government Administration, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and other national and international stakeholders.

The assistance to the NCDC is just one component of a wider initiative by UNDP to support the ongoing Public Administration Reform in Georgia, implemented in partnership with the UK Government.

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