Resident Rep Remarks at the Launch of the County COVID-19 Social-Economic Reengineering and Recovery Strategy, 2020/21- 2022/23

December 4, 2020

UNDP Resident Representative Walid Badawi presenting his remarks at the launch of the County COVID-19 Social-Economic Reengineering and Recovery Strategy, 2020/21- 2022/23 on behalf of the UN system in Kenya


Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

A very good morning to you all, including those joining us virtually.

It is with profound solidarity and a strong sense of partnership that I stand before you on behalf of the UN System in Kenya, ahead of the official launch of the County COVID-19 Socio-Economic Re-engineering and Recovery Strategy, 2020/21 2022/23.

The UN system in Kenya’s partnership with the Council of Governors began when the Council was inaugurated and continues to this day. I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate the Council of Governors on today’s groundbreaking ceremony for their new headquarters, it will serve as more than an office building but also a symbol of devolution’s strength and service to the people of Kenya.

Today, the world faces an unprecedented threat from COVID-19 pandemic.

For the first time since the UNDP measurement began, the human development index in on the decline in 2020. The impact of COVID-19 will reverberate across the SDGs and reverse hard-won developmental gains. Addressing these losses means recovery from COVID-19 must take a different path from the previous global development trajectory.  The pandemic has made our pledge to leave no one behind and to reach those furthest behind first, much more difficult to achieve. Together, nonetheless, we have a chance to turn one of the greatest reversals of human development in our lifetime into a historic leap forward to a sustainable, inclusive, peaceful, and resilient future, with the Sustainable Development Goals as our compass.  

With up to 100 million more people being pushed into extreme poverty in 2020, 1.4 billion children affected by school closures, overwhelmed health and social services, and record-level unemployment and loss of livelihoods, especially among women who constitute over 70% of low wage earners, it is clear that choices made today could be the tipping points that transform our societies and our planet for the better.

On the global level, and indeed here in Kenya, the UN system is supporting governments in the response to the pandemic and we mobilized early to comprehensively save lives, control the spread of the virus and ease the economic fallout. The UN has led on the health response, provided life-saving humanitarian assistance, psychosocial and economic support to the most vulnerable, established instruments for rapid responses to the socio-economic impact, provided evidence-based sex and age disaggregated data and laid out a broad policy agenda.

As we are learning, collaboration is vital to battle a virus that affects all humanity, indiscriminately. Although time is never on our side in a swiftly moving pandemic, UN agencies and humanitarian partners have since the onset worked with the Government of Kenya to take quick action to support communities in responding to this virus. The courage and sacrifice of the frontline workers, including doctors, nurses, midwifes, police officers, sanitation workers and volunteers —as they continue supporting those most vulnerable — is an inspiration for us all to do our part to control this virus. As we commemorate International Volunteer Day tomorrow 5 December, under the theme #Togetherwecan, I urge us all to take a moment to celebrate these great heroes.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

There is no choice between addressing the health impact and the socio-economic fallout from this pandemic. Unless we control the spread of the virus, the economy will never recover. This crisis requires each one of us to focus on the people – particularly the low-wage workers, small and medium enterprises, and the most vulnerable and marginalized, including women, youth, children elderly and those living with disabilities . Together we must cushion the impact on people’s lives, their livelihoods and the economy – by considering a scale-up of social protection initiatives and supporting small and medium enterprises to prevent bankruptcies and job losses, especially for the most vulnerable groups.

The UN and its partners in close collaboration with the Government of Kenya have developed the UN in Kenya COVID-19 Socio-economic Response Plan and we have provided technical and financial support towards the Government of Kenya’s two-year Economic Recovery Strategy and the County COVID-19 Socio-Economic Reengineering and Recovery Strategy. We are encouraged that these strategies provide an inclusive and urgent socio-economic response, based on common themes which emphasize on:

1. Protecting health services and systems;
2. Scaling up social protection and basic services;
3. Protecting jobs and supporting small and medium sized enterprises, and the most vulnerable productive actors;
4. Enhancing social cohesion and community resilience, and
5. Recovery strategies are “greener”, “bluer” but not “browner”, and that they embrace innovation and technology as crucial enablers.

The launch of the County COVID-19 Socio-Economic Reengineering and Recovery Strategy therefore, signifies a step in the right direction in coordinating all our efforts and contributions in dealing with the crisis, preventing its escalation and ensuring that Kenya “build forward better”, leaving no one behind.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Drawing on lessons learned and an ever-changing environment that requires a contextualized and  flexible approach, we are confident that the County COVID-19 Recovery Strategy will support Kenya’s response in addressing the pandemic and its negative effects at both National and County levels in a gender-and youth responsive and inclusive manner.   

In line with the UN Secretary-General’s call on my organization, UNDP, as the technical lead on the COVID-19 socio-economic response and recovery, we will continue to work closely under the leadership of the UN Resident Coordinator and together with the entire UN Country Team in Kenya to respond to government requests for socio-economic assessments, support and implementation of the COVID-19 response and recovery plans.  In doing so, UNDP is placing its development knowledge and its assets at the disposal of the government to facilitate a response that builds on the expertise of the entirety of the UN System, and provides the integrated policy advice and implementation support required in a development emergency setting.

We thank our development partners who have swiftly responded to our call for an effective engagement through flexible financing to support the national response. We thank the Governments of Sweden, Finland and Italy who have supported our joint UN Devolution Programme implemented in collaboration with our sister agencies UNWOMEN and UNICEF and the government of Norway who has provided additional funding to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. We also thank the Government of Japan for the support towards the development of the national Economic Recovery Strategy led by National Treasury and Planning and to key multi-stakeholder consultations and coordination that has contributed to the development of the County COVID-19 Socio-Economic Reengineering and Recovery Strategy.

On behalf of the UN family in Kenya – let me reaffirm our commitment to fight this war together.

It is only together, that we can defeat COVID-19 in Kenya, and #BuildForwardBetter.