UNDP’s Home Owners Associations network aids rapid response to COVID-19 outbreak

May 7, 2020

Photo сredits: Oleksandr Podoliaka / UNDP Ukraine

In a deadly pandemic, with infections increasing exponentially, an early response is essential.

And as the outbreak of coronavirus spread across Ukraine from mid-March, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was able to mount such a response through all 24 of the country’s regions.

How was it done? UNDP in Ukraine leveraged its network of regional coordinators set up under a two-year project called “Home Owners of Ukraine for Sustainable Energy Efficiency Solutions (HOUSES)”. The project, launched one-and-a-half years ago by the European Union and UNDP under the EE4U, was designed to stimulate and support the formation of Home Owners’ Associations (HOAs) throughout the country’s 24 oblasts.

However, as the coronavirus crisis spread to Ukraine, UNDP realised that its HOUSES coordinator network was ideally suited for getting the message out to the public about how to protect themselves from the COVID-19 disease.

Network power

Working together with the World Health Organization and the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, UNDP was quick to print up and send to all 24 oblasts posters with key information and suggestions on how to avoid catching the virus and stay safe. The posters were sent to the almost 3,500 homeowners’ associations in a communications campaign that reached an estimated 1.8 million people with valuable information on how to stay safe from the coronavirus. The information allowed HOAs to stock up on all major essentials, and to plan further actions. For instance, HOAs themselves started to come up with creative ways to sanitize their buildings or support elderly residents.

After the introduction of the quarantine regime throughout Ukraine, some homeowners’ associations took the initiative and started to sanitize their multi-apartment buildings by placing mats with disinfectant at the entrances of their dwellings. Leading by example, ordinary civilians have shown how everyone can act for the good of all, even in times of stress and anxiety.

The world should work together

The HOUSES project was designed to support the creation and developing of the capacity of newly created and existing HOAs, which are intended to develop energy efficiency. However, it has gone much further by creating a wide network of activists who have managed to build solid relationships and strengthen coordination with the local authorities.

So when the novel coronavirus made its unwelcome entry to Ukraine, this network became the idea vehicle for getting the information about the COVID-19 disease from the authorities to the public quickly, because, as noted before, time was of the essence in fighting the coronavirus outbreak.

Nearly two months after quarantine was declared, as Ukraine readies to gradually lift lockdown restrictions, the country has recorded relatively few COVID-19 fatal cases compared to other large European states. The lesson is clear: Working together in a spirit of solidarity is vitally important in overcoming crises.

In an ever-more-quickly-changing world of emerging diseases and accelerating climate change effects, the commitments made by the world’s countries under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development have never been so relevant. As the coronavirus crisis in Ukraine and around the world shows, we have to act quickly, and we have to act together, to achieve the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

And you can act now, by taking on online course on sustainable development! UNDP Ukraine, in partnership with German development agency Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, has created three new online courses on the subject.

Under the title “E-Learning for Sustainable Development,” the three courses are:

  • Act further: Sustainable development for civic activists
  • Act further: Sustainable development for businesses
  • Act further: Sustainable development for civil servants

Choose the one that suits you best, or subscribe to all three! Follow this link to subscribe.