COVID-19: New UNDP data dashboards reveal huge disparities among countries in ability to cope and recover

May 1, 2020

Indicators such as the level of poverty, healthcare capacity, access to internet and social protection can portray how severe the effects of the COVID-19 crisis might be in each of 189 countries.

New York – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) released two new data dashboards that highlight the huge disparities in countries’ abilities to cope with and recover from the COVID-19 crisis.

The pandemic is more than a global health emergency. It is a systemic human development crisis, already affecting the economic and social dimensions of development in unprecedented ways. Policies to reduce vulnerabilities and build capacities to tackle crises, both in the short and long term, are vital if individuals and societies are to better weather and recover from shocks like this.

Preparedness of countries to respond to COVID-19

UNDP’s Dashboard 1 on Preparedness presents indicators for 189 countries – including level of development, inequalities,  the capacity of a healthcare system and internet connectivity– to assess how well a nation can respond to the multiple impacts of a crisis like COVID-19. 

While every society is vulnerable to crises, their abilities to respond differs significantly around the world.

For example, the most developed countries – those in the very high human development category- have on average 55 hospital beds, over 30 physicians, and 81 nurses per 10,000 people, compared to 7 hospital beds, 2.5 physicians, and 6 nurses in a least developed country.

And with widespread lockdowns, the digital divide has become more significant than ever. 6.5 billion people around the globe – 85.5 percent of the global population – still don’t have access to reliable broadband internet, which limits their ability to work and continue their education.

Vulnerabilities of countries in crisis like COVID-19

Preparedness is one thing. But, once a crisis hits, how vulnerable are countries to the fallout? UNDP’s Dashboard 2 on Vulnerabilities present indicators that reflect countries’ susceptibility to the effects of this crisis.

Those already living in poverty are particularly at risk. Despite recent progress in poverty reduction, about one in four people still live in multidimensional poverty or are vulnerable to it, and more than 40 percent of the global population does not have any social protection. 

The COVID-19 pandemic also reminds us that disruptions in one place are contagious, triggering problems elsewhere. For example, in some countries, like Kyrgyzstan, a significant part of their GDP comes from remittances. While places as diverse as Montenegro, Maldives and Cabo Verde, rely heavily on tourism (almost 60% of GDP in the Maldives for example), which is being hit very hard by travel bans and lockdowns.

In Ukraine, while the level of vulnerability of the population to multidimensional poverty is considered low, the country's dependence on inflows of remittances (10.99% of GDP, according to 2018 data) represents a major concern.

Explore UNDP's data story with info for 189 countries on their preparedness to respond to crises:



These colour-coded tables monitor the level of preparedness of countries to respond to the COVID-19 crisis and their level of vulnerability. The dashboards allow partial grouping of countries by each indicator in the table. For each indicator countries are divided into five groups of approximately equal size with the intention not to suggest threshold or target values for the indicators but to allow a crude assessment of a country’s performance relative to others. A country that is in the top quintile group performs better than the 80 percent of countries, and country in the middle quintile group performs better than 40 percent but also worse than 40 percent. Five-color coding visualizes the partial grouping of countries and helps users to immediately discern a country performance across the set of selected indicators. Data presented in these tables come from the official international sources.