In honor of International Youth Day 2022 and this year's theme, "Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages," we are highlighting this Op-Ed by UN Resident Coordinator in Chile Maria José Torres, which was originally published by the Joint SDG Fund. This year's theme aims to raise awareness about barriers to intergenerational solidarity, notably ageism, which impacts young and old persons, while having detrimental effects on society as a whole.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the lives of millions of people around the globe. Widespread lockdowns and preventative measures have isolated individuals, affected the world economy, and limited access to physical and mental healthcare. Nevertheless, the pandemic has impacted chiefly older people, highlighting their needs and vulnerabilities. Chile was not the exception.
The articulated work to promote sustainable and inclusive development, placing the elderly at the centre, was the hallmark of the NODO Project, led by UNDP with the participation of ILO, FAO and in close cooperation with the Ministry of Social Development and Family and 12 municipalities. This interagency initiative of the United Nations in Chile, funded by the first Joint SDG Fund Call for Proposals in 2019, aimed to improve the inclusion and the social protection of the older population by strengthening community networks and improving access to the various programs, services, and social benefits available to them.
Project NODO has developed the largest and most comprehensive digital ecosystem for the elderly and their networks in Chile. Considering the negative consequences of COVID-19, in May 2020, NODO redirected its initial efforts to strengthen and support the response of the Chilean government to mitigate the pandemic's effects on the elderly population. As a result, the NODO Emergency Platform was introduced as a new digital social service that links, refers to, and manages requests from older persons, their caregivers and families with an institutional support network across the country. Between 2020 - 2021, the initiative has directly supported almost 50,000 requests, reinforcing the value of partnerships as an essential element of social inclusion and using technologies as a critical element to confront the challenges of this new landscape.
Beyond the pandemic, NODO implemented a permanent digital support network. The NODO Ecosystem includes three digital services:
- NODO 60+, a pilot community app that connects older persons with public social services in 12 municipalities (6 urban-6 rural). Forty professionals were trained to insert and use the platform in 10 Centers for Elderly in 5 regions, extending the program until 2022 and ensuring its sustainability.
- MecuidoTecuido, a national digital community for caregivers that works as a support network for training and self-care, will be escalated in 2022 as a new social policy led by the National Subsystem for Support and Care (SNAC) "Chile Cares" to cover additional vulnerable groups: caregivers of children and persons with disabilities.
- Siempreaprendiendo offers free online courses and other tools to train workers of public and private institutions that work with and assist older persons. This platform will be sustained in 2022 by the national government through an agreement with a Chilean University.
I want to recognize the role and commitment of all the older people who participated in this project, leaders, and territorial groups from urban and rural areas, considering the importance of local differences, the particularities of each commune and the heterogeneity of the older population. This diversity and its richness were central elements in the design, implementation, and sustainability of the NODO Project.
The implementation of the project has been fundamental for strengthening the joint work of the different UN entities in the country and has expanded the UN outreach to local and national government, public and private actors involved in public politics oriented to deepen the goal of placing older people at the centre.
NODO's lessons inspired public policy by "Chile Cares" to cover additional vulnerable groups, children and persons with disability, that are a crucial component of the nascent care system.
Our Country Team (UNCT) highly values the NODO project, which undoubtedly responds to the needs of one of the most vulnerable groups in Chile in the context of the pandemic and is aligned with top government priorities. Moreover, NODO is an excellent example of how the UNCT has worked jointly to respond to the country's demands, especially in urgent matters that affect the rights and living conditions of the people. It also reflects coordinated and effective work in the design of coherent strategies to advance the achievement of the 2030 Agenda, making Chile a country whose development is more inclusive, just, and sustainable.
To learn more about the work of the UN country team in Chile, please visit: Chile.UN.org. For more information about NODO, click here.