Around the world: Daily updates from UN country teams - March 2023
Our UN teams are on the ground in 162 countries and territories, coordinating joint programmes and tackling a range of multi-faceted priorities and key initiatives on a daily basis — from climate action and food security to gender equality and safety of civilians. UN Resident Coordinators and their teams utilize innovative approaches to problem-solving to better serve communities. Below are some highlights of their work this month.
Friday, 24 March
Ukraine: Second Rapid Damage and Needs Assessment
The United Nations, the World Bank, the European Union and the Government of Ukraine launched yesterday afternoon the second Rapid Damage and Needs Assessment. After a full year of war, direct damage to infrastructure and people’s lives is calculated at over 135 billion USD and social and economic losses amount to 290 billion USD. Over the past 6 months the UN has produced more than 20 sectoral assessments in partnership with line ministries that informed these calculations.
Denise Brown, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Ukraine said: “Behind every home or hospital, or school destroyed, a Ukrainian life is affected. Loss of a life, lack of access to proper health care for pregnant women and the elderly or a child who is not able to go to school. While the psychological trauma is incalculable, the RDNA2 is just the beginning of the estimation of loss. But somethings can't be rebuilt.”
The report conveys not only the infrastructure destruction but also the human impact. Behind every destroyed home, hospital, or school, a life is affected and with a cascading impact on productivity and future generations. Housing, energy and the social sector are priorities for recovery and reconstruction, as well as addressing the damages and losses to the agricultural sector, which is key for global food security and which alone is estimated at 40 billion USD. 80% of this amount is the productive loss in the agricultural sector and caused by destroyed equipment and mined farming land. As the war continues, the UN’s humanitarian response will remain, in parallel with the development response to accelerate recovery in communities where it is already possible.
The Gambia: Innovative system to report gender-based violence cases
Our team in The Gambia, led by Resident Coordinator Seraphine Wakana, is helping eradicate violence against women and girls through the establishment of a system that streamlines the reporting of gender-based violence cases securely and confidentially via a digital platform and a 24-hour helpline. Since it launched in January 2023, the “Gender Information Management System” (GIMS) has already received reports of 91 cases [including 30 instances of rape, 23 sexual assaults, 18 episodes of physical violence, 2 cases of early or forced marriages, and 18 intimate partner violence cases]. The GIMS center is supported by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), International Trade Centre (ITC), UN Development Programme (UNDP), and UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), in close collaboration with national authorities. Affected individuals are referred to essential support services, such as psychological and psychosocial support, legal support, and medical care. The UN team there will continue supporting the creation of a robust evidence base on gender-based violence and offering survivors the necessary care and support for healing and recovery.
Monday, 20 March
Ecuador: 6.8-magnitude earthquake
Over the weekend our UN team in Ecuador, led by Resident Coordinator Lena Savelli, expressed solidarity with the people of the country, struck by a 6.8-magnitude earthquake over the weekend that took the lives of 15 people, injuring over 460 and destroying and damaging hundreds of houses. Our UN team offered its sincere condolences to the affected families and reiterated its readiness to support authorities’ response efforts.
Vanuatu: UN's Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) approves US$1.7m for lifesaving activities
An update from our UN team’s response to support authorities in Vanuatu, following twin Category-4 cyclones Judy and Kevin which hit the island nation this month. The UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has approved US$1.7m in funding towards lifesaving activities in Vanuatu. The funding will specifically support three key areas - food security, water, sanitation & hygiene, and emergency shelter, targeted at the most vulnerable and most affected populations. This was announced on Friday during a special meeting hosted jointly by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vanuatu and UN Resident Coordinator Sanaka Samarasinha, attended by over 150 people, including ambassadors and high-level representatives from 37 countries and about 40 partner organizations.
Friday, 17 March
Peru: 40% of provinces declared under emergency after Cyclone Yaku
On the heavy rains and flooding caused by Cyclone Yaku in Peru, 40% of the provinces have been declared under emergency, 59 persons have died, and nearly 30 thousand people have been impacted since January. The UN team, led by the Resident Coordinator Igor Garafulic, is coordinating with the Peruvian authorities to support the response efforts, and this week Mr Garafulic participated in an urgent meeting of the National Council for Disaster Risk Management with the President and the Council of Ministers. Following an assessment done by the Resident Coordination Office, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), a cash transfer emergency project will begin today in Piura, the most affected region, to assist the nutritional needs of nearly 2,000 affected families.
Rwanda: First of its kind delivered to Africa: Mobile vaccine-production units for mRNA-based vaccines
Rwanda has this week received six mobile vaccine-production units that are equipped to manufacture a range of mRNA-based vaccines, making the shipment the first of its kind to be delivered to the African continent. These mobile laboratories will help produce 50 to 100 million doses of vaccine each year, enabling timely accessibility and affordability of vaccines, and reducing its dependency on vaccine imports. Welcoming the delivery, UN Resident Coordinator Ozonnia Ojielo said this is a significant step towards self-reliance in vaccine production. It will strengthen the health system and contribute to global health security, enabling Rwanda to deliver vaccines to the 54 African countries.
The UN, under the leadership of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has provided capacity-building support to the Rwanda Food and Drug Agency (FDA), which will help oversee the local manufacturing of BioNTech vaccines.
Under the coordination of WHO and the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), the UN and development partners have played a key role in facilitating that 76 per cent of the Rwandan population receives at least two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, by organising and financing nationwide vaccination campaigns, enhancing vaccine supply chain management, and collaborating with local NGOs to promote vaccination efforts.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, our UN team in Rwanda has contributed to the response and recovery with US$27.6 million from March 2020 to June 2022. This combines health and socio-economic assistance, human resources, digital innovations/solutions, equipment, emergency response, and individual staff voluntary donations. In addition, the UNCT developed a US$20 million Joint Programme on socio-economic recovery in support of the Government’s COVID-19 national recovery plan, which supported 150 start-ups among Rwandan youth, targeting those who lost their sources of income due to the pandemic. As a result, over 12.500 jobs for young people were created.
Wednesday, 15 March
Vanuatu: Supporting recovery after two cyclones this month
Following the two cyclones hitting Vanuatu this month, the UN Resident Coordinator has arrived and met with Government Ministers, the Disaster Management Office, and UN staff to understand challenges, needs, and ways we can further support recovery. There are over 50 UN staff embedded with government ministries supporting coordination, telecommunication, humanitarian relief, logistics, WASH, and communications. Latest figures indicate that over 5,000 people are in over 100 Evacuation Centers, over 58,000 children under the age of 15 years have been impacted, and there are over 9,000 pregnant and lactating mothers in affected areas. Despite the challenging situation, UN continues to support the government response with the distribution of water bladders and collapsible water containers, support families in evacuation centres, supply solar-powered cold chain equipment, midwifery kits, emergency health kits and tents, support the national immunization team and temporary learning spaces and distribute educational learning material for teachers and students, work on response mechanisms that include persons with disabilities and vulnerable groups and account for gender-based violence risk mitigation measures.
Monday, 13 March
Ukraine: Delivering support through the UN in Ukraine Transitional Framework
Our UN team in Ukraine, led by Resident Coordinator Denise Brown and in close cooperation with the Government, has delivered much-needed support to people in Ukraine, first as part of the emergency response and later on through the establishment of the UN in Ukraine Transitional Framework, created six months after the Russian full-scale invasion. Results from joint efforts carried out in 2022 include helping refurbish more than 40 critical infrastructure damaged by the war including schools and hospitals, indirectly benefiting 5 million people; the provision of access to safe learning and educational services to 2.1 million displaced children, and ensuring routine early childhood immunizations to 700,000 children. Other results include training 10,000 entrepreneurs and 250,000 individuals to be able to use a virtual platform to support Ukrainian businesses; providing 4,000 generators to local authorities, civil society partners and critical infrastructure such as hospitals, and providing grain storage sleeves to over 1,400 farmers to avoid losing harvests given the lack of a way to transport crops to markets.
Thursday, 9 March
Vanuatu: UN deploys extra staff in wake of two cyclones and 6.5 magnitude earthquake
We have an update from our UN team serving Vanuatu, following the two consecutive Category-4 cyclones and a 6.5 magnitude earthquake which struck the Pacific country last week, affecting over 250,000 people. That’s about 80 per cent of the country’s population. In addition to our UN staff in Vanuatu, our team in Fiji is deploying eight staff from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), from our Resident Coordinator’s Office (RCO), and the World Food Programme (WFP) to Vanuatu today. The deployed staff will support the coordination of international humanitarian assistance, relief and recovery efforts, as well as information management, reporting, and human resource mobilization. Our surged colleagues will also boost support to authorities for rapid assessments, building, enhancing, and restoration of communications services. They will also support with needs assessments, including on logistical matters. This also includes the needs around displacement and evacuation centre management, media, and resource mobilization. Our UN staff currently based in Vanuatu’s capital, Port Vila, continue to work closely with the National Disaster Management Office and the Vanuatu Red Cross Society to support coordination and distribute hygiene kits, shelter, food, water and sanitation and other primary needs.
Monday, 6 March
Pakistan: Six months after floods, UN team & partners reach more than 7 million people
Six months after devastating floods hit Pakistan, our UN team and partners have reached more than 7 million people with food and other essential services as part of the Government-led flood response. We are also supporting authorities’ efforts to help communities recover, restore their livelihoods, and prepare for the next monsoon season in a few months. However, only 30 per cent of this year’s Floods Response Plan has been funded, and rates of child malnutrition remain of particular concern. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and partners have reached more than one million children and close to 850,000 mothers with lifesaving nutrition interventions that have helped avert a significant number of deaths. However, only one-third of the child nutrition response has been funded, leaving 12 million children suffering from stunting (chronic malnutrition) at risk. For their part, the World Health Organization (WHO has reached more than 3 million people with health services WHO) has reached more than 3 million people with health services. While the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) provided food security and agriculture assistance to 7 million people, 4 million are still at risk. Also, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Red Cross (International Federation of the Red Cross) have provided shelter and distributed non-food items to more than 3 million people so far, yet funding is still required to support 2 million families whose houses were destroyed or damaged. Flood waters have now largely receded, but 4.5 million people are still living near contaminated stagnant floodwater. The UN will continue to support the Pakistan in their recovery efforts, including the Resilient Recovery, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Framework (4RF).
Vanuatu: Supporting people affected by two tropical cyclones and an earthquake
We have an update from our UN team serving Vanuatu, which was hit by two consecutive Cat-4 tropical cyclones, and a 6.5 magnitude earthquake between just last week. Authorities report that some 200,000 people were affected. That’s over 63 per cent of the population, with initial assessments having just kicked off. Under the leadership of acting Resident Coordinator a.i. to Vanuatu, Ms. Heike Alefsen, and our regional Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the UN Pacific Humanitarian Team is supporting Government-led response efforts in and to Vanuatu. While there is still a power outage and communications challenges across the capital city, UN personnel and humanitarian partners continue to work with authorities and civil society stakeholders. Our team on the ground had prepositioned items in Vanuatu ahead of the cyclone season and these have been distributed by partners. UN agencies are working closely with the Vanuatu Red Cross Society to distribute emergency supplies; more are expected to be shipped to support the response efforts. Our team is supporting authorities with additional lifesaving and needs assessments and has offered to immediately deploy staff to further assist on the ground.
Thursday, 2 March
Costa Rica: National Artifical Intelligence (A.I.) Strategy
Our UN colleagues in Costa Rica, led by Resident Coordinator Allegra Baiocchi, announced this week that the country will be the first in Central America to have a National Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) Strategy, in partnership with our team on the ground. The Government reached an agreement with UNESCO to develop this strategy with an ethical approach to A.I., promoting innovation that fosters sustainable development and human rights. The UN team continues supporting the country’s efforts to combat hate speech through A.I., a partnership that led Costa Rica to launch the region’s first National Plan to Combat Hate Speech. As part of their joint work, also using A.I. the UN team just launched three major investigations on hate speech, discrimination against women, and xenophobia this year, working with civil society, the private sector, and authorities to identify trends and help find solutions to tackle the problem.
Wednesday, 1 March
Lebanon: Combatting the spread of cholera
Our team in Lebanon, led by UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Imran Riza, is working with authorities and partners to combat the spread of cholera in a country that is already plagued by a severe economic and financial crisis. With a total of 6,500 cholera suspected and confirmed cases and 23 associated deaths since the first case of cholera was reported five months ago, our team on the ground, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Refugees Agency (UNHCR) and partners are working under the leadership of health authorities. The UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and Lebanon Humanitarian Fund together have allocated a total of $9.5 million to prevent the spread of cholera, targeting directly more than 1.5 million people across Lebanon, also including refugees from Syria and Palestine and migrants. With the support of WHO and the International Coordination Group, and as of 15 February, a total of 1.1 million Oral Cholera Vaccines (OCV) doses have been administered through door-to-door campaigns among high-risk vulnerable populations. The vaccination campaign began in mid-November 2022 and reached over 90 per cent coverage by the end of last year. Efforts also target refugee and host communities in hotspot areas.
Interested in more? Check out previous daily updates from UN teams 'around the world':