Supporting livelihoods and new tech to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic
In Nepal, more than 70 per cent of the economically active population is involved in the informal sector, according to ILO. With the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, this group together with migrants, daily wage earners and small business owners face severe constraints in terms of making a living - on top of the health hazards posed by the virus - and risk falling back or deeper into poverty. Local governments' ability to disseminate quick and accessible information about COVID-19, including through new digital and innovative solutions, must also be strengthened to fight the epidemic and its knock-on effects across the country.
In Nepal, COVID-19 provided an opportunity and springboard for digital solutions to bolster rapid response to and recovery from the crisis and tackle longstanding development challenges. UNDP’s Accelerator Lab has partnered with the incubator CellApp Innovations and its ‘SmartPalika’ (Smart Municipality) application to scale up features that support local governments to undertake live-tracking management, report quarantine data to the public, disseminate COVID updates, and allow users to self-assess and report on their health status.
To tackle the socio-economic impact from the influx of returning migrants during COVID-19, UNDP further created an Artificial intelligence enabled digital system, ‘SipShala’ (Skills Lab), which maps and matches the skills and interests of returnee migrants with potential employers.
COVID-19 has also had devastating impacts on Nepal’s economy, particularly in the food and agriculture sector. Currently, the Government and UNDP’s Cooperative Market Development Programme (CMDP) is preparing to launch a digital platform, ‘KrishiCoopBazaar.com’ (Agriculture Cooperatives Bazaar), which will help facilitate transactions between farmers and customers and address issues related to food security by ensuring greater access to, and more reliable supply of, food.