COVID-19 is a crisis on top of existing crises such as war, famine, and other rampant communicable diseases like cholera. Nearly 80 per cent of Yemenis need humanitarian assistance and protection, 10 million people are on the brink of famine, and over 3 million are currently displaced and unable to return to their homes. Unchartered territory, a quickly spreading virus and a laissez faire approach will most certainly increase the likelihood of a devastating outbreak.
Even before COVID-19, with over half the hospitals defunct, Yemen battled a fragile health system. To help fight the rampant spread of the virus – and led by the UN Resident Coordinator and WHO – UNDP helps procure supplies, rehabilitates critical infrastructure, and supports production of non-medical grade personal protective equipment (PPE) by mobilizing manufacturing businesses across the country. Thousands of hand washing stations have been installed and hundreds-of-thousands of hygiene and sanitation kits distributed. Waste management has been upgraded and solar energy boosted at medical isolation centers to meet new needs. To reach across frontlines, UNDP also works to empower local governance actors through financial and technical support while strengthening civil society partnerships to help ensure effective service delivery.
As COVID-19 has spread, so has misinformation – boosting fear among citizens. An awareness raising campaign with local authorities and civil society targets communities through radio stations and social media outlets. The campaign includes conflict and gender issues that may result from COVID-19 stress, by addressing social and economic impacts on Yemeni families.
The economic impact on an already vulnerable population will be enormous. To help mitigate, UNDP is building on forward-looking partnerships with international and national partners to extend direct cash transfers, cash-for-work and public work schemes.