As an increasing number of countries, including many developed countries, are struggling to cope with the outbreak of COVID-19, developing countries are facing an unprecedented threat to human life, social cohesion and economic devastation due to fragile health care systems and socio-economic vulnerabilities. The current COVID-19 pandemic calls for unprecedented action. It requires more than ever innovative and collaborative measures by all countries and the global community to contain the spread, which is growing at an accelerating pace, and mitigate its far-reaching repercussions. Sharing of strategies, innovative cases, and lessons learned and fostering cooperation among countries is crucial for combating COVID-19.
Against this backdrop, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), through its Division for Public Institutions and Digital Government (DPIDG) and its Project Office on Governance (UNPOG), in collaboration with other relevant organizations, is organizing a Webinar Series on “Leveraging Public Governance & Spearheading Innovative Solutions to Address the COVID-19 Pandemic”. The Webinar Series addresses the needs of developing countries, including countries in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and countries in special situations in the Asia and the Pacific region.
The Webinar devoted to responses from Africa is organized by UN DESA in collaboration with the African Association for Public Administration and Management (AAPAM), the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).
As is well known, COVID-19 has reached many African countries. African countries have to quickly move from COVID-19 readiness to response as confirmed cases appear. Governments and health authorities across the continent are striving to limit widespread infections . Yet, more than 40% of the population in Africa lives below the global poverty line and many cannot afford testing toolkits. A high number of people in African countries will become unemployed as most of them are employed in the primary industry and tourism. Many Africans in urban areas live in slums with high population density and without good water and sanitation services, which can contribute to the spread of the virus. The large youth population, coupled with community-based livelihoods and religious practices of mass gatherings, make it difficult for governments to limit the movement of persons by implementing lock-down and social distancing policies. Many African countries also lack the capacity to produce or procure basic medical supplies such as masks, sanitizers, ventilators and other personal protective equipment (PPE).
Among 47 countries in the World Health Organization (WHO) African region, nearly 60% are reporting COVID-19 cases in multiple locations compared with around 21% two weeks ago . African countries have a rapidly closing window to manage the crisis. Thus, it is urgent for governments in the region to take swift action to get prepared and respond to the COVID-19. Effective public governance, based on whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches, is essential for countries to effectively and rapidly mobilize actions at all levels through participation of all stakeholders, including the private sector, the youth, faith-based organizations and civil society organizations. National to local coordination is also essential to effectively deliver services, particularly in the health sector. Digital technologies can be deployed to enable effective, timely, and inclusive government responses to COVID-19 at national and local levels. These technologies can expedite health diagnosis and outbreak situation analysis; foster evidence- and data-based decision-making processes by governments; facilitate emergency communications and real-time information sharing; and assist delivery of government assistance to all, including vulnerable groups, while minimizing human contacts.
The Webinar aims to:
- introduce national experiences in fighting COVID-19, including effective approaches and strategies, successes as well as challenges faced by governments from selected countries such as China, Italy, Kenya, Republic of Korea, Rwanda and South Africa;
- provide different policy options and solutions, and approaches to prioritization of policy actions, that can be applicable to specific conditions of those countries such as densely populated countries, island nations and in- and post-conflict countries;
- provide policy advice on how to strengthen public governance, particularly horizontal coordination and national to local coordination and policy coherence, for mobilizing national concerted efforts;
- equip governments and other relevant stakeholders with the information to leverage digital technologies and digital government tools for responding to COVID-19 – depending on country-specific contexts;
- collectively build a knowledge base for better defining and identifying capacity needs;
- facilitate partnerships at the regional and global levels, including through North-South and South-South cooperation.
The Webinar Series aims to strengthen effective governance by enhancing integration, collaboration and cooperation among stakeholders through whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches as well as national to local coordination to fight the COVID-19. The Webinar Series will result in a) a compendium of experiences on readiness and responses to COVID-19; b) possible solutions portfolio; c) a mechanism for intra- and inter-national collective learning and peer support; and d) information sharing through the UN DESA website and other means.
The target audience of the Webinar Series includes government officials who are in charge of coordinating and leading the national efforts to fight the COVID-19, and government officials from the health sector, disaster management agencies, local government officials at the frontline, and fiscal and financial officers. The Webinar Series also intends to involve civil society organizations, the private sector, academia, health and quarantine experts, and regional/international organizations that are addressing the COVID-19 crisis in the region.
Key questions to be addressed during the webinar
- How can the top leadership promote a whole-of-government and whole-of-society response in the fight against COVID-19?
- How can it promote better coordination between the national and local government levels?
- What should be the first priority in policy actions to address COVID-19? How can governments effectively prioritize their policy actions following the outbreak of COVID-19?
- What are the main challenges and difficult dilemmas when making decisions in addressing COVID-19?
- How can innovation and digital technologies be used in the fight against COVID-19?
- What are some of the government emergency measures taken amid the COVID-19 outbreak that are geared towards mitigating its adverse socio-economic impacts on people, particularly on vulnerable groups?
- What are some examples of effective strategies to improve public communication on risks and challenges during the COVID-19 outbreak?
- What approaches and methodologies could facilitate international, regional and bilateral cooperation for assisting African countries in addressing the COVID-19?
- 12 May 2020
- Contact Information
UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA)
Division for Public Institutions and Digital Government (DPIDG)
Ms. Mi Kyoung Park
Governance and Public Administration Officer
UNPOG/ DPIDG/UN DESA
Mr. Samuel Danaa
Associate Capacity Development Expert
UNPOG/ DPIDG/UN DESA
Ms. Hye Kyung (Shelley) Choi
Programme Management Assistant
UNPOG/ DPIDG/UN DESA
African Union Development Agency
Ms. Barbara Glover
Research Fellow: Emerging Technologies
NEPAD Industrialization, Science, Technology and Innovation Hub