Beyond Recovery: Towards 2030

 

Our Evolving Response 

Health, socioeconomic, governance challenges are immense: Since the first community transmission on 15 April 2020, Maldives experienced a health emergency and the subsequent full lock down. The crisis led to socioeconomic challenges, affecting children’s education, with rising psychosocial needs, domestic violence, stigma and discrimination. The capital Male region being among most densely populated globally, the virus community spread continues to increase. As of September 2020, the cumulative number of cases have exceeded 8,000. The government established five regional health facilities to prepare, contain and respond to the health crisis. Government services were interrupted, while efforts are being made to accelerate digital services such as on-line court hearings. It is critical that the country will not lose the hard earned human development gains since the 1990s. The key will be to prevent those who are affected by COVID crisis from falling into permanent multidimensional poverty (10% Male, 40% in atolls, prior to COVID crisis).

Impacts on economy, livelihoods and future of work are significant:  Being a small island development state (SIDS), highly dependent on the tourism sector (70% of GDP), Maldives was hit hard by the halt of the tourism industry due to COVID-19. Although the airport reopened on 15 July 2020, the return of tourists has been slow, making the economic recovery a challenging process. The government estimates tourists will decline 50% and GDP will contract by 11.3%, and 49% reduction in revenues this year. The limited fiscal space stresses national budget and therefore financing for public services, while the livelihoods and job losses directly affect people’s lives. According to the Maldives Rapid Livelihood Assessment Report by UNDP and Ministry of Economic Development, youth, women and migrants (50% of those made redundant in the tourism sector) as well as MSMEs are disproportionately impacted, and majority of affected employees were from the tourism sector (54%). The government response includes a USD 162m package of economic relief, loan schemes to MSMEs, subsidies to electricity and water bills to support people’s welfare.

Slower but long-term climate and environmental impacts are underlining risks: Slower but long-term impact by global warming and ecosystem degradation are apparent risks during COVID crisis. Water scarcity in atoll islands has a direct negative impact on health and virus contamination efforts. 47 islands requested for emergency water supplies till May 2020. Increased plastic use and waste due to delivery packages during lockdowns increased the risk of marine and other ecosystem degradation, which affects tourism in the long term. Heavy reliance on oil (8% of GDP) and food import (25% of total import) continued to stress fiscal space and increased demands for domestic food security and shift to a greener and bluer economy.

UNDP led the designing of UN Maldives’ Socioeconomic Framework UN Socio Economic Recovery Framework in the Maldives which defines the strategic direction of UN and UNDP Maldives’ COVID recovery support. UNDP 2.0 offer is closely aligned to the Framework to effectively support the recovery phase and beyond towards achieving SDGs in Maldives.

UNDP's Offer 2.0 

Upholding democratic governance under new normal.

Business continuity of essential services and strengthened institutions: UNDP has a long-standing support to Maldives’ judicial reform to improve access to justice for all. It is crucial that the essential justice sector services, such as court hearings, continued to function to uphold human rights and provide access to justice for all, and vulnerable groups in particular. UNDP works closely with the justice sector agencies to digitize their services. Courts in Male’, and Magistrate Courts in the islands, Judicial Service Commission, Employment Tribunal, Attorney General’s Office are being supported with their digital transformation efforts.

Promote social cohesion and tolerant society, advocate against stigma, discrimination and misinformation: UNDP supports a Social Cohesion Messaging Campaign by disseminating COVID related messages. In partnership with Maldives Media Council (MMC), UNDP supports quality of media information by assisting accreditation framework and guidelines on code of ethics to reduce misinformation and promote media professionalism in Maldives.  UNDP works closely with National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC), Ministry of Defense and other stakeholders to support implementation of National Action Plan on Prevention of Violent Extremism, by awareness building, training of local island officials and communities to promote tolerance and respect for diversity. New UNDP Maldives podcast, ‘Frontier Challenges’, has been launched, with weekly interviews of front-line thinkers and actors, who thrive to innovate for solutions in response to COVID crisis. Frontier Dialogues in the Maldives

National Strategic Action Plan and SDGs: UNDP works closely with the President Office in aligning SDGs and Strategic Action Plan of Maldives, considering the priorities emerging from immediate COVID response, recovery and beyond. SDG mapping has been conducted to support prioritization of government action.

SDG Financing: Considering the continuous stress on fiscal space and increased debt burden, innovative financing to achieve SDGs, while recovering from COVID, is critically important for sustainable development of Maldives. In close partnership with the Ministry of Finance, Maldives Monetary Authority and other stakeholders, UNDP assists Development Finance Assessment (DFA) to understand financial landscape beyond traditional ODA, and supports Integrated National Financing Framework (INFF). UNDP assists policy paper that suggests new financing schemes to incentivize substantive investment towards climate resilient infrastructure and nature conservation.

Women’s political participation under COVID: Women play critical roles in all spheres of COVID response and recovery in communities, but not in policy and political arena. 33% reserved seats for women at local council elections will be a historic opportunity for women to influence policies that matter to them. UNDP supports women candidates to be empowered as a new generation of leaders, by provision of training and needs assessment, in preparation for the local council elections.
UNDP Strengthening the Role of Women Within Political Parties

Health crisis response: UNDP has assisted procurement of PPEs upon request by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Health. UNDP, in collaboration with WHO, assisted in equipping five regional health hubs with 25,000 diagnostics testing kits, thereby supporting increased health response capacity outside the capital to reduce health access gaps among the population in the islands UNDP, WHO, Ministry of Health Provide Covid-19 Testing Supplies. UNDP has mobilized one million masks from private sector donation, which accelerate protection and containment in public.

Social protection – uprooting inequalities

Domestic violence, GBV, mental health: In response to the increased risk of domestic violence, we provide technical assistance and training to judiciary sector professionals in applying domestic violence and sexual offense legal provisions. UNDP, in collaboration with UNICEF and Maldives Red Crescent, respond to the needs for psycho-social support to vulnerable people, including the victims of domestic violence, as a result of increased cases during and after lockdowns. New social support service hotline (1421) capacity was increased, receiving an average of 640 calls per day since it started on 20 May. With WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, UNDP provides support to mental health provision.

Legal aid protection: UNDP is supporting provision of legal aid to the people who were affected by the pandemic, such as workers whose jobs were lost or reduced, including migrant workers, and those who became victims of violence, in partnership with local CSOs such as Transparency Maldives and Maldives Red Crescent, the Bar Council of Maldives and Employment Tribunal and IOM.

Basic service - Water to all: COVID crisis raised special attention to risk of water scarcity in atoll in protecting people against virus. UNDP assists the co-designing tools for ground water recharge and rainwater harvesting to support more than 50 communities to improve community-based water monitoring systems, in addition to procurement of water-testing. The support is building on the long-term assistance programme with GCF finance, in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment.  UNDP Maldives session 30 April 2020

Information access by People with Disabilities: UNDP has supported development of an app by a local NGO, ‘Thaana Mallow’, aiding the blind and visually impaired persons to read the digital text in Maldivian Thaana script. The app enabled access to COVID related and other critical information. The initiative is in partnership with the Ministry of Youth, Ministry of Gender, Blind and Visually Impaired Society, Maldives Association of Persons with Disabilities, Maldives Deaf Association, Wellness Association of Maldives. Thaana Mallow PR

 

Green and blue economy 

Assessing Impact on livelihoods and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs): UNDP and Ministry of Economic Development, in collaboration with National Statistical Bureau, Maldives National University, Ministry of Tourism and other relevant institutions, conducted the COVID-19’s impact on livelihoods and MSMEs. A series of policy recommendations were made to form an integral part of the national response plan to help youth, women and other vulnerable groups to regain livelihoods and build back better the business of MSMEs Maldives Rapid Livelihood Assessment Report .

Greening, bluing livelihoods by increasing food security and strengthening MSMEs: UNDP, Ministry of Economic Development and Ministry of Agriculture, Fishery and Marine Resources are assisting youth, women, PWD and other vulnerable groups to diversify their skills and enhance agribusiness opportunities, by which increasing food security in Hulhumale and Laamu islands SEEDs project . The initiative also supports MSMEs by assisting their business continuity, diversification, risk management, and innovation
National Dialogue Series on MSME Response & Recovery

Economic diversification and future of work after COVID: Maldives’ narrow economic base on tourism hit its economy hard, resulting in an acute realization of the need for diversification of economy and people’s, particularly youth and women’s, skill development for future of work. UNDP assisted Kulhudhuffushi City, GA, Villingili and GDh. Thinadhoo, with virtual sessions to promote women and girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education or empowering them with 21st century and future skills. This is building on our support to increase girls and women access in STEM fields to transform the future of work and breaking harmful gender stereotypes and promoting women in leadership positions through “Vaane” Camp for young girls. Vaane: Empowering Girls Through Sports

Tackling plastic waste, promoting circular economy: UNDP assists the Ministry of Environment with a provision of emergency waste management facilities in the north atolls. Building on the outcome of a system design thinking training with key stakeholders,Workshop on Systemic Design as a Means to Address Waste Management & Circular Economy UNDP collaborates with state entities and CSOs to assist implementation of community-based innovative ways of plastic waste management. Various locally and community-led waste management practices are also supported by the GEF Funded Small Grants Program, UNDP and the Environment Ministry tackles legal framework and systematic response to hazardous chemicals management Project to Eliminate Persistent Organic Pollutants PR.

Climate promise: UNDP support Environment Ministry to raise ambition of Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) targets under the UNFCCC’s Paris Agreement. Beyond COVID crisis, climate impact continues to require urgent action. UNDP provides technical provision towards the tourism sector GHG emission reduction.

Digital transformation and innovation for speed & scale

Digital judiciary and continued justice sector services: UNDP has a long-standing support to Maldives’ judicial reform to improve access to justice for all. It is crucial that the essential justice sector services, such as court hearings, continued to function to uphold human rights and provide access to justice for all, and vulnerable groups in particular. UNDP works closely with the justice sector agencies to digitize their services. Courts in Male’, and Magistrate Courts in the islands, Judicial Service Commission, Employment Tribunal, Attorney General’s Office are being supported with their digital transformation efforts.

Digital local governance services: Digitalization opens new opportunities for local governance efficiency and effectiveness. UNDP works closely with Local Government Authority (LGA) to roll out on-line capacity building tools for local government officials and other key stakeholders responsible for delivering local government services during and after COVID. Empowering women’s development committees is particularly critical, noting the important roles played by women and with the first ever 33% women’s reserved seats at local government to be implemented at the forthcoming elections.

Youth for social innovation: UNDP partnered with the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment, the Youth Council and Ooredoo Maldives to organize the 5th social innovation camp “Miyaheli” with over 70 participants to create innovative ideas to aid the nation in its COVID-19 response and recovery efforts themed around education, health, food security and livelihoods, prevention of violence, and social cohesion. Miyaheli PR

Information access by People with Disabilities: UNDP has supported development of an app by a local NGO, ‘Thaana Mallow’, aiding the blind and visually impaired persons to read the digital text in Maldivian Thaana script. The app enabled access to COVID related and other critical information. The initiative is in partnership with the Ministry of Youth, Ministry of Gender, Blind and Visually Impaired Society, Maldives Association of Persons with Disabilities, Maldives Deaf Association, Wellness Association of Maldives.  Thaana Mallow PR

Accelerator Lab in Maldives: Accelerator Lab has been established to advance innovation, exploration, experimentation to seek and scale solutions to COVID response, recovery and beyond, to achieve SDGs faster and bolder.  

Resources: Global Scenario

At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, UNDP globally presented a three- to six-month response offer costed at $500m covering three thematic areas:

1. Health Systems Support: $150m

2. Inclusive and Integrated Crisis Management and Response: $250m

3. Social and Economic Impact Needs Assessment and Response: $100m

Today, while health systems support and crisis management remain critical elements of our work, the scale of our social-economic offer has grown in response to country demand and reflecting the lead technical role UNDP has been asked to play within the UN System.

UNDP thanks all funding partners who provided funds for the first phase of its COVID-19 response by both agreeing to re-purpose existing commitments and providing new funding. UNDP continues to rely on additional funding from our partners to support programme countries on the immediate health crisis, including health systems support and crisis management response, and to help cover needs identified over the next 12 to 18 months.

 

Area

Funding Need

Continuation of Phase 1

Continued health crisis support

$200m

Expansion of Phase 2

 Governance

$150m

Social protection – uprooting inequalities

$120m

Green economy

$150m

Digital disruption and innovation

$80m

 

Total

$700m

 

 

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