UNOSSC in Action in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Apr 3, 2020 | News


Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) has remained active in lending assistance to its partners. In the spirit of solidarity and cooperation, UNOSSC at both global and regional levels, has been actively assessing needs in the Global South, facilitating connections, sharing knowledge and best practices, sourcing medical personal protective equipment (PPE) suppliers information through partners networks, and urging strong international solidarity and support among governments and people as we all jointly respond to the pandemic.

UNOSSC-ITU Digital Innovation Challenge, Application Deadline: 15 July 2021

The COVID-19 crisis had an unprecedented impact on our society. Regardless of speculation about what the “new normal” will be, no one is certain about what the future holds. The crisis has exposed the fragility of the current system’s functioning across the globe but has also provided a powerful lens to examine the underlying conditions that led to this fragility, and illuminated gaps in economic and social values chains, providing provided the opportunity to improve economic resilience and related issues.

South-South Cooperation, coupled with embracing new and innovative approaches, presents an opportunity to respond to the current health emergency and far-reaching socio-economic headwinds. Digital innovation reduces information and transaction costs, improves service delivery, creates new jobs, generates new revenue streams and helps conserve resources. Since the beginning of the pandemic, innovators have been responding to the crisis with a progressive approach.

UNOSSC, jointly with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), has launched a Digital Innovation Challenge that aims to scale up digital innovations through South-South and triangular cooperation. The challenge will identify scalable innovative digital solutions that will enable countries, societies, communities, institutions and individuals from the Global South to deal with the cascading effects of the pandemic – across governance, economic and social sectors, and wellbeing

The challenge will help promote SSC by replicating or scaling up existing Southern innovations with a potential partner/ country in the South. It seeks to identify, recognize and support digital innovation solutions in the global South and harness its potential to accelerate digital transformation. The challenge will provide a mentorship scheme to increase the potential capabilities of Southern organizations to scaling up innovations across developing countries. Click here to learn more and apply.

Webinar Series: Creating Opportunities for South-South Knowledge Sharing

In this context, UNOSSC has been organizing a series of knowledge sharing webinars in partnership with its partners in order to promote the sharing of experiences and emerging lessons learned from different countries as they respond to the COVID-19 crisis. The webinars focus on specific issues precipitated or accelerated by the pandemic, and highlight opportunities for South-South and triangular cooperation and knowledge sharing. For more information, please click here.

Supporting South-South Solidarity Among Cities

Recognizing the power of city-to-city solidarity, since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, UNOSSC managed South-South and Triangular Cooperation among Maritime-Continental Silk Road Cities for Sustainable Development Project (Cities Project) has been actively engaged in collaborative projects around the global South. The initiatives aim to boost cooperation among Southern cities, improving knowledge sharing, facilitating donations of supplies, and stimulating collaborative efforts to fight the pandemic.

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UNOSSC Survey Identifies Priorities of Developing Countries in Asia-Pacific for Recovering from the Impacts of COVID-19

Global crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic require that we pay special attention to the needs of developing countries, which are more limited in their resources and therefore more vulnerable to harmful consequences. To access information on priorities directly from developing countries in Asia and the Pacific, the UNOSSC Regional Office for Asia-Pacific launched a survey that targets at 30 countries in the region. The survey has questions on countries’ priorities to recover from public health, economic and social impacts, as well as their prime concerns in responding to the pandemic. It also collected data on the assistance received and given by the countries through South-South cooperation. Click here to access the results of the survey, which received feedback from over 17 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

India-UN Development Partnership Fund in Response to COVID-19

The India-UN Development Partnership Fund, managed by UNOSSC, is working rapidly to support projects to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in many different countries in the Global South. The Fund is supporting projects that focus on a wide range of issues, including increasing national healthcare capacities, reducing risk of transmission, mitigating socio-economic impact and catalyzing transformative recovery. For details on recently approved initiatives of the Fund, including its Commonwealth window, please click here.

IBSA Fund Support to COVID-19 Responses

The India, Brazil and South Africa Facility and Poverty Alleviation, the IBSA Fund has also been supporting COVID-19 responses.  The “Innovative e-Learning Approach for Health Project” which has improved health care coverage and quality in the Northern Coastal region of Viet Nam, is an example of such support. The project has been successful in reaching health care workers in remote medical settings and is now being used to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. In light of the increasing demand to level up knowledge of the health workforce to respond to the outbreak, WHO and Hai Phong University of Medicine and Pharmacy (HPMU) are jointly enhancing the eLearning platform by adding online training modules on COVID-19 developed by WHO, in areas such as clinical care for severe acute respiratory infections. The modules are translated into Vietnamese to increase the reach of the training course to frontline healthcare providers in the country.

A participant learning through eLearning for Health platform supported by IBSA Fund (Photo WHO)

Click here to explore the mapping on the COVID-19 responses.

Mapping of Southern Countries Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

UNOSSC conducted a mapping on South-South Galaxy of responses and efforts of health authorities, mainly the Ministries of Health across countries of the global South, to help mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The objective of the mapping is to provide a dynamic repository of efforts in addressing the pandemic and enable countries to quickly access information, compare practices, and learn from one another through South-South knowledge exchanges.  The mapping also includes official donation platforms established by governments, where available. This will facilitate the scaling up of efforts and allow countries of the South to adequately mitigate the risks of the pandemic ahead of time. Additionally, the mapping includes examples of sub-regional, regional and interregional organizations that are serving as important platforms for coordinating South-South cooperation efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mapping School Feeding Programmes in the Global South with WFP

Recognizing the expertise available in the Global South, UNOSSC and the World Food Programme (WFP) have collaborated in mapping national adaptations and innovations on school-based programmes, including their intersection with national social protection programmes, as a vehicle of government strategies in social protection.  The mapping provides a dynamic repository of efforts in addressing the outbreak and enabling countries to quickly access information, compare practices, and learn from one another through South-South knowledge exchanges. For more information, please click here.

Cities Project Newsletters

Since early February, South-South Galaxy has been sharing knowledge products and experiences in epidemic responses, both to the current COVID-19, and to previous pandemics such as H1N1 and Zika.  Digital outreach efforts were utilized to reach a wider audience. Some of those insights have been compiled in a series of special edition newsletters, which highlights some of the important work that UNOSSC and other partner organizations have been doing in order to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic with South-South Cooperation and solidarity.

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Call for Donations of Medical Supplies through South-South Galaxy

The early stages of the pandemic saw severe shortages of medical and personal protective equipment (PPE) in the most affected regions. Respirators, which are crucial to the treatment of patients in critical condition, as well as medical protective suits we among the most difficult items to source.

In response to an urgent request for such medical supplies from a project partner in China, UNOSSC collaborated with the Finance Center for South-South Cooperation  (FCSSC) on a Call for Donations of Medical Supplies promoted through South-South Galaxy. The campaign achieved immediate results, and 15 urgently needed non-invasive respirators and 1,000 medical protective suits worth $100,000 were procured through UNDP China. On 22 February all the respirators arrived in Wuhan, Hubei Province. On 24 February, 150 protective suits also reached the city of Yuxi.  The remaining suits were dispatched in March.

Call for Donations to Fight COVID-19 in the Global South through “Bithelp”

A call for donations, facilitated through South-South Galaxy, was launched by UNOSSC and the Finance Centre for South-South Cooperation (FCSSC)  through the blockchain-based platform Bithelp. During the two-week campaign, partners pledged donations with various cryptocurrencies. FCSSC then cooperated with PPE manufacturing companies which conduct transactions with cryptocurrencies, for the procurement and shipment of the 250,000 masks to Africa.

Information and Resources

Information is key for containing the spread of any virus. The United Nations is providing real-time updates on the pandemic on an ongoing basis.

  • WHO and the entire UN System are engaged in efforts to support governments at the epicenter of the pandemic, and prevent further escalation of the situation. For real-time updates, please click here
  • The UN News website is also posting the latest news and reports on the outbreak. You can find more by clicking here.
  • Download WHO’s COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan by clicking here
  • Access PAHO/WHO Guidelines and Recommendations on Influenza  by clicking here

COVID-19 Pandemic

UNOSSC Asia-Pacific Stands with China

Current Response and Lessons Learned from Previous Outbreaks

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