The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented challenges to humankind in the past year, affecting us in a multitude of ways: from the immediate health and economic impacts to changes in our ways of living and working. In the Philippines the pandemic has complicated our resilience-building for seasonal typhoon hazards, the realization of durable solutions in Mindanao, and the progress of the Sustainable Development Goals. The situation in the country remains uncertain as I write this Foreword, with the spread of variants and the consequent lockdown measures being put in place to prevent another surge.
Addressing the health and socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 demands a coordinated, decisive, innovative, and sustained action. It also further requires reinvigorated multilateralism to address inequality, poverty, hunger, sickness; and to build greater resiliency, equity and inclusivity, in short, to build forward better.
Thus, as soon as the first case of local transmission was confirmed, the Humanitarian Country Team launched the COVID-19 Humanitarian Response Plan in April 2020 to support the Government of the Philippines in addressing the most immediate challenges relating to health, food security, water and sanitation, protection as well as risk communication, among others. The COVID-19 HRP final progress report, which I am pleased to present, details the interventions, good practices and lessons learned during the 10-month response.
With the generous support of our resource partners – donor countries, international financing institutions, and the private sector – we managed to mobilize US$39.5 million. This allowed almost 50 country-based United Nations agencies, international and local NGOs, and other humanitarian partners to:
Deliver personal protective equipment to health workers and at-risk communities, as well as convey life-saving information.
Ensure that the most vulnerable and marginalized have continued access to Protection, health, and sexual and reproductive services; food and nutrition; water, sanitation and hygiene; and education options.
Provide social protection measures such as cash transfers for families who lost their livelihoods.
Support the national vaccination program by preparing communities and health workers with training, supplies, and key messages.
The pandemic has changed the way the humanitarian community delivers its assistance, with local and national humanitarian actors being in the forefront of the response. The HCT is now looking to implement a structured approach to localization in the country by enhancing partnerships with local NGOs, civil society organizations and faith-based groups. We also had to adjust our response operations, particularly for the incoming typhoon season, by looking to implement anticipatory actions while integrating COVID-19 safety protocols.
The HCT’s interventions would have not been possible were it not for the flexibility and dedication of our humanitarian workers. We quickly adapted to the situation, transitioning from on-site to virtual working arrangement, allowing us to continue to deliver our mandates. When needed, we deployed to the field amid the threats of inclement weather, insecurity and COVID-19 transmission to respond to the needs of the affected people. It is exactly this commitment to the humanitarian cause that enables all of us to overcome the challenges inherent in our work.
Thank you for your enduring support and devotion!
As we take pride and recognize the substantial impact of our work, we should remain cognizant of residual and emerging humanitarian needs that must be addressed. Building on the good practices and lessons learned, and working in solidarity with all our allies, we will be able to forge a path towards recovery and sustainable development.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.