As part of the United Nations response to the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic in Kenya, an agreement has been reached with partners on the UNDP-led Consolidating Gains and Deepening Devolution in Kenya project to remobilize $3.1m of funds towards rapid measures to mitigate the impact and spread of the virus, which have been formulated in line with the COVID-19 Contingent Plan developed by the Government of Kenya.

The project, which is jointly implemented by UNICEF and UN Women in close collaboration with Ministry of Devolution and ASALs and supported by the governments of Finland, Italy and Sweden, was due to begin implementation when COVID-19 emerged as an urgent threat to the national health as well as socioeconomic development.

Taking into account the fast-moving nature of the crisis, Government of Kenya, UN and development partners engaged in the project have agreed an initial six-month workplan to bolster Kenya’s response to COVID-19 at both national- and county-levels. The rapid response will include interventions such as messaging campaigns targeting vulnerable populations, provision of personal protective equipment (PPE), deployment of personnel with medical experience, and engagement of quarantine centres to ensure human rights and gender sensitivities are respected.

Speaking to partners this week, UNDP Resident Representative Mr. Walid Badawi highlighted the criticality of adapting to the changing conditions and thanked partners for their responsiveness:

“We are living in extraordinary times: recognizing the reality of the current situation, today we are adapting this devolution support programme to better assist Kenyans in the fight against COVID-19. I applaud the flexibility and generosity of our partners in the Government of Kenya as well as the governments of Finland, Italy and Sweden for their approval to use existing funds to support a rapid response,” Mr. Badawi said.

UNDP will lead a number of interventions under the rapid response, including: the development and dissemination of messages based on WHO and Government of Kenya guidance in English, Kiswahili and vernacular through mediums including radio, TV, SMS bulk messages and social media; the deployment of upwards of 50 UN Volunteers (UNVs) with relevant medical experience to the counties; to support research by the Council of Governors (CoG) into the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19 in the counties; and, to provide technical support around COVID-related medical waste management.

As a long-standing development partner to the counties and Ministry of Devolution and ASALs since the implementation of devolved governance, UNDP is well-placed to coordinate this response through both national and devolved governance structures, having led the Integrated Support Programme to the Devolution Process in Kenya, implemented between 2014 and 2019, and as the lead agency for the ongoing Strengthening Devolved Governance in Kenya project.

UNDP is helping countries to urgently and effectively respond to COVID-19 as part of our mission to eradicate poverty, reduce inequalities and build resilience to crisis and shocks. In Kenya, UNDP is also leading a UN-wide effort to establish the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19 – an initiative which will inform future development programming, particularly during the recovery stages of the crisis.

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