It is a pleasure and honour to join you all at this very important event as we witness the flagging off of health personnel to be deployed here in Kajiado as well as in Kakamega, Busia, Garissa, Machakos, Kilifi, Kiambu, Taita Taveta, Wajir, Kisumu, Migori, Mandera, Uasin Gishu and Nairobi.
It has now been established that since measurements begun, human development - the combined measure of the world’s education, health, and living standards is this year on course witness a decline - for the first time. This indeed speaks to the seriousness of the challenge Kenya faces today, alongside other countries world over. As stated by His Excellency, President Uhuru Kenyatta, “we are at war” with the virus – and unless we face it head-on, COVID-19 will undermine our collective efforts towards achieving the long-term development aspirations of the country, including the ability to realise the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
Like in any war, we must mobilise and deploy “troops who are equipped and prepared for battle”. The deployment we are flagging off today is part of UNDP’s continued investment in the country as we support the national COVID-19 response. The deployment of health personnel today is part of the commitment we made when we reprogrammed over US$3million of the joint Devolution Programme towards national response to the new coronavirus pandemic.
Allow me to acknowledge the generous support of our partners, the governments of Sweden, Finland, and Italy – without who’s support this wouldn’t be possible.
The identification and recruitment of the 50 health personnel could not have been possible in such a short time without the existing strong partnership between UNDP and UN Volunteers (UNV) programme which UNDP is proud to administer and support in the implementation its mandate. The volunteers we are deploying bring a range of skills and experience that is urgently needed in the fight against COVID-19 at County level. Join me in commending them for availing themselves and joining the frontline workers who are putting lives of others ahead of their own.
My word to you (volunteers) is that you are being given an opportunity to participate in furthering the work of the UN in your own country – your mission is special as it will greatly contribute to Kenya’s efforts aimed at addressing not just the COVID-19 pandemic, but other development challenges that have emerged as a result. Just like other community volunteers under the Ministry of Health, your commitment and dedication will be key in ensuring a successful outing.
The socio-economic impact of the crisis threatens not only the lives of Kenyans but Kenya’s hard-fought development progress. UNDP will, therefore, continue supporting the Council of Governors, the County Assemblies Forum, and the national government in designing and implementing interventions that will enable the country respond and recovery from this crisis.
Within the United Nations family, UNDP will also continue to provide the technical leadership to the Resident Coordinator’s Office and the UN Country Team, to ensure that the United Nations Framework for the immediate Socio-Economic Response to COVID-19 is aligned with the national response priorities, strategies and plans.
Let me conclude by saying that UNDP has recently launched the next phase of our COVID-19 crisis response. In this phase, our support will be designed to help decision-makers look beyond recovery, towards 2030, making choices and managing complexity and uncertainty in four main areas including governance, social protection, green economy, and digital disruption. This is part of our role in technically leading the UN’s socio-economic response. We look forward to working with all of you here and other partners in the country as we collectively tackle this unique but not insurmountable development challenge.