Coronavirus – Africa: stronger partnerships crucial for successful implementation of Sustainable Development Goals in light of COVID-19


Momodou Camara (Acca)

The Bureau of the Sixth Session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD) has met and adopted an action plan establishing key priorities for implementing key messages from the forum that was held in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, in February. Chaired by chaired Zimbabwe’s Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister, Mr. Paul Mavima, this was the Bureau’s first meeting since the adoption of the Victoria Falls Declaration on the Decade of Action for Sustainable Development in Africa.

The Decade of Action calls for accelerating sustainable solutions to all the world’s biggest challenges, ranging from poverty and gender to climate change, inequality and closing the finance gap. With the coronavirus pandemic raging on the continent, members of the bureau recognized the unprecedented and serious challenges being caused by COVID-19 and noted with grave concern the growing loss of human lives and huge negative economic and social impacts of the crisis on the continent. Africa, the agreed, was likely to be disproportionately affected by the pandemic given the region’s underlying vulnerabilities.Untitledd 2


The Economic Commission for Africa’s (ECA) recent analysis on the impact of the pandemic estimates that economic growth on the continent is expected to drop from 3.2 percent to 1.8 percent. As of March 2020, a decline of 1.4 percentage points is expected from the effects of COVID-19. Africa’s Finance Ministers have called for an initial support package of US$ 100 billion in 2020 to cushion their nations from impacts of the pandemic. The bureau agreed that COVID-19 reinforced the need for stronger global and regional partnerships if the sustainable development goals are to be fully achieved and to build resilience to social, economic and environmental shocks and calamities. Member States and other actors were urged to take urgent and collective measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, provide the necessary support to affected communities and address the social and economic implications of the pandemic.

Bureau members, Zimbabwe (Chair), the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Liberia and Morocco, pledged their full commitment to expand outreach, and to take and promote concrete actions in following-up and implementing the outcomes of the sixth ARFSD. The action plan, which will be implemented with the support of ECA, regional organizations and the rest of the UN Development system, recognizes the challenges and need for quality and timely data and statistics for evidence-based planning, implementation, monitoring and reporting on the 2030 Agenda and the African Union’s Agenda 2063. The Bureau is expected to finalize by August, the strategic framework of the Solidarity Fund for Statistical Development in Africa, as agreed in the Marrakech Declaration of the Fifth session of the regional forum; and develop a regional strategy to operationalize the Victoria Falls Declaration on the Decade of Action and delivery for sustainable development and key messages of the sixth regional forum by November 2020.

Outcomes of the Victoria Falls forum will be conveyed to the 2020 meeting of the High-level political forum on sustainable development to be convened under the auspices of the United Nations Economic and Social Council in July. The Bureau committed to contribute to strengthening the capacity of member States and catalyse concrete multi-level actions to follow-up and implement outcomes of the regional forum by carrying out advocacy campaigns at key conferences and other events at global, regional, sub-regional and national levels.Untitled 6 Members also agreed that they will take forward and expand initiatives to strengthen the capacity of subnational authorities in selected countries to conduct Voluntary Local Review to better domesticate and bolster local action to accelerate implementation of the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063. They requested the ECA, which supported the virtual meeting as the Secretariat, and its partners to develop a monitoring and evaluation tool that will enable tracking and comparability of progress of implementation across countries in the region. The ARFSD is an intergovernmental forum convened by the ECA in collaboration with the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank and agencies of the UN system.
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*** These are indicative figures as per the 23rd. March 2020.
*** Market prices are as at 22nd.March, 2020

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Coronavirus – Response to Covid-19 in Mali: United Nations provides support amounting to over US$6 million
The United Nations in Mali through MINUSMA signed on Monday, April 6, with the Malian Ministry of Health and Social Affairs three (3) memoranda of understanding that will enable an integrated and rapid response to the health crisis prompted by the Covid-19 virus. With a total amount of US$2,732,043 or nearly 1,650,000,000 CFA francs financed by MINUSMA, these memoranda implemented by the Ministry of Health with the technical support of the World Health Organization (WHO), outline three projects aimed at acquiring specialized medical equipment and materials without delay. They will also provide health-care personnel with adequate training in order to operationalize measures to prevent and mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the same vein and in order to save more lives, the United Nations agencies, funds and programmes will provide support in various sectors amounting to US$ 3,449,982, or nearly 2,040,000,000 CFA francs.

The scope of this support is expected to be even broader, with in-kind contributions based on the comparative advantages of each entity. For Bamako region, the most affected by the upsurge of the virus, in addition to mitigation measures, the project will focus on the acquisition of vital equipment to support health structures. It will also support health and security centres, particularly at Bamako airport to better monitor passengers on domestic and international flights. The same arrangements will be made through two other projects for the regions of Mopti, Gao, Ménaka, Taoudéni, Timbuktu and Kidal. “These projects support the Government of Mali in responding quickly and effectively to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Together with the implementing partner, the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, we must ensure that the epidemic is contained with this donation of equipment and training while continuing prevention and awareness,” said Mahamat Saleh Annadif, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations family in Mali.

“The support that has been materialized today through the signing of these three memoranda of understanding is proof of our integrated and multisectoral approach to have an impact on the Malian people and meet their expectations. Our support covers all 10 regions of Mali. It strengthens the measures already taken by the government in terms of prevention, including hand washing, social distancing, diagnosis, treatment and also isolation, not to mention control at entry points,” said Jean-Pierre Baptiste, WHO Representative in Mali. MINUSMA and the United Nations system together with their partners remain committed to working alongside the Government and people of Mali to strengthen the response against the spread of Covid-19. New initiatives, including through the Trust Fund for Peace and Security in Mali, will be announced shortly. The United Nations system has realigned its efforts in the fight against Covid-19, but continues all its humanitarian, peace and development efforts.