COVID-19 Implications in the Field
The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting societies and economies around the world on an unprecedented scale. The industrial sector is not exempt from this devastating impact: with lockdowns, restricted movement of goods and people, and disruptions in global supply chains, industries around the world are forced to severely reduce or even halt production, resulting in substantial financial and social risks at local, national, and international levels. UNIDO is contributing to the concerted efforts put forth by the international community, and the United Nations system in particular, to promptly and effectively respond to this global crisis through cooperation, adaptation, and innovation.
In the case of South Sudan, the COVID-19 pandemic arrives at a time when the country is already combatting the potential onset of a, “hunger pandemic” (UN World Food Program). According to the WFP, food and nutrition security in South Sudan is the worst it has been since 2011, with nearly 60 percent of the population unable to find food on a daily basis. Locust swarms, which arrived in South Sudan earlier this Spring, contribute to heightened risk of food scarcity across the country.
These immense challenges make UNIDO’s work in South Sudan ever more pressing. UNIDO is working closely with its constituents, stakeholders, and partners in South Sudan to monitor the situation and coordinate access to locations that are still accessible, while complying with COVID-19 prevention measures, in order to continue implementing project activities that promote enhanced food security through targeted training programs. For all continuing activities, UNIDO is providing personal protective equipment such as face masks to participants and is enforcing appropriate social distancing measures during all meetings and site visits. Amidst this rapidly-changing context, UNIDO is also designing business continuity plans and is re-prioritizing the project activities to ensure the feasibility of its interventions and their salience with local needs and priorities.