© Sayera Anwar


UNDP’s strategic response to COVID-19 is two-pronged. We are supporting health response efforts to prevent the spread of the pandemic as well as mitigating the socio-economic impact on the most vulnerable people and groups.

In Pakistan, UNDP is providing technical expertise to the Federal Ministry of Health and to the National Disaster Management Authority to enhance coordination, tele-medicine support, risk communications and awareness, and data analysis as it implements its Pakistan Preparedness and Response Plan COVID-19. 


© UNDP Pakistan/Shuja Hakim


UNDP is also helping through policy research by providing evidence-based policy advice to national counterparts and facilitating solutions. At the Government’s request, we established a COVID-19 Secretariat at the Planning Commission to help Pakistan’s economic and social response to the pandemic and facilitated preparation of a socio-economic framework in collaboration with other UN agencies. This framework has informed the Government’s 2020-2021 Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP). UNDP is also helping cities in addressing economic fallout:  we recently assisted Faisalabad’s district government to devise a Local Economic Development strategy to address the impact of the disease.

To deal with the pandemic, it is imperative to have effective and capable governance institutions at every level.

Apart from conducting a socio-economic impact assessment, we supported the National Disaster Management Authority Economic Task Force risk mitigation strategies, mobilizing human rights mechanisms for rights-based grievances and providing business continuity support.  Our team is working closely with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Provincial Command and Control Center to strengthen its crisis management capacity. 




This support includes the design of a data collection system from districts, analysis and reporting to inform decision-making by the Health Department, and provision of strategic communications to the provincial authorities.  


TV ad on Precaution Against COVID-19 aired on Pakistan Television Network (PTV)


Meanwhile, with UNDP’ assistance, the government of Sindh has launched a tele-counselling service for confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients to help them cope with the psychological impact of COVID-19 pandemic. 



Unfortunately, Pakistan is still susceptible to climate change related disasters. One of our goals is to mitigate the effects of any such likelihood. As direct help to curb the pandemic, UNDP is working to build capacity of the district governments in association with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), providing business continuity support and supporting the to disinfect public buildings. Simultaneously, we are planning for any monsoon contingency and ensuring food security.


© Jamil Akhtar


Meanwhile, we have operationalized quarantine camps in Quetta, conducted awareness campaigns and provided training to journalists about empirically informed reporting of the pandemic.



We have also supported a nationwide youth perception survey, youth innovation challenges, and online hackathons to understand the views of young people and include their voices in developing COVID related interventions. 



Looking for innovative ways to combat the pandemic, we supported the Ministry of National Health Services Regulations in launching a National Health Hackathon. The hackathon focused on both preventive and curative measures on communicable diseases including COVID-19. 



We have also been conducting nation-wide “Master the Disaster” digital hackathons. These hackathons aimed to generate innovative ideas related to preparedness and response for climate change induced disasters and pandemic crises.

Pakistan was an early adopter of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development “Leaving No One Behind”, as its own national development agenda.

While the pandemic has impacted countries negatively worldwide, yet it has also provided us with an opportunity to empower and ensure inclusion of the most vulnerable amongst us.

*End note: 26th February 2020 marked the first two confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pakistan. At the time of publishing this blog, there have been 221,896 cases and 4,551 number of deaths.


Ayesha Babar

Ayesha Babar is the Communications Analyst and Head of Communication Unit at UNDP, Pakistan.

Ayesha has extensive experience in the field of communication. Her career has taken her through diverse and diametrically opposite fields such as the military and electronic media. She has headed communications for the logistics wing of Pakistan Army, launched two Pashto-language T.V. channels and also headed communications for the European Union Delegation in Pakistan. She is a pragmatist and loves samosas and dogs. 

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