Confirmed cases in Pakistan have skyrocketed from two cases on February 26, 2020, to 276,288 cases and 5,892 confirmed deaths as of July 29, 2020. As in other countries, the pandemic has stressed the capacity of the public health system and has resulted in the loss of human lives. Pakistani lives are at risk, as is the country’s social and economic fabric. Considering that the informal sector in the country accounts for a major share of the national economy and employs 27.3 million individuals, an increase in un(der)employment and poverty coupled with implications on food production and overall food security are anticipated.
Without urgent response measures, COVID-19 may push back Pakistan’s hard-won gains on poverty reduction and social indicators. The poverty rate has declined by 40% in the last 15 years – lifting 23 million people out of poverty. Projections now indicate that the pandemic will cause Pakistan’s GDP to contract, by 1.5%, primarily through a slowdown in the service and manufacturing sectors. There is a real risk that poverty will rise.
 The figure ranges from 18.2% to 71% based on different analysis
 World Bank (2018) From Poverty to Equity: Pakistan at 100, Washington, DC: World Bank.
The next phase of UNDP’s COVID-19 crisis response is designed to help decision-makers look beyond recovery, towards 2030, making choices and managing complexity and uncertainty in four main areas: governance and agency, social protection, green economy, and digital disruption. It encompasses our role in technically leading the UN’s socioeconomic response.
UNDP is developing integrated solutions to uproot inequalities, build a new social contract, rebalancing nature, climate and economies, and using digital technology and innovation to help speed up and scale the transformations to enable the recovery of jobs, health systems, and economies, to build resilience to withstand future shocks. The use of a system approaches to pull together a range of partners such as government, the private sector, sister agencies, financial institutions, investors and donors, and CSOs, to co-create tailor-made integrated solutions, is a critical part of UNDP’s plan.
Strengthening national and local core governance functions for crisis management and service delivery
Strengthening Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Command Control Centre’s crisis management capacity: UNDP Pakistan is working closely with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Provincial Command and Control Center (PCCC) to strengthen its crisis management capacity. The team is engaged in regular data collection from districts and updates the line list daily for sharing with the Health Department and other relevant departments.
Supporting KP Economic Task Force risk mitigation strategies: Our Adviser, as part of the KP Economic Taskforce, provides advice on dealing with the economic effects of the pandemic. UNDP support also includes technical analysis and insight by its team of analysts and contributed to the KP Government’s Economic Recovery Plan. A policy brief by UNDP provided disaggregated estimates of job losses across vulnerable employment categories in multiple sectors. UNDP is also supporting the KP Bureau of Statistics in initiating a province-wide survey (including Merged Areas) to measure the impact on businesses and jobs.
Strengthening Merged Areas Local Government response to the pandemic: UNDP has initiated district-level support for awareness and sanitization campaigns, including additional activities for LG Ambassadors, who support local administration in performing their core functions during the crisis.
Support for key government functions and agencies at the federal level
Business Continuity support: UNDP is providing technical support to the government in enabling alternate work modalities for staff during similar crises.
Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Security
Virtual Courts on Gender-based Violence: UNDP is supporting the establishment of Gender-based Violence (GBV) Virtual Courts.Promoting responsible business practices: The Ministry of Human Rights requested UNDP to continue collaboration on promotion of responsible business practices across Pakistan particularly with regards to increased participation from private sector stakeholders. UNDP will also be conducting a research to compile and analyse data from across Asia (and beyond where relevant) for inclusion in Pakistan’s National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights.
Mobilizing human rights mechanisms for rights-based grievances: UNDP currently supports complaint response mechanisms at both the federal and provincial level including the establishment of a helpline for marginalized groups.
Support to Rule of Law institutions and Law Enforcement Agencies for effective healthcare system response: COVID-19 related PPE, sanitizers etc are being provided to LEAs, Judiciary, prisons’ staff and inmates and litigants.
Voice, accountability and inclusion
Engaging local government counterparts and community leaders to roll out a service delivery programme: UNDP has supported the Sindh government in launching a tele-counselling service that provides counselling to people facing mental health challenges while in self-isolation or at quarantine centers.
Socio-economic impact assessment for social cohesion and community resilience: We led a Rapid Needs Assessment, in April, for the assessment of the socio-economic impact on social cohesion and community resilience.
Informed and engaged societies
Providing strategic support for Crisis Communications and Awareness for the KP Government: UNDP has provided a designated team responsible for COVID-19 related strategic communications and public awareness campaign(s) to the Chief Minister KP’s strategic communications unit.
Operationalize quarantine camps in Quetta
UNDP is supporting the Government of Balochistan in operationalizing three quarantine facilities in Quetta.
Providing support to the government in terms of coordination and policy/decision making
Setting up a COVID-19 Secretariat – We established a COVID-19 Secretariat at the Planning Commission to help the Government with a coordinated economic and social response to Covid-19. The Secretariat has also facilitated the Government in reviewing its Annual Development Plan and ensuring that they respond to COVID-19.
Conducted a rapid Socio-economic impact assessment and prepared recommendations for the Government to address the social and economic implications of COVID-19: At the request of the Planning Commission and under the auspices of UN RCO, a rapid socio-economic impact assessment was conducted in collaboration with the government, other UN agencies and development partners. The assessment and recommendations provided the government information for its budget for 2020-21 and a national action plan to respond to COVID-19.
Supporting cities in dealing with economic fallouts through Urban Platform
We assisted the provincial government in Faisalabad to develop its Local Economic Development (LED) strategy.
UNDP is providing the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) with technical and other support in implementing their Pakistan Preparedness and Response Plan COVID -19 (PPRP).
Our projects will be supporting controlled reseeding activities in KP & Punjab to prevent the local community from the spread of COVID- 19.
We will also be supporting livelihood activities for women in Sindh. These activities will especially focus on supporting women whose incomes have suffered as a result of COVID-19.
We supported the Ministry of National Health Services Regulation for the National Health Hackathon by the National Incubation Center. The hackathon focused on both preventive & curative measures on communicable diseases (infectious or viral/bacterial, etc.) & COVID-19.
UNDP arranged online disaster risk reduction hackathons in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh. Participants from across the provinces came together to generate ideas related to preparedness and response for climate change induced disasters, locust attacks, and COVID-19. UNDP will work to scale up selected ideas with the help of exclusive mentorship and partnerships with the startup ecosystem.
We extended our formal support to Digital Pakistan —an initiative of Prime Minister of Pakistan’s office —in their efforts to become fast respondents to COVID-19. Our initial support to them has been in curation and content development for information on COVID-19, that is being transmitted through chatbot and ringtones to the general public.
Youth and Adolescent Perception Survey: UNDP has conducted a nationwide Youth Perception Survey to understand the youth’s perception and include their voices while developing COVID related interventions. The survey will be conducted periodically to observe the behavioral impact over time.
Awareness Campaign: To create awareness regarding the coronavirus and its spread, UNDP is using social and electronic campaigns to disseminate key messages.
Journalists’ training for reporting on COVID-19 : UNDP has trained journalists from mainstream print, electronic, and digital media on empirically informed reporting on the COVID-19 outbreak in Pakistan.