Deputy Resident Representative, UNDP Suriname Country Office
UNDP Suriname’s COVID-19 response strengthens safe monitoring by police, extends to social institutions and persons with disabilities, partners on reducing Gender Based Violence, and works with the UN system on targeted assessments.
Suriname registered the first COVID-19 positive case on 13th March 2020. Although the country had taken immediate actions, such as closing its borders, prescribing social distancing measures and implementing lockdowns, there was a period rapid spreading and as at December 12, the country reported 5,339 positive cases and 117 deaths. The actual number may appear to be small on a global scale, but the numbers must be considered in the context of the population of approximately half a million.
The fast-geographical spread, lack of adherence on the measures, the lack of hygiene facilities and information to control the spread of the virus are major challenges that should be tackled to mitigate the pandemic. These challenges and risks are exacerbated in poor socio-economic contexts like the ones for the Indigenous and Tribal Population (ITPs).
Under the overall technical lead of PAHO/WHO, UNDP along with other UN Agencies has responded to support Suriname in COVID response and recovery. Containment measures include evening curfews and for this the police had to be out monitoring the movement of all citizens. With support from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) of the United Kingdom under the USAID supported regional CariSECURE Project, UNDP procured and delivered 4,900 protective masks, 1,330 gowns, 500 safety glasses and goggles and 2,000 pair of gloves to the Ministry of Justice and Police to equip the police force to safely and effectively enforce curfew and lockdown measures designed to prevent the further spread of the disease. Read more about this initiative at UNDP Suriname donates COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment to the Ministry of Justice and Police | UNDP in Suriname
PPEs have also been procured for the National Disaster Agency (NCCR) to contribute to the national stockpile, and also for 19 social institutions. These PPE were procured under the regional EnGenDER project supported by Global Affairs Canada and the FCDO of the UK. This support provided 43,000 surgical masks, 2,000 Respirator N95 masks, 58,500 pairs of gloves, 60 non-contact thermometers, 10 gallons of hand sanitizer and 300 bottles of hand sanitizing dispensers. Children’s homes, elderly retirement facilities, women’s support organizations, institutions which support persons living with disabilities, 4 indigenous communities, the National Disaster Management Office and the local government District Commissioner’s Office are some of the organizations which will benefit from this equipment
During the handover of the PPEs to social institutions, testimonials from beneficiaries were heartwarming and clearly showed the appreciation of the beneficiaries. Foundation Chances For Life which is one of the beneficiary organizations working with migrant persons in the gold mining communities spoke on the importance of receiving the PPE to effectively do their work noting that they felt that UNDP “sees them” and they are now able to conduct their work safely.
Under the EnGenDER Project, UNDP also supported the publication of a COVID-19 awareness UNDP also supported the publication of a COVID-19 awareness Video book, targeted at the hearing impaired and which was handed over by the First Lady of Suriname on December 3, 2020, the International Day for Persons With Disabilities. On the 10th of December 2020, Human Rights Day, the COVID-19 Audiobook was presented to the students of the Louis Braille school for the visually impaired. The publication of the Audiobook targeted for the visual impaired was also supported by UNDP through the EnGenDER project.
Some measures required to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 have resulted in conditions which expose women, girls and other at-risk groups to violence. Globally, 243 million women and girls were abused by an intimate partner in the past year . To ensure these groups are protected, with support of the EnGenDER Project, the Suriname’s Gender Based Violence (GBV) Referral Pathway Programme will provide critical support to key service providers who respond to GBV cases, assist impacted persons and guide them to needed services.
UNDP with partners UNFPA, Global Affairs Canada and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom have developed a National GBV Referral Pathway which provides necessary support tools such as information guides. The GBV Referral Pathway initiative was launched with the Minister of Justice and Police and the Minister of Home Affairs, on December 09, 2020. This initiative has also supported the training and capacity building of first responders, duty bearers and other relevant service providers on GBV, through workshops on best practices and life-saving services during emergencies.
UNDP’s support to the Government and people of Suriname has been effective with strong partnership of the Government, various ministries and agencies, UN Agencies as well as with development partners. Partnerships have included the engagement with PAHO as overall UN Agency lead on the COVID-19 response and several other UN Agencies in country including on communications on COVID-19 information. Additionally, a key partnership with UNFPA was established on the preparation of the Referral Pathway to reducing Gender-Based Violence. We have also partnered with the Nobel Peace Prize Winning World Food Programme for cost-effective air freight options that ensured good value for money in importing PPEs. Additionally, UNDP led the development of the Socio-economic Impact Assessment (SEIA) working with detailed technical contributions from 10 UN Agencies, and covering the first six months of the pandemic in Suriname.
The SEIA identified 12 vulnerable groups most impacted including Indigenous and Tribal Peoples (ITPs); Migrants, Asylum-seekers and Refugees; Persons living with HIV/AIDS; Persons and Children with Disabilities; Elderly Persons; Children and Adolescents; Women and Girls; Persons with mental health conditions; Persons in high density situations, such as prisons (including those in juvenile centers); Adults and children in institutionalized settings such as. persons in psychiatric care, drug rehabilitation centers; Persons with pre-existing and/or chronic medical conditions, small and medium enterprises and person in the informal sector. https://data.uninfo.org/Home/_DocumentTracker.
The UNDP Country Office also conducted a Rapid Digital Socioeconomic Impact Assessment (RD SEIA) of COVID19 among 300 Indigenous Households in the period of July-September 2020. The RD SEIA aims to provide guidance on how to minimize the consequences of COVID-19 for the households at risk of falling into poverty and ensure that the most vulnerable populations are protected. The RD SEIA also seeks to identify and address immediate needs and pave the way for UNDP to assist the national government to address the more structural socio-economic bottlenecks in Suriname, with specific focus on the Indigenous community, and build back stronger and greener. Analysis of the data has been completed and the final report is being prepared.
For more information on any of the initiatives above please contact the UNDP Country Office Suriname at firstname.lastname@example.org