COVID-19 pandemic

Humanity needs leadership and
solidarity to defeat the coronavirus

The coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is the defining global health crisis of our time and the greatest challenge we have faced since World War Two. Since its emergence in Asia late last year, the virus has spread to every continent except Antarctica.


But the pandemic is much more than a health crisis, it's also an unprecedent socio-economic crisis. Stressing every one of the countries it touches, it has the potential to create devastating social, economic and political effects that will leave deep and longstanding scars. UNDP is the technical lead in the UN’s socio-economic recovery, alongside the health response, led by WHO, and the Global Humanitarian Response Plan, and working under the leadership of the UN Resident Coordinators.

Every day, people are losing jobs and income, with no way of knowing when normality will return. Small island nations, heavily dependent on tourism, have empty hotels and deserted beaches. The International Labour Organization estimates that 195 million jobs could be lost.

The World Bank projects a US$110 billion decline in remittances this year, which could mean 800 million people will not be able to meet their basic needs.


UNDP response

Every country needs to act immediately to prepare, respond, and recover. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has launched a US$2 billion global humanitarian response plan in the most vulnerable. Developing countries could lose at least US$220 billion in income, and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development has called for US$2.5 trillion to support them.

Drawing on our experience with other outbreaks such as Ebola, HIV, SARS, TB and malaria, as well as our long history of working with the private and public sector, UNDP will help countries to urgently and effectively respond to COVID-19 as part of its mission to eradicate poverty, reduce inequalities and build resilience to crises and shocks.

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, social protection, green economy, and digital disruption. It encompasses our role in technically leading the UN’s socio-economic response.

Click here to read more about UNDP's response.


“We are already hard at work, together with our UN family and other partners, on three immediate priorities: supporting the health response including the procurement and supply of essential health products, under WHO’s leadership, strengthening crisis management and response, and addressing critical social and economic impacts.” UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner


We have been supporting countries since the very early stages of this crisis, donating essential protective medical equipment. As the response evolves, and after assessing the immediate, medium and long term needs, we are moving into the socio-economic response.

When the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as a pandemic on 11th March 2020, countries around the world responded by implementing social distancing measures to slow the transmission of COVID-19, including the mandatory closing of businesses. The Government of Botswana introduced the Emergency (COVID-19) Regulations, 2020 which provided for, inter alia, the declaration of a lockdown, restriction of movement of people and the closure of facilities. 

In Botswana UNDP was instrumental in supporting the establishment of the National Emergency Operation Centre, providing both digital solutions and equipment as well as office management support. This enabled the Task Team to be operational from day 1 and focus on the immediate response to the evolving crisis. 

UNDP also led the inter-agency support to the Department of Gender Affairs in the development of the National GBV Response Plan. Under this, a nationwide awareness raising campaign on GBV matters was conducted, ensuring that legal aid is available to GBV victims through Legal Aid Botswana.

Together with the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, a youth-focused COVID-19 prevention campaigns with prominent athletes, poets and youth across the country were successfully carried out. The two months long social media campaigns were also flighted on national television and successfully spread awareness and debunked peddled myths about COVID 19.

UNDP led the UN-wide Social and Economic Impact Analysis, with ILO, UNICEF, UNFPA, WHO, WB, UNDP, RCO and the UK High Commission. This analysis unpacked the impact of the pandemic across the 5 UN pillars: health first, protecting people, economic recovery, macroeconomic response, and social cohesion and. Based on this, UNDP developed three  recovery plans underpinned by the principle of Building Back Better:

A Private Sector Recovery Plan

An Informal Sector Recovery Plan

Social Protection Recovery Plan

(L-R) UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Margunn Indreboe Alshaikh; Deputy Commissioner K. S. Bogosing; UNDP Resident Representative, Ms. Jacinta Barrins; Commissioner of Botswana Prison Service, Silas Motlalekgosi; Photo; UNDP/Lebogang Tlhaloso

Through the Supplier Development Programme, UNDP supported 44 SMEs and 7 large companies with a business continuity plan that facilitated supply chain continuity, access to funding and the diversification of products and markets. All the businesses stayed in business and are now scaling up.   Further, UNDP supported 110 entrepreneurs of the national Poverty Eradication programme with PPEs to continue their operations.

Applying the Leave No One Behind (LNOB) lens in programming, the following groups were targeted and offered support:

i)  Women, men, girls and boys experiencing GBV and abuse: national response plan developed, outreach and awareness raising through the LEOCs and provision of additional safe shelters.

ii) Poor and vulnerable – 110 poverty eradication beneficiaries (adults, youth, men, women and PWDs) and 4158 prisoners were provided with PPEs. 149 prisoners also benefited from a presidential pardoning. The Social Protection Recovery Plan also seeks to strengthen the social protection system, ensuring LNOB and a better integration of support throughout a person’s life-cycle.

iii) Frontline workers: 2000 prison staff were provided with PPE kits and environmental health workers were supported with PPE kits, guidelines and materials to appropriately deal with medical waste and burials.


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