Meetings and conferences

COVID-19 Experiences and Challenges in Fragile Contexts: Building Resilience to Future Shocks

Organizer(s) United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction - Regional Office for Africa United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Overseas Development Institute
COVID-19 and Fragility Webinar
In person

Date: 27 July, 2020

Time: 13:00 GMT, 14:00 BST, 15:00 CEST, 16:00 EAT






The webinar will provide a platform to share information on COVID-19 preparedness, response and recovery efforts with a focus on lessons learned, good practices, challenges and experiences in fragile contexts. Experiences of countries from different contexts will be highlighted, and attention will be given to lessons learned from previous crises such as the Ebola crisis, among others. The socio-economic response in place to protect people who are already vulnerable or marginalized, such as displaced persons, refugees and persons affected by a disaster and/or conflict will also be discussed. In this regard, international humanitarian and development partners will outline their support for response and recovery efforts in fragile contexts and will share ideas on how best to integrate efforts to build resilience to future shocks into immediate response.  


The COVID-19 crisis is deepening the existing vulnerabilities of large populations in developing countries. Fragile[1]  contexts present a particular set of challenges for the national and international response to COVID-19. As the risk context is constantly changing, flexibility and agility is required from international partners as well as national institutions to be able to identify solutions for those most in need. Growing attention to the humanitarian-development-peacebuilding nexus (HDPN) provides new opportunities to reduce both emerging and existing risks and for ensuring longer-term investment in addressing the systemic nature of risk.

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 focuses on the need to strengthen disaster risk governance and highlights the importance of breaking the silos in disaster prevention and management. Existing mechanisms and strategies for disaster risk management, such as those detailed in the Sendai Framework, offer concrete means to respond effectively to epidemics and even global pandemics such as COVID-19.[2] The Tunis Declaration on accelerating the implementation of the Sendai Framework and the Africa Regional Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction[3] urges African States, Regional Economic Communities and African Union Commission, development partners, private sector, civil society organizations and other stakeholders to develop innovative ways to ensure that disaster risk reduction is effectively implemented in fragile and conflict affected contexts. Offering innovative approaches to DRR in coherence with climate change, conflict prevention and sustainable development actions could mean a great deal for the immediate response to Covid-19 and for building resilience to future shocks.

The international community has been making strides in supporting COVID-19 response and recovery efforts in fragile contexts. For example, the United Nations COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan aims to fight the virus in the world’s poorest countries, and address humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable people[1]. Today, the full capacity of the UN system is mobilized, including the socio-economic strengths of over 40 UN Development System entities.  The World Bank Group has increased COVID-19 Response to $14 billion to help sustain developing economies and protect jobs, and it has launched a package to rapidly redeploy a further $1.7 billion from existing projects for urgent pandemic response and recovery[2]. Finally, since March UNDP mobilized over $170 million in new funding from partners, repurposed over $150 million in programme funds, in agreement with donors and partners, including $30 million disbursed to 130 country offices across five regions through a new Rapid Response Facility (RRF) to support governments’ COVID-19 priorities. It is also providing technical support to the UN’s socio-economic recovery efforts and supporting the overall coordination role of the Resident Coordinators, with UN teams working as one across all aspects of the response.

While there is an unprecedented challenge to meet the Sustainable Development Goals in fragile contexts, there is also an unprecedented opportunity for scaling up efforts to achieve them. Investments and finance are at the core of the Sendai Framework and resilient investments are needed for countries and communities to build resilience against all types of hazards, including biological hazards such as COVID-19.

Key questions to be addressed by panelists from NDMAs:

  • What can we learn from previous crises, such as the Ebola crisis in West Africa, and what elements can be applied to respond, recover and build back better from the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic and build resilience, including against biological hazards and pandemics?
  • What are the ongoing and planned efforts of national agencies and international humanitarian and development partners to respond to the current crisis and build the resilience of the most vulnerable or marginalized communities – including the displaced and refugees?
  • How can we learn from past experience and current experiences and how can we strengthen risk governance to effectively manage this crisis and future risks future?



5 minutes

Opening – presentation of panelists

Amjad Abbashar, Chief, UNDRR Regional Office for Africa

5 minutes

Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG) for Disaster Risk Reduction, UNDRR

10 minutes

Ronald Jackson, Head of the Disaster Risk Reduction and Recovery Team, UNDP

10 minutes

Setting  the scene

Katie Peters, Senior Research Fellow,  Overseas Development Institute (ODI)

40 minutes

Experiences and Challenges in Fragile Contexts

Moderator: Amjad Abbashar (UNDRR)

  • Liberia: Henry O. Williams, Executive Director, National Disaster Management Agency of Liberia
  • IraqDr. Jassim Al Falahi, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Health and Environment
  • Mozambique: Luísa Meque, General Director, National Institute for Disaster Management (INGC)

15 minutes

Q @ A

5 minutes

Wrap-up and Way forward


[1] The WB classification of Fragile and Conflict-affected Situations identifies 18 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and the OECD broader classification identifies 32 countries.

[2] As of today, only 6 of the 18 Sub-Saharan African Fragile and Conflict-affected Situations (as classified by the WB) have validated a national strategy on DRR. Using the OECD broader classification, the fragile contexts countries with a national DRR strategy are 16 out of 32 in Sub-Saharan African.

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