Remarks by the UN Resident Coordinator, Dr Coumba Mar Gadio High Level Policy Dialogue

The UN family will continue working closely with the Government to ensure that we do not lose any of the gains made in the health sector.

Remarks by the UN Resident Coordinator, Dr Coumba Mar Gadio

High Level Policy Dialogue, Thursday 15 October 2020

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Heads of Cooperation, UN colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen.

It is a pleasure to join you today at this third High Level Policy Dialogue. First and foremost, please allow me to express my gratitude to the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of National Development Planning, as well as the CPG Troika, for inviting the United Nations to address this important meeting.

As we know, the development environment this year has been in a state of flux, with new and unexpected challenges. This requires a new way of working to protect and advance sustainable development in Zambia.

The UN family stands in solidarity with the Government of the Republic of Zambia and its people to build back better through the COVID-19 multi-sectoral contingency and response plan, which constitutes a great foundation. But moving forward, we will need to go beyond this to protect development gains, and help the economy and households stay afloat.

That is why we need a good understanding of what has been done so far, and what could be done to further respond to the socio-economic situation caused by the pandemic. To understand better the situation and make informed decisions, the United Nations in close collaboration with the Government has already started work on a series of national assessments looking at the impact of COVID-19 on education, gender equality, food security, health, nutrition, businesses and social welfare.

These assessments will include recommendations for consideration on appropriate mitigation measures. The UN assessments will also take into account the informal sector where a significant proportion of the population, including women and young people earn their livelihoods.

Discussions are also well advanced to avail UN support (and there are expressions of interest from the World Bank as well) to conduct a government-led integrated household survey that will combine an assessment of COVID-19 socio-economic impact, including Knowledge, Attitude and Practices with a full- fledge Living Conditions Monitoring Survey (The last LCMS survey was conducted in 2015).

I should like to make a brief aside here to appeal to all our Cooperating Partners to join in and contribute as well, especially that the United Nations can only support the first phase of this Household Survey that should produce an interim report early 2021. The same applies to the forthcoming Census which is in dire need of support from Cooperating Partners including International Financing Institutions. As you know, robust and up-to-date data are essential to inform relevant policy making and guide evidence-based formulation of responsive and effective strategies, plans and programmes.

We are also currently discussing with the Government opportunities to leverage Global expertise and support. For instance, building on the experience of over 70 post-crisis assessments undertaken within the partnership between United Nations, World Bank Group, and European Union under the 2008 Joint Declaration on Post Crisis Assessment and Recovery Planning, a simple and flexible methodology has been developed to conduct COVID Recovery Needs Assessments drawing from the Post Disaster Needs Assessment and recovery and peace building assessment methodology.

This methodology has already been used in half a dozen countries including South Africa. The rapid joint assessment report alongside adapted technical assistance and expertise would be extremely useful to support the GRZ-led imminent preparation of Zambia Economic Recovery Programme, which we understand is to be a policy document aiming at addressing various dimensions of Zambia’s current economic challenges over the next four years (2020-2023).

We reiterate here the need for Cooperating Partners, including IFIs to join the UN to take an active part in the proposed dialogue on policies that are most relevant to Zambia and work alongside the Government to undertake this very crucial exercise.

That being said, the United Nations also strongly believe that in addition to policy dialogue and review and until commencement of the 8th National Development Plan in 2022, we should join forces to be working on designing and implementing relevant socio-economic recovery interventions that can help the most affected and the vulnerable to weather this crisis and bounce back faster. To this end, the United Nations has started to address the socio-economic impact of COVID-19, and back in May implementation started on the UN Socio-Economic Response Plan as its contribution to GRZ COVID-19 multi-sectoral contingency plan and recovery efforts.

The $225.5 million dollar plan, of which 5 per cent has been mobilised so far, is organized into five pillars and combines downstream support to delivery systems and communities, and upstream support to policy and programme management by the Government.


The five-pronged framework aims to:

  1. help comprehensively protect the (non-COVID-19) regular health system and services during the COVID-19 crisis;
  2. defend people through social protection programmes and basic services;
  3. protect jobs, small and medium-sized enterprises and vulnerable workers in the informal sector through economic recovery;
  4. help guide the necessary surge in fiscal and financial stimulus to make the macroeconomic framework work for the most vulnerable and foster sustainable development and strengthen multilateral and regional responses;
  5. promote social cohesion and build trust through social dialogue and political engagement and invest in community-led resilience.

To focus on the Health sector for a moment, let me take this opportunity to commend the Government, working together with the UN and Cooperating Partners, for securing funding for vaccines, reproductive health commodities and essential medicines to ensure a continuity of essential health services. The UN family will continue working closely with the Government to ensure that we do not lose any of the gains made in the health sector as we strive to attain Universal Health Coverage.

Through the Socio-Economic Response Plan, the UN aims to ensure that through inclusive and integrated recovery interventions, no one is left behind. The UN in Zambia will continue to engage further with the Government through the line ministries so that hand-in-hand with the Government, and Cooperating Partners, we can work for a sustainable recovery from COVID-19.

With regard to Cooperating Partners’ support to Zambia and the COVID-19 response, the UN through UNOCHA provides coordination support. With the valued support of Cooperating Partners, over $39 million US Dollars1 have been mobilized to date. The resources are helping with the immediate response to the pandemic in the sectors of Health, Food Security, Education, WASH, Risk Communication, Protection (including from GBV), Social Protection and Nutrition.

The funding is also helping to shore up the continuity of essential services, provide immediate economic support, and mitigate the medium and longer term socio-economic impact of the pandemic. The UN stand ready to partner and collaborate further to ensure that support is continuous and coordinated.

Although, it was not specifically part of our agenda item today, along with its humanitarian support, the UN is fully cognizant of the efforts that government is making to fight against the outbreak of the African Migratory Locusts affecting Zambia and the neigbouring countries. The UN through FAO has developed and started implementing a USD 3.5 million Response Plan and has escalated its efforts to mobilise resources at regional level. Given the high potential threat on food security of the country, the UN still invites and welcomes Cooperating Partners to join in this fight.

We look forward to a fruitful and strategic discussion today that will enhance further the cooperation between the Government of Zambia and Cooperating Partners, and I would like to reiterate the UN’s commitment to support the vision and development priorities of Zambia including how to address in the most efficient way the impact of the COVID-19.

Thank you.


[1] According to UN internal coordination $39 million has been contributed to the response while those figures uploaded onto the OCHA Financial Tracking Sheet are still being updated and reflect $21 million.

Speech by
Coumba Mar Gadio
Resident Coordinator
Coumba Mar Gadio, PhD
UN entities involved in this initiative
Asian and Pacific Centre for the Development of Disaster Information Management
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
International Atomic Energy Agency
International Fund for Agricultural Development
International Labor Organization
International Organization for Migration
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
UN Women
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
United Nations Human Settlements Programme
Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS
United Nations Capital Development Fund
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
United Nations Development Programme
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
United Nations Population Fund
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
United Nations Children’s Fund
United Nations Industrial Development Organization
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
United Nations Office for Project Services
World Food Programme
World Health Organization
World Metereological Organization
Other entities involved in this initiative
International Monetary Fund
World Bank
World Bank