Salam Shaikh, 27, left, coordinator for COVID-19 awareness programme wearing a PPE (Personal protective equipment) helps children for using liquid soap to wash their hands on pedal operated hand washing station with running water inside a men’s community toilet in M-East ward-Chembur, Mumbai, India, on Tuesday, June 16, 2020. In light of the overall situation in Urban Slums of Mumbai, there is distress in the slum settlements due to the increasing graph of Covid19 with Community toilets becoming the core point of the transmission and preparedness of the schools used as quarantine centres. UNICEF Maharashtra partnered with Citizens Association for Child Rights and Triratana Prerana Mandal for a one of a kind project “Flush the Virus: Mumbai Diary” for sustaining the urban slum sanitation and preparedness of schools in COVID 19 pandemic. Activities for extending support to 150 community toilets and 50 MCGM schools used as COVID Care Centres in slum settlements. Under the project installation of 300 Non-Touch Pedal Operated HandWashing Stations in both Male and Female sections of 150 community toilets and 500 elbow operated taps in 50 BMC schools has commenced with proper IEC materials. While implementing the project and empowering the caretakers/users of the community toilet and officials from the schools, both CACR and TPM under has created SoPs/Checklists for Caretakers/Users/BMC Schools and conducted an online training program on WASH, Future readiness of Schools and Community Toilet Operations and Management mid and post Covid19 ! Pandemic to 150 CBOs and 50 MCGM officials including Sanitary Inspectors. Through this project UNICEF, CACR and TPM expect to reach 150000 population including 30000 children in Urban Slums of Mumbai. Dhiraj Singh / UNICEF India.
Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s introductory remarks at the high-level meeting of Ministers of Finance, in New York on 8 September:
It is an honour to welcome and join such a distinguished gathering of Finance Ministers as we face so many uncertainties in unchartered waters. The COVID-19 pandemic, and its social and economic consequences, have touched the lives of everyone around the world.
More than 890,000 people have died, and 27 million have been or are infected. With lockdown measures continuing, borders closed, debt skyrocketing and fiscal resources plunging, the pandemic is pushing us towards the worst recession in decades, possibly a depression, with terrible consequences for the most vulnerable.
We have all heard the projections of the dire consequences. Between 70 million and 100 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty; an additional 265 million people could face acute food shortages by the end of this year. An estimated 400 million jobs have been lost, disproportionately affecting women. Some 1.6 billion learners have had their studies disrupted; many may never return to school.
Finding immediate and lasting solutions is our responsibility. We applaud the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank Group and other international institutions that have taken action to address the pandemic. The measures are working for some countries, but, with the best intentions, they are insufficient to address the varying needs. The world is yet to show the unity and solidarity required for a global response to a crisis unparalleled in recent history.
Heeding the early warning signs, the Secretary-General and the Prime Ministers of Canada and Jamaica launched in May the initiative that brings us together today: a global call to action to address the stress on nations and people, especially women and youth, to course correct, and to lay the foundations for a strong global recovery based on sustainability and economic inclusion.
For the past three months, six discussion groups have worked on a menu of options to address issues critical to economic survival, recovery and the imperative of building back better. Today, we want to hear your feedback and ensure that the options reflect your expectations and views before we inform the high-level meeting of Heads of State and Government on 29 September. As one expert reminded us: “Finance is a tool we designed, and we can redesign it”.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Paris Agreement continue to be our guides. I hope you will join us in seizing this initiative to consolidate a menu of options to support your work for the immediate economic relief people need, a people’s vaccine for COVID-19, and to tackle deep injustices, inequalities and governance, while we stand ready, together, to rethink a global financial system that works for these unprecedented times. I thank the Prime Ministers of Jamaica and Canada for their leadership. I look forward to hearing your views.
Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s closing remarks at the high-level meeting of Ministers of Finance, in New York on 8 September:
Thank you all for your contributions and ideas for surviving and recovering from this pandemic and building a better future, based on the principles of inclusion and sustainability, and leaving no one behind. While the virus continues to rage, we need bold proposals to keep families and economies afloat.
Today, we have heard options, including extending the debt service suspension initiative for at least one year and encouraging private sector participation, a general issuance or reallocation of special drawing rights, recapitalizing national, regional and multilateral development banks and declaring remittances an essential service. Vulnerability and the importance of taking different national contexts into account also emerged as cross-cutting theme throughout the menu, such as options that called for expanding the criteria of the debt service suspension initiative to include middle-income countries and small island developing States, and creating targeted funds and facilities, including FACE, the Liquidity Sustainability Facility, a Caribbean resilience fund and a global trust fund to help tourism-dependent States.
At the same time, we need to take action today to lay foundations for the recovery from this crisis. I am therefore heartened to hear of ambitious proposals such as implementing universal basic income and universal health care to ensure that future shocks to the financial system do not have catastrophic roll-over effects on the real economy; debt-for-Sustainable Development Goal and debt-for-climate swaps; and establishing comparable classification frameworks for sustainable activities to align finance with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement [on climate change]. Looking forward, utilizing digitalization to overcome the growing divides that have been so brutally exposed by the pandemic, including by combatting illicit financial flows which disproportionately flow out of developing economies, will also be crucial to level the playing field as we emerge from the crisis.
As aptly noted by participants today, there is no vaccine which can quickly and simply solve the socioeconomic crisis facing us today. We must think innovatively and differently to strengthen economies, communities and societies, and emerge as a united front, ready to handle the shocks and crises that will inevitably come.
Looking forward, these proposals will be presented to Heads of State and Government on 29 September, and we will convene a follow-up meeting in December to benchmark progress in the context of delivering the Sustainable Development Goals. Thank you for your engagement as we work to translate these options into opportunities. With your support, together we will craft the solutions we need to overcome the COVID-19 crisis, recover better and build an inclusive and sustainable world.