Building on the wealth of expertise in digitalisation and ICT reforms, UNDP team in Montenegro has seamlessly shifted to virtual space. While we maintain our presence on the ground, we remain operational and agile, working in full capacity and at maximum speed to serve the country and the people. UNDP Country Office is looking into ways to re-programme, redeploy and refocus our portfolio to support Montenegro to adequately respond to the current crisis and plan for the recovery.
We are joining hands with sister UN agencies, a wide network of national stakeholders and development partners, including the EU, to step up our collective response.
So far, UNDP’s response in Montenegro is three-pronged:
1. Procurement: We are supporting the country to meet the most pressing needs, amidst disruption in local and global supply chains. Among the very first actions, we are tirelessly working to procure:
Ø Personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers, diagnostic and therapeutical medical devices (portable x-rays, medical ventilators, etc.) and other necessary supplies for proper functioning of the healthcare facilities - thanks to the financial support of the EU;
Ø Together with UNICEF, we have already equipped three quarantine facilities in Podgorica, Danilovgrad and Ulcinj. The equipment consists of furniture, air-conditioning devices, household appliances, linen and bedding, and other supplies. This will improve and enhance accommodation capacities in quarantine facilities.
2. Digital solutions to accelerate and adapt the existing ICT systems, and rollout new tech-driven models in response to the pandemic:
Ø In record time, we upgraded the e-Social Card system to facilitate new cash transfers in line with the recently adopted Government measures. We joined hands with the team from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, and in less than 3 days developed new features in the system to enable ad-hoc payments to the poorest families, to help them through financial hardship exacerbated by the pandemic.
Ø We are connecting the dots to develop new collaborative tools for faster decision making, logistics management, real-time tracking of stock and supplies that started to flow into the country.
3. Socio-economic impact analysis: As the pandemic continues to erode economies across the world, we aim to come up with country-specific measures to mitigate the potentially devastating impact it may have on vulnerable populations and economies. We aim to develop a comprehensive, all-encompassing approach to tackle the crisis and ensure fast recovery. First and foremost, we need to identify those that might be left behind in scrambles and help them emerge from the crisis. This will entail tailored measures that UNDP will develop under the umbrella of the Country Preparedness and Response Plan (CPRP). With UNICEF spearheading, UNDP, UNHCR and ILO support the Government in strengthening risk communication and community engagement to help protect individuals, families and the public’s health during COVID-19.
While almost the whole world is in emergency state, it is important to keep an eye to the future. In that spirit, we will continue supporting artists and architects to work from home while shaping a better tomorrow for our country, through the Creative Montenegro project. Currently, we are running an innovation challenge to repurpose the old military complex and turn it into a creative hub. This initiative is an example of how we are making sure that wherever possible, our project activities continue and bring opportunities and livelihoods to those who are impacted by precautionary COVID-crisis measures.