CONTEXT IN COUNTRY
A new phase of challenges started since the end of March when the average number of new cases per day jumped up from 20 - 25 cases to over 100 -200 cases, with the increased number of so-called community-based infections. The government cordoned off two migrant populated areas to slowdown the number of cases. As of 24 April, the total number stands at 2,614. The accelerated increase is happening at the backdrop of financial and economic challenges. As Kuwait’s largest investment destinations are the US, China, South Korea, UK and Italy, Kuwait is going to face financial and socioeconomic challenges, while oil prices are down to $20 – 30 per barrel. Taking a lesson-learned from the 2008 crisis, the government is trying not to decrease the number of private sector employees. Loss of income in SMEs as well as informal sector are expected to add to pressure on the financial sector, which is the second largest sector housing Kuwaiti employees after the governmental sector. The UNCT Rapid Response Plan, is based on evolving needs of the government, providing nimble support to provide technical guidance to the health sector for early response and raising awareness of prevention measures; analyze impact of the twin-shock (COVID19 and oil prices) on national development; support to migrant workers; analyzing gender dimensions of covid19; and partnerships with local NGOs.
UNDP COUNTRY OFFICE ROLE
UNDP's demand-based policy preparedness is provided through the Government's Kuwait Public Policy Center (KPPC), in analyzing potential scenarios of the twin shocks of covid19 and sharply declining oil prices to assess potential policy responses. Some of the support are utilizing KPPC macro-modeling analyses, which hosts 4000 variables to assess potential impacts of implementing various policy options.
UNDP and KPPC together with the World Bank, will embark on Behavioral Insights (BI)-based awareness raising campaigns, combining insights from psychology, cognitive science, and social science with empirically-tested results to discover how humans actually make choices.
The BI will be applied for immediate responses to issues like 1) better tailor awareness raising for migrant workers; 2) increasing food intake (by approximately 35%), which would cause obesity and non-communicable diseases as well as affecting sustainability of supply chain; and 3) mental health issues causing tensions and violence against women and men.
UNDP will also support the NGO network, in developing a digital application to predict multidimensional needs of migrant workers, people with disabilities to connect demand and supply sides of response support.
A series of hackathons will be launched in support of Kuwait SMEs. The objective of this Hackathon is to solicit ideas and gain forward-looking business modeling, which can be sustainable, socially beneficial, and resilient at a time of COVID19 crisis and oil price drop-down. The first hackathon will be launched during the Holy Ramadan period, to get creative solutions to address broken supply chains, i.e. through intelligent workflows, use of digital technologies to minimize wasteful purchases, etc. Another hackathon will focus on new sustainable business models resilient to the twin-shocks. Winners will be awarded with cash and mentoring by internationally renowned business practitioners/potential investors. While this is in response to covid19, this will also create innovative ideas for businesses to follow in support of SDG12 on responsible and sustainable consumption in the longer-term.
RESOURCES AND PARTNERSHIPS
As an overarching mechanism, all the UNDP support activities are aligned to priorities set by the General Secretariat for the Supreme Council for Planning and Development in the areas of policy research and analysis; response; and recovery related support.
Our response support will support the NGO Network, established by the Economic Affairs Ministry, in reaching out to communities most in need, and will be complementary to assessments done by ILO and IOM.
UNDP will closely work with SME Fund in organizing hackathons to ensure optimized use of winners' resilient business ideas for scaling and replications during covid19 crisis and well beyond in the future.