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November 25, 2021 (DJIBOUTI, Djibouti): The EU-IGAD COVID-19 Response programme hosted its 4th Project Steering Committee meeting in Djibouti, from 23rd to 24th November, 2021, with senior representatives of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the Delegation of the European Union to Djibouti, UNOPS, Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ), and government officials from the IGAD Member States of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda. The meeting was opened by the Secretary General of the Ministry of Health of Djibouti, Dr Salah Banoita.

The programme is contributing to mitigate the health and socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the IGAD region through coordinated, comprehensive actions in 45 cross-border sites in 7 countries. The implementation is focused on critical cross border areas and aims to enhance IGAD’s coordination capacity; increase access to health and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services; combat gender-based violence; improve community engagement; ensure borders are safe for trade; and promote digital health solutions. The programme particularly supports frontline workers and vulnerable groups, including migrants, refugees, internally displaced persons and cross-border communities.

Funded by the European Union, the €60 million programme is managed by UNOPS by a dedicated Programme Management Unit based in Djibouti, and implemented by IGAD, IOM, TradeMark East Africa, UNICEF and UNOPS. The digital health solutions component of the programme is co-funded by the German Government and independently managed and implemented by GIZ. The Project Steering Committee meeting brought together the key stakeholders of the programme to review the progress to date and engage with representatives from the IGAD Member States, in line with the programme’s efforts to respond to the areas of greatest need and support vulnerable communities.

The programme has already reached more than 1.9 million people across the region through implementation in the areas of health, WASH, gender-based violence prevention, risk communication and community engagement (RCCE) and safe trade. Delivering in some of the most remote cross-border areas, the programme implementation includes rehabilitating two hospitals in eastern Sudan, providing essential water and sanitation services, conducting COVID-19 surveillance and testing at cross-border points of entry, establishment and training of cross-border health committee in 10 cross-border sites and re-establishing trade corridors to fight food and medicine insecurity. To date, the programme has delivered 6.2 million PPEs, more than 177,000 test kits, 22 ambulances and 7 field utility vehicles across the region. GIZ is working with IGAD on the implementation of a regional health data sharing policy which will help to make regional digital health tools available at the Horn of Africa.

Madame Fathia Alwan, Director, Health and Social Development Division, IGAD:
“We want the strong engagement of the Member States in accelerating the fight against the pandemic COVID-19, and through the lessons learned, improve the response across the region. As we are all together in the fight against COVID, strong partnership is of paramount importance, based on the regional mandate and giving IGAD the lead role, in reducing the health and socio-economic impact of the pandemic in the region, Director Fathia emphasized.”
In her speech, Madame Fathia Alwan appreciated the members for the commitment to the success of the project. Highlighted all project objectives and target population and emphasized that IGAD complements the Member States’ efforts.

Aidan O’Hara, Ambassador of the European Union to Djibouti and IGAD, said about the programme: “The European Union is helping countries in the IGAD region tackle the health and socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our focus is on the health and well-being of vulnerable groups across the region, especially front-line workers, cross-border communities, migrants and truckers. The European Union wants to ensure that no one is left behind.”
Speaking at the opening session, Ambassador Aidan O’Hara appreciated the Member States for supporting IGAD initiatives and mentioned that IGAD is as good as the Member States allow it to be.

Dr. Layla Hamad, Deputy Director Emergency Humanitarian Aid, IGAD Chair – Representative of Sudan noted the impact the pandemic has had on the MS and measures that have been put in place and also noted the continued need for support, and thanked the EU and IGAD for the support.

Worknesh Mekonnen, Multi-Country Office Director for UNOPS Ethiopia and Representative to the African Union said about the programme started:
“I would like to congratulate all partners for their contribution to the success of the project and extend deep thanks to the EU for their continued support. I would also like to recognize the PMU team of UNOPS that has worked tirelessly through all the procedures in setting up the unit and providing guidance and coordination. This project has been a very good example of how partners can work together and support country efforts, in particular in such extremely challenging times. In the last one year we have managed to reach 1.9 million people, in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda through the implementation of programme activities in 45 cross-border sites across the region. We have distributed more than 6.3 million PPE, and supported 144 health facilities. Once again congratulations on our success, and I certainly look forward to more in the remaining time of the project.”

Dr. Saleh Bonnet, Secretary General of Health, Djiboutiwelcomed the participants to Djibouti and appreciated IGAD initiatives and project partners.
Presenting at the meeting, Rossella Monti, Senior Project Manager, UNOPS Programme Management Unit – EU-IGAD COVID-19 Response said:
“The unique integrated approach implemented in this project is key to responding to the multidimensional COVID-19 shock across the IGAD region. We manage this programme to bring complementary competencies to the ground in order to tackle the evolving challenges of this pandemic and to support urgent needs in cross-border areas across 7 countries.”

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