Bulletin: rapid and local solutions for the coronavirus pandemic

To help stop the spread of the coronavirus, GIZ is developing new ideas and refocusing existing projects. It is taking a wide variety of approaches.

On behalf of the German Government, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is providing support in the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Here is an overview of current measures in our countries of assignment. We will be updating the overview regularly.


Mali: training ensures high mango exports

Three quarters of people in Mali work in agriculture, with many working in mango cultivation. This is no surprise given that there are more than ten million mango trees in the country. In 2020, exports were still high despite COVID-19 restrictions – around 11,000 tonnes of mangos were exported to Europe. Hygiene training to protect around 5,000 workers was a key factor for successful exports, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The training was organised by GIZ’s Green Innovation Centres for the Agriculture and Food Sector (GIC) global project in Mali. The hygiene training is just one aspect part of the measures that the project implements. On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the green innovation centres facilitate, among other things, training in agricultural cultivation, such as in pest control and orchard maintenance. The work is proving successful – this season only one export container was infected with the mango fruit fly, compared to fifteen last year. 


Somalia: New quarantine centre for coronavirus patients

Somalia is one of the poorest countries in the world and has been plagued by internal conflicts for nearly three decades. Now the coronavirus pandemic is intensifying the already difficult situation. In order to offer basic medical services for its people, the country has expanded a health centre to create a quarantine centre especially for COVID-19 patients. GIZ is working in the country on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) to improve the living conditions for the population, develop infrastructure and sustainably stabilise the state. The new quarantine centre provides sufficient space to treat and isolate up to 60 patients simultaneously. To protect the population and nursing staff, the quarantine centre has additionally been equipped with two incinerators for medical waste. In this way, viruses can be directly killed and the infection risk reduced.


Peru: New healthcare prospects for indigenous communities

Dengue fever, the Zika virus, yellow fever… the indigenous population, in particular, has been affected by a long list of epidemic diseases for decades. The pandemic has now brought the glaring inadequacies of healthcare provision for indigenous communities to wider attention. Only a fraction of the indigenous population has access to basic healthcare. Hospitals are often located too far away to reach. On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and in close cooperation with Berlin’s Charité hospital, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is supporting the efforts of Peru’s Ministry of Health, regional governments and indigenous organisations to stem the spread and impact of the coronavirus in indigenous communities. Qualified staff and better basic equipment are not only important in the fight against COVID-19. They also provide an opportunity to tackle other epidemic outbreaks. 


New scheme promoting innovative employment project ideas in the Mediterranean region

The coronavirus pandemic has had a drastic effect on the economy of states in the Mediterranean region, by causing demand to falter and factors such as a lack of tourists. In particular, women and young adults have been hit hard by the poor economic prospects. In response, the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) has launched a new grant scheme. The organisation is receiving support from the regional programme commissioned by BMZ advising the Union for the Mediterranean on job creation and trade. With GIZ’s financial support, the programme is promoting projects with innovative ideas that are opening up new opportunities and prospects for people in the southern and eastern Mediterranean region. Up until 29 October 2020, non-profit organisations from UfM member states can apply for up to 300,000 Euros in funding to implement their project ideas. 

Further information on the UfM grant scheme and how to apply is available here.


Cities unite against COVID-19

The Connective Cities project, an international platform for cities, aims to network cities across the globe and exchange expertise. This cooperation between the Association of German Cities, Engagement Global and GIZ on the behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) was established in 2014. Dialogue and learning in the form of workshops, training sessions and study trips is designed to mobilise know-how and share experiences. 

Current challenges such as the coronavirus pandemic are discussed with a view to finding potential solutions.  In a first step, more than 40 municipal representatives from around 30 cities from the Middle East, North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and Germany took part in a series of virtual knowledge transfer events in June and July, to analyse and discuss their municipalities’ response to the pandemic. Click here to see a video summary of the event.


Online platform for corona measures

The coronavirus outbreak in Kosovo has had a drastic impact on the job market with many people losing their jobs from one day to the next, leaving them exposed to financial hardship. To come to their aid, Kosovo's government has set up a fiscal support package consisting of 15 measures. In response, DIMAK – a training and careers information centre that GIZ operates in Kosovo on BMZ's behalf – has developed an online platform together with the Kosovo Employment Agency and IT partners. People and companies can use this platform easily – and at a safe social distance – to apply for various services, like unemployment benefits, for example. Around 69,000 people who lost their jobs due to the crisis are already receiving financial support after applying through this channel. In addition to the Government’s assistance, DIMAK and Kosovo’s Employment Agency have since advised more than 1,200 startups on possible measures and helped founders to submit online applications for support.


New equipment helps business owners acquire new orders

The construction sector in Kenya is affected by restrictions imposed due to the pandemic, because tradespeople tend to work in larger groups. As part of the international Employment and Skills for Development (E4D) initiative, GIZ and the Kenyan financial institution KCB Foundation have provided toolkits for 300 young small business owners in the construction sector. All of the beneficiaries received their own set of power tools, safety equipment and hygiene products such as masks and hand sanitiser, along with training in using the new tools. Thanks to this professional equipment, the small business owners can now accept and implement work orders independently, without having to depend on a group. The new equipment will also help them acquire new orders and boost their income despite the coronavirus crisis.

To learn more about the initiative, watch the video


Pruning trees via video link

In Timor-Leste, agroforestry offers potential for people living in rural areas to improve their income. But many farmers are unfamiliar with the methods, which is why GIZ, on behalf of BMZ and with cofinancing from the EU, is supporting them with expert training on site. Even before the pandemic, however, there were some hurdles to overcome, as it took up to three days for the experts from Europe to get there. The outbreak of COVID-19 then made travel to Timor-Leste impossible. In order to continue offering high-quality training, the project is using live video links. The farmers either come together in classrooms or tune in from their fields and are instructed directly by trainers abroad in how to prune trees or perform other essential tasks in their fields. This means that the trainers can still respond to conditions in individual fields. Feedback from the farmers has been positive, so the plan is to keep using video training sessions as a way of reducing air travel.

Partnership for Sustainable Agroforestry


Tackling COVID-19 with a Public-Private Partnership 

Health care facilities in Kosovo often have insufficient safety and hygiene standards. This increases the risk of infections for staff and patients, especially during the current Covid-19 pandemic. As a response measure, GIZ has launched a public-private partnership with health care education institution Kolegji Heimerer. The company runs vocation schools and will implement these trainings in Kosovo until December 2021. The project is structured in four phases and contains emergency support measures as well as in-depths trainings for hospitals for long-term effects. Hygiene officers in hospitals will also be trained as multipliers to sustain the implementation of standards. The funding is part of the develoPPP.de special COVID-19 Response programme, an additional develoPPP.de programme that GIZ has been implementing on behalf of the BMZ specifically to mitigate the consequences of the pandemic since the outbreak began.


Quick courses providing extensive training

Textile production and tourism are among the most important economic sectors in Cambodia. More than 200 textile businesses in the Phnom Penh region have already closed during the coronavirus crisis. Tourism in Angkor Wat and on the beaches surrounding Sihanoukville has come to a complete standstill. Initial estimates suggest that 400,000 to 500,000 people have already lost their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many of these people, most of whom are young, are returning to the rural regions of Cambodia, where they are supported by family structures. On behalf of BMZ, GIZ has therefore begun providing training courses for the young unemployed people. Since very few of the returnees are expected to remain in the rural provinces in the long term, short, complete training courses lasting between one and a few days are available. They focus on skills useful in various industries, including digital literacy, sales, marketing and accounting.


Hand in hand: financial support for Syrian refugees and host communities

Many businesses have also been forced to close their doors temporarily in Turkey, where a large number of refugees from Syria are creating new prospects for themselves. This is affecting both the refugees and their host communities in equal measure. GIZ is therefore acting to cushion the impact of temporary losses of income on Syrians as well as Turkish citizens in need who are not receiving any government support. Emergency assistance – equivalent to short-time work benefits – is being provided to some 2,500 affected people who had been taking part in training and employment measures that had to be suspended due to the pandemic. Grants are also being provided to 400 Syrian micro enterprises. As these small businesses are not yet registered, they have no way of accessing state support. In addition, three start-ups are currently being assisted in manufacturing innovative medical products, while a women’s cooperative is being helped to make non-medical face masks.


Preparations for safe tourism

Tunisia welcomed over nine million tourists in 2019. This year, however, international visitors have stayed away due to the pandemic, causing severe economic damage. The country reopened its borders to international tourists in the last weekend of June. In order to ensure the safety of guests and staff, GIZ is helping the Tunisian Ministry of Tourism to introduce a uniform hygiene protocol. The rules have been mandatory throughout the sector since the end of May and cover hotels, restaurants and tour operators. On behalf of BMZ and the EU, GIZ is currently developing a range of support measures, including a series of training videos designed to familiarise employees with the new hygiene and social distancing requirements. In a first step towards the relaunch of tourism, Tunisia is one of only 14 countries for which the EU lifted travel restrictions on 1 July – a crucial move that allows the country to reopen its doors to international visitors under safe conditions.

Additional information