As Covid-19 continues to spread across the world, it is affecting every aspect of our lives. It has highlighted just how fragile many of our most important systems are, from health systems and economies to education and food chains. Additionally, there is a risk that existing inequalities are further deepened, with low- and middle-income countries being affected differently by the epidemic in the short-term and potentially more deeply in the longer-term.
Leaving no one behind
Leaving no one behind is at the core of our mission, and many of the impacts of this pandemic lie at the intersection of our work to build strong health systems, push towards gender equality, and to make food systems more inclusive and sustainable. The SDGs are the driving force behind what we do, and all of the goals are affected, in some way, by this epidemic.
Poverty and gender equality
Loss of income is leading some of the world’s most vulnerable people to fall below the poverty line, we already see the first threats of extreme food insecurity playing out in the most fragile contexts. Those who do not have the luxury of working at home, are being forced to put themselves and their loved ones at risk, as they work to feed their families, and schools have been closed, leaving a hole in education, the impacts of which may be felt for years to come.
Gender equality is also at risk. Women are being exposed to heightened levels of domestic violence at home, and violations of sexual and reproductive health and rights which disproportionately affect women, are also being observed. Low-resourced health systems are already being over-stretched, leading to other issues, such as maternal and new-born health, being neglected.
How is KIT responding?
At KIT, many things have changed, and we are adapting to new ways of working. For the safety of our staff, we all work from home using online platforms to communicate. Some of KIT’s advisors are helping at Dutch health facilities, and our parking spaces are being offered to employees at the nearby OLVG hospital. Our international students now follow our courses online, in the Netherlands or back in their home countries.
We may not be able to visit our partners, clients and projects across the world, but we remain in close contact and are adapting our programmes to match their needs. By exchanging knowledge and experiences both at home and around the world, we hope to contribute to the resilience and continuity of organisations and global health projects. We are looking at how we can assist and adapting our work to share our expertise more widely, so we can help lay strong foundations on which the world can rebuild, once this crisis is over.
Examining the longer-term global impact
Many issues connected to Covid-19 remain unknown, therefore, KIT has actively been trying to engage in discussion and tabling some questions in the public domain. We aim to look behind the day-to-day news and examining the longer-term global impact, what systems are already in place which we can leverage, and what can be done to help reduce future risks and build new perspectives on sustainable and social development.
We are using our convening power to facilitate discussions and invite as many diverse perspectives as possible to engage and share knowledge.