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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme, the International Labour Organization, the United Nations Development Programme and UN Women have come together under this Joint Programme “Universal Adaptive Social Protection to Enhance Resilience and Acceleration of the Sustainable Development Goals in the Eastern Caribbean”, supported by the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean. This initiative supports the governments of Barbados and Saint Lucia as well as the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission to ensure access to social protection programmes for people in need during times of crisis, including tropical storms and hurricanes. The global “Joint SDG Fund” is providing USD 3 million for this effort, with an additional USD 1.75 million contributions from all partner agencies.

Given the unprecedented social and economic impacts of COVID-19, the Joint Programme is being repurposed to strengthen the governments’ COVID-19 response by: scaling up existing public assistance to increase both the reach and level of support offered to those who need it most; conducting assessments to assist in determining the indirect impacts of COVID-19;  identifying those in need and respective response activities; and strengthening the National Insurance Scheme of Barbados to gauge the impacts on its financial sustainability, enhance its information management and monitoring capacity and facilitate public access and improve communication.

In the long term, this two-year effort (January 2020 to January 2022) aims to:

  • Progressively increase access to social protection services towards universal coverage;
  • Make social protection more adaptive – linking it to disaster risk management and adapting to climate change – to ensure people have the means to prepare and can access support during and after crises.

This the first joint UN initiative to be implemented in the region, supported by the Joint SDG Fund. The Joint SDG Fund supports countries globally to accelerate their progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The UN Secretary-General considers the Fund an essential part of the recent UN Reform: supporting collaboration amongst UN agencies and other development partners and promoting a whole-of-government approach. Its first focus is on social protection, considered one of the most effective instruments to reach those left behind – across many SDGs.