Recovery, Renewal, Resilience

Lessons for Resilience

Consider the role of digital government in the management and communication of disaster risk
Strategic communications
legislation policy guidance

Data management and risk communications have been in a constant process of adaptation throughout the pandemic. The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) has released a summary of the main challenges and learnings for public administrators who manage data and communicate risk across Central America. ECLAC has identified digital government as an essential feature for public administration and disaster management. Consider their recommendations to strengthen the processes run by local government offices during the recovery phase.

Lessons for digital government

  • Increase the role and use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) in governmental procedures and processes
  • Coordinate, through those ICTs, databases across different offices and Ministries, and levels of government
  • Invest in the digitalization of society, from schools to public offices, to investment in infrastructure and subsidies for equipment
  • Integrate society into a feedback loop of communication through digital tools, as a measure of accountability and as a constant process of evaluation of services

Examples from Central America

  • Establish “home office” schemes for government employees during the response and recovery of COVID-19
  • Use ICTs to centralize information about the spread of COVID-19 and the amount of resources available across hospitals and clinics. Apps could also be useful to communicate risk to the public and provide medical appointments through video calls
  • Use communication apps (e.g. WhatsApp), to continue online classes during the recovery phase, or as part of hybrid, combined online and face-to-face schemes
  • Make public procedures accessible through online platforms, so that people do not need to visit public offices during the recovery phase

Challenges to address digital governance

  • Integrate digitalization of public services into the wider public agenda
  • Identify available infrastructure/resources that are available. Identify new resources needed
  • Involve communities in the process of digitalization and government evaluation (see TMB Issue 38 on co-production)
  • Generate strategies to support inter-organizational cooperation
  • See also TMB Issue 37 Briefing A on risk communications as part of the local resilience capability.
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Consider the role of new educational models after COVID-19
Education and skills

During COVID-19, schools were forced to move to remote delivery of teaching. The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) note that high levels of pre-existing inequalities (e.g. poverty) have exacerbated the negative impacts of the pandemic on children’s education. The World Bank report predicts that the “shock on human capital will substantially reduce intergenerational mobility and the likelihood of children from low educated families to complete secondary school”. The bank also presents a call to action to address the significant learning loss experienced by Latin American and Caribbean children. As countries are transitioning back to face-to-face or to more hybrid styles of education delivery, consider:

  • Work in partnership with schools, community groups (e.g. parental committees) and local social care services to identify vulnerable children and develop targeted measures (e.g. through remedial programmes) to ensure that schools are teaching at an appropriate level for all children. Specifically take into account the learning needs of children from lower-income families who may not have had the resources at home to keep up with remote learning measures
    • For example, ‘Alerta Escuela’, Peru uses early warning systems to identify students who are at risk of dropping out or who are in need of targeted interventions
  • Guide and support schools on how best to combine remote and in-person learning (e.g. the Ceibal initiative in Uruguay). To increase accessibility, blended learning recovery solutions should consider low- or no-tech options (e.g. educational TV programmes/local radio/community youth groups)
  • Design a long-term transformational plan for accelerating the digital transformation of local and national Education Management and Information Systems (EMIS), for example:
    • The World Bank is collaborating with education agencies to establish a “new generation of EMIS based on an enterprise architecture focusing on learning data”. The programme will collate best practices, tools and guidance that aim to enable education agencies to implement technology-driven solutions that accelerate cost effective educational programmes and generate high investment returns

See also TMB Issue 33 – a case study which explores the “attainment gap” and digital divide, detailing international strategies that aim to support children to catch up on learning time lost during the pandemic

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Consider the impact of remittances on the local economy and the opportunity to digitize payments
Economic strategy

Remittances from overseas migrant workers make up more than a fifth of GDP in some economies. This type of finance is usually very resilient to natural disasters, and financial slumps as those sending money home are unlikely to follow the behavior of financial markets. However COVID-19 has meant people cannot send money as they normally would due to social distancing and bank/post office closures. This impacts the capacity to send hard cash which made up 80-85% of transaction pre-pandemic. Consider:

  • Promoting the digitisation of cash transfers in local communities to support the sending and receiving of remittances as moving cash has become harder
  • Giving "mobile-money" agents the status of being an essential service. These small traders serve many times more people than bank branches but struggled to stay open as governments did not deem their services "essential"
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