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From the Desk of the Executive Director, Comrade Dr. Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi

Greetings from the Board of Directors and Secretariat of the Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED).

As a platform of active citizens campaigning for democratic and accountable governance, the COVID-19 pandemic put the importance of proper management in bold relief.  The alarming speed with which the pandemic spread, infecting millions and bringing economic activity to a near-standstill, affected people across social classes. More devastating in the developing economies of the world were the harsh lockdowns imposed to halt the spread of the novel virus.

Balancing the economic imperatives in responding to the virus with the health and human rights necessities, will be challenging and daunting for communities, governments and civil society.

When lifting lockdowns, those without stable incomes, those not able to work remotely, and all those in essential jobs – which is not just health workers – will continue to face the highest risks.

In the face of this disquieting outlook, the immediate priority for communities, citizens and policymakers are to address the health crisis and contain the economic damage in the short term. Over a longer time, authorities need to undertake comprehensive reform programs to improve the fundamental drivers of economic growth as soon as the pandemic abates.

Policies to rebuild both in the short and long-term entail strengthening health services and putting in place targeted stimulus measures to help reignite growth, including support for the private sector and getting money directly to people. During the mitigation period, all stakeholders should focus on sustaining economic activity on an inclusive basis with support for households, firms and essential services.

Moving forward will also mean consulting with citizens in decisions that affect their lives, including how to lift emergency measures. Participation builds greater trust in the authorities and better compliance with public health measures.

It can be challenging for politicians and ruling parties to take politics out of the equation. Still, this pandemic will not be contained by corrupt and cutthroat politics, driven by the interests of the political gladiators alone. Letting bad politics or elitist economics drive the response at the expense of health and human rights will cost lives and do even more damage in both the short and long terms. Such approaches are simply not sustainable. And they will not be sustainable in the future either. We will not be able to innovate and transform new systems when the pandemic is over, without the right mindset. That should be the most important lesson learned from this crisis. As history has shown, choices made during emergencies can shape the world for decades to come. What will remain critical is the need for collective action to build societies that deliver inclusive public health safety, economic growth, prosperity, and safety for all.

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