By Carla McKirdy
This report by Carla McKirdy first appeared in Africa Renewal, a magazine published by the United Nations in New York. The writer is Associate Information Management Officer at the United Nations, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
ADDIS ABABA (IDN) – As part of a coordinated approach to strengthen developing countries’ responses to COVID-19, as well as increase access to lifesaving health technologies, the United Nations has launched a digital hub to circulate much-needed information, fast.
The Africa UN Knowledge Hub for COVID-19, the first of its kind on the continent, is the brainchild of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) who joined forces alongside a network of other UN entities, to deliver a quick and efficient response to the pandemic. To mitigate the effects of COVID-19, the UN is responding to the pandemic as “One UN” in terms of preparedness, response and updates on the epidemiological situation.
The hub will help improve access to factual and official sources, while also refuting misinformation. It gathers, under one domain, the latest reputable and fact-checked information on COVID-19 that pertains to Africa. It is regularly updated with real-time data from official sources and is available to all.
“The hub will provide different lenses to the information and knowledge resources that are being generated by the UN and its partners on COVID-19 in the region, including responses by the UN and development partners, policy responses and actions taken by African governments to deal with the impact of COVID-19,” said Irene Onyancha, the head of Knowledge Management Services at the ECA and a member of the technical team leading the initiative.
These knowledge resources include technical reports, impact studies, analyses, data, presidential addresses, government decrees, news and research papers presented in a contextualized and harmonized manner for ease of use and reference.
Ms. Onyancha added that the hub is “powered by an intelligent, federated search engine”.
Envisioned as a one-stop-shop for information and knowledge resources on COVID-19 in Africa, the hub features strategies and responses from the regional UN development system and development partners, with an overarching goal of supporting African governments in capacity development and pandemic response.
The fact-based rendering of collective UN knowledge into strategic actions will guide the efforts of national and international partners.
“This Africa Knowledge Management Hub for COVID-19 is an accessible and interactive repository of interventions, engagements and resources designed to support African governments as they grapple with the epidemiological, socio-economic and governance complexities of the deadly coronavirus,” says Raymond Gilpin, Chief Economist at the UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) Regional Bureau for Africa.
Crucially, governments and international agencies are not the only stakeholders that stand to benefit from the Hub’s timely and reliable data. Its parallel goal is to improve access to information and combat the spread of misinformation, which it accomplishes by hosting, in one place, all official information on the pandemic in Africa.
Citizens will be able to make important decisions about their livelihoods, as well as those of their loved ones, guided by facts. Now, more than ever, the value of quality information cannot be overstated. Timely access to information can save lives.
Looking forward, the Hub will focus on developing and providing knowledge services collected from the wider UN system, using intelligent clustering and contextualization and leveraging both human and intelligent machine processes. In addition, the Hub will continue to provide an interactive and participative platform for collaboration, consultation and networking on important issues for the development agenda on the continent. [IDN-InDepthNews – 29 May 2020]
Image: This page with Country Data provides access to key UN data resources on COVID-19 including specialized datasets on how COVID-19 has impacted key areas of development on the continent. Credit: Africa UN Knowledge Hub for COVID-19.
IDN is flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.
This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence. Feel free to share, remix, tweak and build upon it non-commercially. Please credit to the author and IDN-InDepthNews.