EO Clinic support requested by: UNDP Moldova Office
Requesting activity: Collaborative UNDP platform response to COVID-19
Requesting activity type: Technical Assistance (TA)
EO Clinic relevant Thematic Groups: TG1 (Agriculture), TG11 (Non-EO Information and Analytics)
Work Order number: EOC0007
Work Order status: Completed
Work Order start: 2020 May 28
Work Order end: 2020 Sep 18
The impact of the COVID-19 crisis on a small and open economy and a fragile local business community as the one in the Republic of Moldova is expected to be significant. The crisis is transforming the landscape, new business models will be adopted, once solid supply chains will disappear, and new ones will be established. The vulnerable groups in Moldova will disproportionately suffer from the crisis and the losses due to decreased mobility and economic activity. The rising income and non-income inequalities will affect the modest yet positive achievements of the country and its people when it comes to achieving the localized SDGs. With around 1 million of migrant Moldovans abroad, and given the deteriorating conditions in many destination countries, migration is an important crisis transmission channel and declining remittances will hardly hit the local economy.
Under the current circumstances and given the unpredictable and complex conditions in which we all operate on the ground, the Government of Moldova managed to come up with specific targeted immediate response measures (for the duration of the State of Emergency) and specific short-term initiatives to support the most vulnerable people and the business community. While such measures are lifesaving for many, a comprehensive impact assessment is required to understand the depth of the crisis and provide for medium and long-term measures commensurable with the negative impact and responding to the local emerging needs. Moreover, additional robust evidence is needed by the Government to take rapid tactical decisions to minimize spread and the future losses due to the impact of the crisis on the social, economic and environmental dimensions of human development.
In order to respond to the current crisis, raise awareness of the central and local administrations, support with evidence-based decision making, and assess the impact of the crisis induced by the COVID-19 pandemic, UNDP and the Government are merging efforts to create a national collaborative platform for new evidence, to include satellite Earth Observation, big data (in particular on mobility) and other types of data in a multi-layered platform with multiple points and levels of access and visualisation of core products at national level, with the possibility to zoom in at the most granular level.
Geospatial EO data is missing to a large extent and not used in Moldova and other countries in this region for development purposes. Moreover, given the current COVID-19, EO and other new types of data is urgently required to provide for: 1) Additional evidence around what is happening on the ground; 2) Improve situational awareness of the local authorities around COVID-19 and spread; 3) Support in assessing the immediate and long-term social and economic impact of COVID-19; 4) Support in building an Early Warning System for the Government of the Republic of Moldova.
Approximately 70% of the Moldovan population in rural areas depends on agriculture for their livelihoods. About 55% of the approximately 2 million ha of agricultural land is arable, and used for annual crop production: maize, wheat, sunflower, barley, oilseed, soybean, sugar beet. Highly fertile soils can be found mostly in the north of the country and the Dniester River Valley. Here, conditions are adequate especially for the production of cereal grains, maize, fruits (apples, plums, walnuts), vegetables, etc.
In the current COVID-19 pandemic context, many of the Moldovans living in affected Western European countries (Italy, Spain, etc.) have returned or are returning to Moldova. It is believed this segment of the population is at the moment taking on employment opportunities in the agricultural sector, outside of urban areas. The limitations in mobility due to the pandemic, additionally to the influx of previously expatriated citizens creates a complex situation, with an obvious lack of overview information on the status and timing of the agriculture-related seasonal activities, and the possible impact on food production and supply chains.
The present EO Clinic support will contribute to the monitoring of the agricultural production (focused on strategic crops) and the estimation of the impact of COVID-19 on the local agricultural practices, with particular focus on HVA (high value-added) agriculture.