Support to the National Response to contain the impact of COVID-19

Situational Analysis

Iran is one of the developing countries most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Within 15 days of the first recorded case, confirmed COVID-19 cases had already been identified in all 31 provinces1. The country’s health system is under pressure and this is exacerbated by the economic sanctions. Through the increase in the capacity for local production of PPEs as well as support from 30 countries and international organizations including the UN, Iran is implementing measures to control the number of casualties and fight the pandemic. However, the impact has gone beyond the public health and humanitarian domains and has become a threat to human development and progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The country’s loss in GDP is expected to accelerate – ranging from 5 to 10% depending on scenarios, rendering a rapid increase in the rate of unemployment2. The government is implementing a National Mobilization Plan for COVID-19. It has announced significant investments on a response package, including the provision of immediate relief for businesses and households - comprising measures such as moratorium on utility bills, taxes and small loans. The pandemic affects particularly marginalized and vulnerable groups, including women headed households, migrants, HIV affected populations and other groups.

The UN system in Iran has developed a Crisis Preparedness and Response Plan (CPRP) to help with a coherent and integrated response of the pandemic on the vulnerable populations and communities. UNDP, as part of the CPRP, is co-leading the socio-economic response together with UNICEF.

UNDP has launched a sub-national 'Rapid Socio-Economic Response’ initiative to support micro and small enterprises – including women entrepreneurs manufacturing personal protective equipment – and catalyze effective emergency cash transfer measures. It will provide immediate income relief to vulnerable, and severely impacted households (including women headed households), technical support and seed funding for the government in the design and roll-out of COVID-19-sensitive social protection and livelihood instruments. UNDP, in addition, is also procuring PPEs for health facilities, medical labs and frontline health workers, as requested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Areas of intervention


Socio-economic Impact and Needs Assessment

UNDP has extensive experience in inclusive growth and livelihoods, and in the strengthening of micro, small and medium sized enterprises. It will leverage its well-established partnerships with government agencies, communities and the private sector for immediate socio-economic response and recovery by:

Designing and implementing scalable livelihoods and economic recovery programmes, providing immediate socio-economic relief to the most affected households

Enhancing social protection schemes by providing technical support and seed capital for improved and better-targeted cash transfers, including through conditionalities that can help promote precautionary measures against the pandemic

Supporting the development of standards and procedures for the government and other organizations to assist affected businesses


Inclusive and Integrated Response

Globally, UNDP leads the early recovery cluster – comprising a wide range of humanitarian actors – during and immediately after a crisis. As part of the UN CPRP, UNDP is contributing to inclusive and integrated crisis management by:

Facilitating multi stakeholders’ coordination and response

Supporting public awareness and community engagement

Managing grant schemes through area-based approaches and adopting standards of excellence in programme implementation

Providing integrated policy advice for crisis management and recovery


Health System's and Procurement Support

UNDP is the Principal Recipient for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Iran, procuring more than US$50 million over the last 7 years. UNDP, together with WHO and UNICEF, is supporting the Government for international procurement of medicine/medical supplies to strengthen its health system. UNDP is well-positioned to respond to COVID-19:

By providing procurement services for health supplies through socially-responsive procurement – leveraging global LTAs and also micro and small enterprises and women-led enterprises for such provision

Expert advice on the specifications, quantification, sourcing and quality assurance of health products and equipment

Community outreach for health supplies


UNDP has provided half a million USD for socio-economic recovery and health system support. It also aims to develop health system capacities for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.

The main focus of UNDP support is to help vulnerable populations cope with the impact of CVOID-19. It also aims to develop health system capacities for treatment and preventing the spread of COVID-19. As part of the crisis response and management, it is also leveraging non-governmental organizations to advocate for the adoption of life-saving precautionary measures at community and household levels, in collaboration with other UN partners.


Programme Area




Socio-economic needs assessment and response




Crisis response and management




Health System Support


$ 166,000




$ 552,000



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