The regions in action against the coronavirus

During this crisis, the regional governments are working hard with the central and local authorities to tackle the COVID 19 pandemic. With more or less competencies, some regional governments are managing the public health and others are not. The regions have proven to play a key role as intermediates between the national and local scales but especially thanks to their proximity with the citizens, providing basic services and addressing the most urgent needs in this emergency context. The ORU Fogar members in different territories have led firm actions, which it is worthwhile summarizing and sharing. 

Disseminating recommendations

Generally, the world regions have played a key role in the task of disseminating. The European regions have strongly bet in favour of the campaign #StayHome with advertisement, but especially on the internet. The Latin American and African regions have also bet on the campaign. For instance, the Ecuadorian prefecture of Cotopaxi directed spots for radio calling for people to stay home both in Spanish and in Quechua with the hashtag #WasipiSakirin. Nearby, in the Ecuadorian province of Azuay, the provincial government organized a telethon on the radio to raise funds for the fight against the pandemic. Leaping from continent to continent, after the first COVID-19 case in Kenya, the counties started raising public awareness about the necessities of maintaining social distances and of washing hands in order to prevent transmission.

Administering the public health system

In the European situation, where the epidemic spread the most, the priority of the regions with health competencies has been guaranteeing sustainability of the health system. A considerable effort was made in early screenings by conducting thousands of tests. This allowed to reduce the pressure on the health structure, as well as to achieve a high percentage of people recovering.  But it went further than this, the Generalitat of Catalonia, had to resort to retired and recently graduated doctors or final year students in order to help hospital workers and primary care staff 

The Generalitat of Catalonia launched a COVID19 application for mobile phones. In this application, the citizens explain their state of health in a simple questionnaire. First, this enables a self-diagnostic and a home monitoring, but also the analysis of a possible concentration of cases through consented geolocation, which helps locating and implementing actions in high transmission zones. Various actors such as ECLAC took interest in this application that allows connecting the test results with each person’s medical record and take it into account when administering medical care. 

Providing the medical equipment

The regional council of Auvergne Rhône-Alpes has also been very active. In order to overcome the medical equipment deficit, the region turned premises into logistics centres in order to guarantee the distribution of masks, white coats and disinfectants. However, the most remarkable action launched by the Regional Council was the operation for which some industries of the region started producing emergency breathing apparatus. 

With the epidemic at the gate of Morocco, the regions of the country have mobilized with determination in order to stop the virus. Indeed, during the state of emergency that started on March the 20th until the 20th of April, the regions agreed to donate 134 millions of euros to the national program in order fight the epidemic and to support the local economy. The regional presidents and the members of the regional councils also agreed to give their monthly remuneration to contribute to the plan.  Some regional councils have adopted other contributions to provide the health centres with disinfectants, medical equipment, and to help the disadvantaged population. This is the case of the regions of Rabat Salé Kénitra or Souss Massa, which granted 2.3 million of euros each; or the Region of Tanger Tétouan Al Hoceima, which allocated 2 million of euros. Draa-Tafilalet launched a plan that, aside from supporting the health system, prioritizes the livelihood of the families, helps the correctional facilities and distance learning. 

In Senegal, each Departmental Council allocated 3 million of West African CFA francs to the overall project of tackling the pandemic. Most notably, the presidents of the departments provided the localities with a budget support and various products: soapboxes, bleach, hydroalcoholic gel, bags of rice, fuel. In the same vein, the departments allocated 2 to 9 million of CFA Francs to local epidemic management committees. 

Guaranteeing food 

An important part of the Moroccan or Senegalese allocations was dedicated to guaranteeing food provisions in disadvantaged segments of the population. Many regions of Latin America, which also participated in spreading information and supporting the health systems, have dedicated the utmost attention to these food issues. 

In Ecuador, particulary sensitive regarding food security and food sovereignty policies, some prefectures redoubled efforts. In Azuay 50 000 baskets of agro ecological food were prepared in order to fight hunger and provide help in every corner of the province. In Morona Santiago and in Cotopaxi, food kits were distributed to families with low income or considered vulnerable. In Pastaza, the Prefecture supports and guarantees the chain of provision of agro ecological products from production until consumption, by protecting stores and markets in the cities. 

In the Argentinean province of Cordoba, there was an extra pay of two thousands of pesos to cover the 67 thousands of beneficiaries of the “provincial social card”, dedicated to help buying food. The central Government of Paraguay distributed the allocation from the national government and offered online assistance through virtual offices for the beneficiaries of social assistance. 

Meanwhile, the Regional Council of Araucanía in Chile, asked the companies not to cancel any water or energy supplies during the state of emergency. In Catalonia, the government of the Generalitat stopped charging 50% of the water tax that usually funds the drainage.  It also stopped charging the rental of social apartments it owns. 

Against domestic violence

With the confinement, the risk of domestic violence increased. Indeed, the regional Council of Auvergne Rhône-Apes noticed a 30% increase of cases during the first 15 days of the confinement. In order to tackle the issue, the region doubled the advertisement of emergency phone numbers and accommodated 60 new housings for abused women and their children. 

Economic measures 

Along with the sanitary crisis, the pandemic had severe economic consequences that the regional governments already started to address, to the extent of their competencies and capacities. Meanwhile in the Province of Cordoba, the Bank of Cordoba agreed to grant up to four billions of pesos to small and medium-sized firms which are not eligible for credit. In Catalonia, the Generalitat granted up to 2000 euros to loss-making self-employed and declared a moratorium on tax payments.

The Plan of reactivation of Public Investment in the Region of Cusco in Peru is a noteworthy example. With this plan, the region aspires to intensify public spending to implement some of the planned public works, as soon as the confinement ends. It aims to do so, by accelerating the administrative systems of acquisition and recruitment, through teleworking, but also by already planning the work shifts of people with low risk of contagion. 

In order to support the economic sectors of Reunion Island, France, the region has released an emergency budget of 59 million euros, to ensure the reinforcement of treasury. The region has set up, funding programs to support professionals.

 

 

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