2020 was an extremely difficult year. What began as a health crisis that cost millions of lives evolved into a full-blown socioeconomic crisis that claimed millions more livelihoods around the world. COVID-19 brought the world to its knees, exposing and exacerbating existing vulnerabilities that will likely remain for some time to come. Here in the Kingdom of Bahrain, there have been more than 120,000 cases of COVID-19 and over 450 deaths registered since the first cases were reported in February 2020. On the economic front, growth in 2020 is estimated at ‑5.4 percent, and sectors such as travel and hospitality are some of the hardest hit in the region. Such statistics, however, only tell one side of the story.
Thanks to its early preparedness and close partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO), the Ministry of Health and the National Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus were able to mitigate the worst effects of COVID-19. Under the stewardship of the Ministry of Finance and National Economy, crucial socioeconomic measures and economic stimulus packages were put in place to safeguard households and enterprises against the impact of the pandemic. By the end of March 2021, early signs of economic recovery are evident, and Bahrain has vaccinated over 500,000 citizens and residents, making it one of the global leaders (per capita) in the COVID-19 vaccination rollout.
The report demonstrates the United Nations spared no effort to rapidly reposition its support behind Bahrain’s response and recovery efforts. While ensuring the WHO advisory and technical assistance to the Government in meeting the challenges of the health crisis head-on, the UN country team developed the Joint United Nations COVID-19 Socio-Economic Response & Recovery Framework, a whole-of-system initiative offering multidimensional support services to respond to and recover from the impact of the pandemic. Despite disruptions caused by COVID-19, progress was made in several key areas related to the UN’s work on human rights, labour and migration, public health, sustainable urban development, the environment and food security, to name but a few.