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Economy

Cahul and Ungheni – two districts from Moldova that benefit from the programme “EU4Moldova: focal regions”

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Citizens and local communities in the area of Ungheni and Cahul are currently beneficiaries of the project “EU Focal Regions: Cahul and Ungheni, inclusive economic empowerment of focal regions in the Republic of Moldova”, which is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with some components by UNICEF, and funded by the European Union.

The total budget of the programme is 23,5 million euros, having a duration of  7 years, between 2019 to 2025.

The programme aims to strengthen the economic, territorial and social cohesion in the Republic of Moldova through facilitating inclusive, sustainable and integrated local socio-economic growth and improving the standards of living of the citizens in the so called “micro – region” area of Ungheni and Cahul, as it is described on the official page eu4moldova.md.

EU4Moldova: focal regions programme will have an impact on the regions at 3 levels:

the level of government – to improve the necessary services and the needed infrastructure

the level of private sector – to stimulate private investment, improve the economy and create employment opportunities for men and women

the population level – to strengthen citizens participation in democratic governance processes and strengthen their capacities to demand their rights, as it is specified on the UNDP in Moldova page.

First, the pilot programme was launched in Cahul on January 17. The initiative aims to accelerate systemic change through the synergy of previous, current and future EU-funded initiatives, as well as other projects undertaken by donors, development partners and public institutions. On January 24, the second initiative of the programme was launched in Ungheni.

Launch of the programme EU4Moldova: focal regions in Cahul| source: eu4cahul.md

“I am proud to launch this ambitious EU initiative. The EU invests substantial resources to involve citizens and localities in building strong partnerships based on shared values. This programme aims to improve the daily life of citizens. I am convinced that together we will transform the cities of Cahul and Ungheni into smart, inclusive and sustainable growth poles of Moldova,” said Peter Michalko, Head of the EU delegation  to the Republic of Moldova.

The target regions will also contribute to increasing the investment and entrepreneurial attractiveness by promoting their role as growth poles, but also by leveraging the smart specialisation of the economy, creating new attractive job opportunities.

Launch of the programme EU4Moldova: focal regions in Ungheni| source: eu4ungheni.md


Objectives:

  • To strengthen transparency, accountability of local public authorities and citizen participation in local governance processes in the focal regions;
  • To improve citizens’ access to quality public services and utilities in the focal regions;
  • To create employment opportunities for men and women in the focal regions and improve the attractiveness of the focal regions for investors and entrepreneurs;
  • To promote the smart specialisation of the economy of the focal regions through the development of the clustering and value chain approach in key economic sectors.

Expected results:

  • The institutional capacities of local governments from Cahul and Ungheni micro-regions will be increased to support the implementation of locally-driven environmentally compliant socio-economic development strategy for integrated local growth and development;
  • Improved and broader stakeholder (e.g. citizens, youth CSOs, private sector) engagement in the planning and monitoring of the socio-economic development strategy;
  • Enhanced partnership of local development stakeholders (LPAs – private sector – community groups) in Cahul and Ungheni micro-regions;
  • The citizens from micro-regions of Cahul and Ungheni will benefit from increased quality and availability of public service delivery and increased performance of local public utilities;
  • Micro-regions of Cahul and Ungheni will boost their territorial competitiveness and become more attractive for investment, job creation and entrepreneurship;
  • The economies of Cahul and Ungheni micro-regions will embrace a smart economic specialization development approach and will increase the business performance of their key- economic sectors.

Both the initiative from Ungheni and that from Cahul include smaller projects such as the European Union Strategy for Youth for the period 2019-2027, regarding the improvement of social services, such as education, protection for adolescents and children, childcare, as well as youth empowerment and participation.

Other initiatives funded by the EU include the project implemented by UN Women on capacity building in the area of gender equality in the districts of Cahul and Ungheni, with a budget of 5.25 million euros. The project will focus on promoting gender-sensitive local policies and preventing domestic violence.

The programme EU4Moldova: focal regions has as partners the EU Delegation to Moldova, UNICEF, Ministry of Agriculture, Regional Development and Environment, the State Chancellery, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Economy and Infrastructure, central and local governmental authorities from the Ungheni and Cahul focal regions, civil society groups and organisations, private sector and business associations, Agency for Public Services, Agency for Electronic Governance, Regional Development Agencies for South and Center, Congress of Local Authorities from Moldova, the Organization for Small and Medium Enterprises Sector, citizens.

Economy

The EU announced its support to overcome the pandemic crisis in Moldova

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The European Union (EU) will re-direct 87 million euros of funds available from other existing assistance programmes to overcome the consequences of the crisis provoked by COVID-19 in the Republic of Moldova, announced Moldova’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The assistance through the Moldova-EU bilateral programme will be provided in addition to a previously announced regional programme. The latter includes 140 million euros total funds that have been allocated by the EU to all the countries in the Eastern Partnership (EAP), out of which 30 million euros are designated to support the countries’ medical systems, about 11.3 million are allocated to support people from socially vulnerable categories and about 100 million aim to help economies recover, especially when it comes to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). “Today’s package responds both to the immediate needs of the health systems, as well as to longer term needs of the most vulnerable groups in society and small and medium-sized enterprises, which are the backbone of the economies in the six countries,”  said Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations Olivér Várhelyi.

“As part of its global response to the coronavirus outbreak, the European Commission stands by Eastern Partner countries and has re-allocated €140 million for the most immediate needs including the Republic of Moldova,” is stated in a press release of the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Moldova.

The European Commission is working with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to ensure the health systems with necessary supplies such as sets of gloves, masks and sterilisers. Also, the funds will support national health administrations to train medical and laboratory staff and carry out awareness raising measures to the wider population.

The EU has made available small grants to civil society organisations across the region. These funds aim supporting local schools with distance learning and target the most affected parts of the populations. “This is in addition to the already ongoing support through the EU Civil Society Facility for Moldova that is already providing €20 million free of charge to create social services for the most vulnerable members of the society in Moldova and supporting people with special needs to start their own business in Moldova,” is said in the same statement.

Also, the EU is working closely with International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and relevant financing institutions from EU Member States, providing a coordinated European response for the economies. Namely, the support includes launching programmes to facilitate, simplify and accelerate the access of SMEs to various credit funds, providing grants to innovative start-ups, mobilising de-risking instruments to facilitate the provision of liquidity, etc. More information can be found here.

“We greatly appreciate the assistance provided by the EU during this difficult time, which comes to support the country’s efforts to overcome the pandemic crisis and its consequences. In particular, we welcome the systemic and long-term approach, which includes both immediate measures for the health system and vulnerable persons with social needs, as well as a comprehensive programme for economy recovery,” Foreign Minister Oleg Țulea stated.

On April 8, the European Commission launched its “Team Europe” package to support partner countries in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and its consequences. It aims to combine resources from the EU, its Member States, and financial institutions, in particular the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The overall support figure reaches more than 20 billion euros. According to the European Commission, the focus is on the people most at risk: children, women, the elderly, and disabled people, as well as migrants, refugees, internally displaced persons and their host communities.

Photo: eppgroup.eu

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Society

What’s next? Optimistic vs pessimistic projections for the pandemic evolution in Moldova

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By the end of May, around 31 000 thousand new cases of infection with COVID-19 could be registered in the Republic of Moldova, according to a pessimistic scenario developed by the National Agency for Public Health (NAPH).

The average incubation period (the period between infection and the moment symptoms may appear) recorded in the case of patients from Moldova was 5.8 days, while the R0 (basic reproduction number) was established as being 2.6 persons, meaning that each newly-infected person spreads the disease to about 2.6 other people on average. If the same trend is maintained, the number of patients infected with COVID-19 will reach 31 000 cases by the end of May.

The director of the NAPH, Nicolae Furtuna, specified that the pessimistic scenario could become reality if the population does not follow to the instructions given by the authorities. “Picnics, public gatherings, meetings attended by 6-8 people on any occasion are not desirable. They are even contraindicated. Let’s be patient. If we stay at home, we will follow the optimistic scenario, otherwise the medical system and the economy will flounder, ” mentioned the official.

However, if the citizens demonstrate responsibility and comply with the measures of isolation, the R0 of COVID-19 could decrease to 1.5 persons. In this case, the positive scenario would manifest where morbidity could decrease 10 times.

At the moment, there are 965 confirmed cases in the Republic of Moldova, out of which 80 patients are serious or critical. There are 37 cases of recovered persons and 19 deaths. Most of cases are recorded in the capital city of the country – 316 cases, according to the data provided by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Protection.

The categories of patients who are at higher risk for severe illness are those aged between 50 and 59 years – 232 persons, and patients aged over 60 – 215 persons, as well as the medical personnel who takes care of COVID-19 patients.

Source: virusncov.com

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Society

Quarantined in a Moldovan village – the paradox of measures imposed by authorities

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The Republic of Moldova registered, according to the most updated information from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Protection, 591 confirmed cases, 190 suspected cases and 9 deaths because of COVID-19. The cases are spread all over the country, but most of cases are concentrated in 3 risk areas – Chisinau, which includes 39% of the cases of infection, Stefan Voda – 14% of cases and Soroca – 12% of all cases.

As Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) reported, 18 971 persons are isolated at home and 5 632 persons were verified regarding the way they are isolated.

At the same time, there are several cities and villages in Moldova where the local authorities have imposed partial or full lockdown due to the registered deaths related to coronavirus outbreaks. While the Government never clearly reported on what happens in such localities, some local authority representatives and residents started to talk about the quarantine situation.

They say that police patrol cars were placed at the entrance and exit of localities and no one can leave or enter the village or city, without a good reason. The public transportation and all public and private entities, except medical offices, post offices and groceries stores, stopped their activity.

The paradox of Balceana

People of Balceana village, Hancesti district, one of the first villages from Moldova where the lockdown was installed, told ZdG that things have changed a lot since the first day of lockdown. At the moment, all their activities are forbidden: they can no longer receive medicine packages from their relatives and they cannot perform their farming activities related to cultivating crops – one of their main source of obtaining food throughout the year.

Moreover, in order to be able to leave or enter the village, to move or pick up packages from the improvised station when entering the village, people must hold and present to the police officers a permit issued by the City Hall. However, the mayor of the village said that he received the prohibition to issue such permits for local people from the MIA officials.

“I have the indication that no permit is issued to any person, because we are quarantined. Only sick people leave the village with an ambulance and only those who are recovered and healthy, holding a medical certificate from a doctor, can enter the village.”

The mayor of Balceana village said that the situation in which people got in is a “terrible one” and that he hardly manages to cope with the complaints coming from villagers. Some villagers must pay back their bank loans. For that they would need to continue to work their lands, which they are not allowed to do due to not holding permits issued by mayor. The mayor is not allowed by authorities to issue such permits.

The paradox exists while the quarantine instructions allow short trips for acquiring food, medicines, for obtaining medical assistance, going to the funeral of relatives or farming activities. The situation got so confusing, that the officers do not allow people to perform even officially permitted activities without the authorisation that is impossible to be obtained.

The MIA response

The officials of the MIA claimed that an internal service investigation was initiated after the declarations were published by ZdG. Secretary of State of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Mariana Grama, denied that the situation is so serious, stating that people do have access to medicines and food, while restrictions are imposed because people do not follow precautionary measures.

“The permit is required for those who have to work lands. The lands are on the hills, outside the locality. […] The mayor has to confirm that a person owns a land parcel outside the territory of Balceana village and that he allows him to perform agricultural activities,” mentioned Grama.

The permits, according to the official, are not issued for persons that want to go to the doctor, as they declare one thing and go somewhere else, that being proved by the police monitoring system in several cases, reported Mariana Grama for ZdG. “People from the village want to go to other localities to buy products, they want to go to the district market, to the bank, to the capital city and I told the mayor that nobody has the right to leave the village, this is what quarantine regime means,” she added.

“I understand, human rights and fundamental freedoms are restricted during state of emergency, but this is to ensure the security of other citizens as well, who are outside the quarantine zone.”

Blocked roads in Cocieri and Corjova

Beside the fact police patrol cars were placed at the entrance of every quarantined village, in Cocieri and Corjova – two villages located in Transnistria – a part of the roads connecting them with other regions were blocked, noted the Promo-LEX association in a press release.

Source: Promo-LEX association

The association mentioned that, on the main roads, the customs officers blocked the access, while on the adjacent roads, concrete blocks  or other artificially created impediments to prevent circulation were created. “Because of access prohibition, several categories of people who imperatively need to circulate are affected: doctors and pharmacists, farmers, but also people who work in state institutions. In addition, the consequences of blocking the roads are also affecting the inhabitants of the nearby villages,” is mentioned in the press release.

Blocked salaries of teachers from Transnistria

There are eight schools with teaching in Romanian in the Transnistrian region, which are directly financed from the public budget of the Republic of Moldova.

One of the serious challenges for the employees of these schools is that there are no ATMs in the region that would allow people to withdraw cash from the bank cards issued by Moldovan banks. These cards are not recognized in Transnistria. Usually, teachers go to the Moldovan side, withdraw cash from the ATMs and then exchange it in Transnistrian rubles.
“We got in touch with the Reintegration Bureau and we hope to be able pass on the right side of the Dniester to withdraw our salaries, otherwise teachers will run out of money,” said Ion Iovcev, the director of one of these schools.

Moreover, lack of money could lead to complete isolation. The director says that if, this month, the teachers are not be able to pay for internet services, they will not be able carry out the process of remote teaching.

Funerals with high risk of contagion

One of the reasons people get infected with COVID-19 and die in Moldova is their hospitalisation in the same section with confirmed or suspected patients. That was the case of a woman from Stefan-Voda district who was sent home in isolation after being hospitalised together with COVID-19 patients. “She died in quarantine at home, but it’s known that she was in contact with COVID-19 patients,” explained the mayor of the village she is from.

The mayor claimed that for seven hours, since the woman had died, no one came to test her for confirmation or rejection of the virus and that the woman was in contact with other 26 persons. The mayor also mentioned that there is no special protective equipment in the locality for persons to be involved in the process of burial of the woman. Therefore, even more people risk to get infected.

Photo: moldova.org

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