"EVDEQAL" COVID-19 website exported to Maldives

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"EVDEQAL" COVID-19 website exported to Maldives

New tool serves as a ‘one-stop’ resource to help people connect to e-services and information during the crisis

In effort to establish a direct and centralized resource for people during the COVID-19 crisis, a partnership was formed between the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Business Center Corporation and the United Nations Development Programme in Azerbaijan and the Maldives, to export ‘Evdeqal’ - a dedicated online platform to streamline access to services, resources and information for individuals, families, students, businesses and others during the coronavirus pandemic, to Maldives.  
With the swift implementation of pandemic prevention measures, such as physical distancing and other containment measures including lockdowns, shutdown of facilities and services and restriction of movement, there emerged a need for innovation and technology to address the unexpected challenges arising from the COVID-19 crisis and the new way of life.  This brought out rising demand for online shops, products and services and in general, online ordering. 
“As the COVID-19 crisis has evolved, the needs within our communities have continued to expand,” said UNDP Resident Representative Akiko Fujii. “The COVID-19 ‘Evdeqal’ tool will serve those in need with ready-access to vital information and services to meet their immediate needs and beyond.”  
The website, which was initially launched in April 2020, is a digital platform set up by the Ministry of Transport, Communication and High Technologies (MTCHT) in Azerbaijan in partnership with UNDP Azerbaijan in response to COVID-19, which aimed to tackle the rising demand for basic services online and the need for e-learning resources during the pandemic. The website enables users to search for local resources, and access information for vital services such as links to online stores, e-education, e-health, e-entertainment, e-food and e-delivery. Along with the latest news and updates on COVID-19 and advice on preventative measures, the new digital resource also features information, guidance and other support services, such as blog posts on new developments. 
“Homebased entrepreneurial activities have grown since the onset of COVID-19, and we anticipate this trend of entrepreneurial activity to continue beyond the pandemic,” said Business Center Corporation. “However, due to this exceptional boom, it has become increasingly difficult for such young start-ups to find their footing in this increasingly competitive and complex environment. Such businesses often seem to have markets restricted to the entrepreneurs’ own social circles and most attempts at branding seem to go unnoticed by their larger potential audience. Given the large pool of potential beneficiaries, and in identifying a real need for such a listings website, we believe that starting such an initiative in Maldives can also help these young firms find their balance in these competitive markets and ease the erratic first few months of business inception.” 
Relying on UNDP’s global experience, UNDP Maldives initially supported the National Emergency Response Centre (NEOC) of Maldives to duplicate the efforts and apply these innovative digital solutions to the local context. This led to the formulation of UNDP Maldives’ partnership with BCC and Azerbaijan, in exporting and adapting ‘Evdeqal’ to the Maldivian context.  
“As COVID-19 has exposed the consequences of the digital divide, it has also highlighted the potential for more collaboration between countries. To help people and economies recover from the pandemic, we need to significantly increase the speed that digital solutions work at scale and this is exactly what we are trying to do with ‘Evdeqal’”, said UNDP Resident Representative in Azerbaijan, Alessandro Fracassetti. 
COVID-19 has caused serious challenges for both people and economies, but the demand for digital technologies and infrastructure is on the rise. For millions of people, technology has become the only way for people to work, learn and stay in touch with their loved ones.  The situation is no different in Azerbaijan with over one million students switching to online learning and thousands of employees moving to teleworking. The "Evdeqal.az" platform has helped both people and small businesses cope better in these challenging times and we are planning to develop and upgrade it further”, said Rashad Azizov, the Head of the Department of Innovations and Digital Development the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

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