Kathmandu: Enhancing efficiency in transit systems and in operations at international borders are needed if the world’s Landlocked Developing Countries are to be able to build back better and be resilient to future pandemics and emergencies, says a new report launched by the United Nations on Monday.
The report, “Impact of Covid-19 and responses in Landlocked Developing Countries”, written in collaboration with the International Think Tank for Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs), demonstrates how Landlocked Developing Countries’ lack of territorial access to the sea and global markets expose them to unique ways to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“When the world locked down and borders closed throughout the globe, the LLDCs found themselves in a desperate situation with limited access to global markets, food and medical supplies and therefore were left behind in their efforts to fight the pandemic” said Courtenay Rattray, United Nations High-Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States. “This cannot be allowed to happen again. This group of countries is in dire need of more efficient transit systems to ensure secure and uninterrupted flows of goods and services when needed most. They must be supported to respond and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The report calls for open cross-border transport networks for goods and services, expedited passage of medical supplies and coordinated safety measures at border crossings so that the world’s Landlocked Developing Countries can better face future crises.
Dulguun Damdin-Od, Director of Operations and Research Coordinator of the International Think Tank for LLDCs, added that “borders are the Landlocked Developing Countries’ only gateway to the rest of the world and it must be ensured that those gates can be opened in times of crisis. LLDCs cannot be excluded in our global vision for a better, more sustainable future.”
Landlocked Developing Countries suffer debilitating hurdles in their efforts to import and export goods. The pandemic made this problem stark with LLDCs struggling to access tools necessary to prevent the spread of the coronavirus but also the near-impossible challenge of importing vaccines.
In fact, by June 2021, one percent of global Covid-19 vaccine doses had been distributed in LLDCs, in a group of countries home to seven percent of the world’s population. Only by prioritizing vaccinations—the report states—the world will be able to accelerate the LLDCs’ economic recovery and rebuild what was torn down by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Landlocked Developing Countries rely heavily on their neighbors—known as transit countries—to access international trade. The global shutdown caused a spike in prices of food and medical supplies which was multiplied in the LLDCs, as they had no direct access to commodity sources.