Peru Takes the Fight Against COVID-19 Online

April 15, 2020

The website Municipio al Día was initially developed as a resource for municipalities in Peru to improve their performance and manage municipal investment resources more effectively. It offers municipal governments on-demand access to expert advice, up-to-date information about regulations, and a database of frequently asked questions. But as COVID-19 sweeps across the world and the number of infected people grows in Peru, the platform has taken an additional role: it’s been recognized as an effective tool to disseminate information on the pandemic and government initiatives to respond to it. It now serves as a direct channel between the prime minister’s office and local governments—including those in remote areas of the country.

“We are using the platform to support municipalities as they face the current emergency,” said Edgardo Cruzado, Secretary for Decentralization in the Prime Minister’s Office. “It allows us to reply to their most urgent queries, as well as disseminate information, legal regulations, and daily reports about the crisis.”

Peru confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on March 6, 2020. By April 15, the number of confirmed infections exceeded 10,300 with 230 deaths. In response to the crisis, the authorities imposed a state of emergency—extended until April 26—that locked down cities, closed borders, and restricted international flights to and from the country. It also authorized monetary transfers to regions to limit the spread of the coronavirus and treat those infected.

Since 2007, Municipio al Día has provided municipal governments with access to expert advice and information on regulations.

Municipio al Día gave the prime minister’s office a head start in answering the flood of questions about the lockdown from regional governments and provincial municipalities. It prepared responses to expected questions regarding COVID-19 in advance and collected new questions as they came in. The most frequent questions—and the answers—were incorporated into the site’s database and made available to all users. The most common inquires dealt with health, local security, waste management, and financing public services during the lockdown, as well as procedures for putting public investment projects on hold.

From Mining Royalties to Pandemic Response

The website, launched in 2007, was an initiative led by IFC and the Peruvian think tank Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, with support from the Government of Canada. In addition to offering government employees a way to strengthen their management and investment skills, the platform aimed to support local officials managing royalties from Peru’s oil, gas, and mining industries. Because the resource is accessible even in some of the most remote places of the country, it has helped reduce the gap in access to information and technical knowledge between small and large local governments.

Although designed for local officials, the website also serves as a source of information for the general population. It contains information, for example, on the subsidy program the Peruvian government has designed for its poorest citizens in response to COVID-19.

“Governors and mayors consider the site a useful tool for managing their day-to-day activities during the lockdown,” said Cruzado. “They often express their gratitude to our team.”

Peru, a country of 32 million located on the west coast of South America, has more than 1,800 municipalities located in its coastal region, the Andes, and the Amazon rainforest. The government’s policy of decentralization shifted many administrative responsibilities to local officials, who often lacked information about laws, regulations, and procedures.

“Reaching over 90 percent of the municipalities in Peru, Municipio al Día is a powerful tool that provides timely information and technical support to local authorities throughout the country,” said Elizabeth Ann Marcano, IFC’s Country Manager for the Andean region. “We are pleased to see it being used to inform the population about COVID-19.”

Published in April 2020