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How Covid-19 vaccination campaigns help address the unaddressed

Addresses are essential for the management of cities, for service delivery, and to give people status in society. Many areas of the world, however, remain unaddressed.  

Before Covid-19 hit, having no address presented great challenges for local communities, including limited access to credit, voting rights and services. Now, during the global pandemic, new challenges have arisen.

Patricia Vivas, Physical services and addressing Expert at the Universal Postal Union (UPU), says, “Addresses were, and still are, essential during the lockdown to deliver first necessity products to people sick with Covid-19 or other isolated people. They also play an important role in detecting emerging hotspots and clusters of infected cases.” 

According to Vivas, although the crisis may have highlighted the key challenges faced by communities lacking addresses, it has also presented an opportunity for them to begin building address databases using data from government vaccination campaigns.   

“Most governments have organized vaccination campaigns using public facilities as improvised vaccination centers. Therefore there is no real need to know about individual addresses in this case,” she says. “However, individual addresses are essential for governments to know where the high risk populations are located, who should be vaccinated and when, as well as who has already been vaccinated”. 

“I would urge those governments where the addressing system is not complete to use national vaccination campaigns to improve or update their population census and/or their addressing systems. For example, when a person completes the registration for their vaccination they could also be asked to provide their home coordinates,” Vivas adds.  

The UPU’s Addressing programme is currently working with many countries to improve addressing, including Colombia, Guyana, Eswatini, Comoros, or Zambia. One of its most recent projects was with the Government of Colombia. The country, with the support of the UPU, developed the C√≥digo Postal de Colombia (Postal Code of Colombia) online tool; thanks to this tool the progress of the pandemic was monitored.  

Alongside these projects, the UPU is also working with the International Standards Organization to develop the “Assigning and maintaining addresses for objects in the physical world” standard. The standard will specify how to plan, implement and maintain addresses and corresponding address data in order to gain maximum benefits for governance and society in the long run. “There will be a ballot for the new standard in June this year,” Vivas continues. “We are working in conjunction with many national governments, as well as the World Bank, to develop this standard.”