Warnings at the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic that Africa could be hit by a wave of up to 10 million cases within six months thankfully now seem unfounded, although it is still far too early to be over-confident.
Nazia has a herd of 5 cows. She has two daughters in secondary education, a seat on the Village Council, a savings account and a permanent home. Nazia has dignity, security and prospects beyond poverty. This is Nazia’s story because alongside her commitment and conviction to create a better life, she benefited directly from the UK government, and its global leadership in the drive to end extreme poverty.
The practical challenge of quickly getting financial support in the hands of people who lost jobs amid the COVID-19 economic crisis has baffled advanced and developing economies alike. Economic lockdowns, physical distancing measures, patchy social protection systems and, especially for low-income countries, the high level of informality, complicate the task. Many governments are leveraging mobile technology to help their citizens.
The world before COVID-19 looks very attractive right now. In light of the disease, mass unemployment and social distancing, a return to pre-pandemic normality seems appealing. Yet we should remember what normal was.
How often have you heard someone lamenting or even condemning inequality in society, concluding with an appeal to meritocracy? We like to think that if only the deserving, the smart ones, those we deem competent or capable, often meaning the ones who are more like us, were in charge, things would be better, or just fine.
The impact of COVID-19 lockdowns falls heavily on the shoulders of women even in the global north. Women take the brunt of housework and caretaking duties, homes schooling, working from home and perhaps looking after elderly parents, says Cherie Blair.
Prior to the onset of the coronavirus crisis South Asian women participated only sparingly in the labor market. Even though South Asia was and still has the potential to become one of the fastest growing regions in the world (post COVID19) female labor force participation rates were low at 23.6% compared to 80% for men (World Bank figures).
Even before Covid-19, the world was facing a care crisis. The plight of often neglected, under-appreciated, under-protected and poorly equipped ‘frontline’ health personnel working to contain the pandemic has drawn attention to the tip of the care crisis iceberg.
After a period of forced silence because of the Covid-19 quarantines, citizens around the world are defying coronavirus restrictions and claiming the streets
to fight for real democracy, jobs, living wages, public services, human rights and against corruption, inequality and injustice. We predict an increasing wave of protests all over the world led by different types of people defying the status quo. Unless policies change, clashes in the street are likely to become the new normal.
When countries shuttered their shops, closed their markets, and cordoned off places of gathering to help ward off the coronavirus, they did so out of immediate concern for the health and wellbeing of their citizens.
Do migrants willingly choose to flee their homes, or is migration the only option available?
There is no clear, one-size-fits-all explanation for a decision to migrate — a choice that will be made today by many people worldwide, and by an ever-rising number in years to come because of a lack of access to water, climate disasters, a health crisis and other problems.
Lockdowns have been the main measures to ‘flatten the curve’ of COVID-19 infections. But lockdowns typically incur huge economic costs, distributed unevenly in economies and societies. In fact, some governments
acknowledged that they were choosing ‘life over economy’.
‘Life vs. Economy’: A false dichotomy
As lockdowns have been repeatedly extended arguing that economy can be revived but not the dead
, it has become increasingly clear that ‘lives and livelihoods’ are intrinsically intertwined. The longer the lockdowns, higher is the risk of hunger and hence death.
Landless farmers who produce rice for the landlords of big “haciendas” can’t get more than a little pocket money from their harsh work—not enough to provide diverse and healthy food for their families. Seasonal workers on sugar-cane plantations know that they can count on only six months of earnings. When summer arrives, those whose irrigation facilities have been destroyed by typhoons, or those who never had any, struggle while waiting for the rain.
The world economic contraction so far this year is largely due to measures, especially at the national or local level, to contain or prevent Covid-19 contagion, particularly those restricting business operations, thus reducing economic activity, output, incomes and spending.
The COVID-19 pandemic is crippling the economies of rich and poor countries alike. Yet for many low-income and fragile states, the economic shock will be magnified by the loss of remittances—money sent home by migrant and guest workers employed in foreign countries.
By now, the impact of COVID19 on our daily lives has been well documented, especially in advanced economies. Anxiety about the future continues to grow everywhere. Much of the corporate news coverage we consume has focused on the toll this pandemic will take on mainland countries. Often neglected, however, is the unique position Pacific Island States find themselves in.
As of 11 AM (AEST) on 20th May 2020 the incidence of COVID-19 virus (henceforth virus) on the Pacific Islands was limited. Active cases (deaths) in some of the Pacific Islands were Australia 7,072 (100), New Zealand 1,503 (21), PNG 8(0), Guam 154 (5), Fiji 18 (0), Timor-Leste 24 (0), French Polynesia 60(0), and New Caledonia 18(0).1
Standards of comparison are not uniform across the region since testing capacities of the various countries differ widely. The low number of cases in the smaller Pacific Islands compared to their larger neighbours, i.e., Australia and New Zealand, reflect both variations in testing standards as well as their smaller population size. The smaller Pacific Islands were also not subject to some of the aberrations experienced by the larger countries, e.g., large number of arrivals from foreign countries in planes and cruise ships.
What is happening now
In the early months of 2020, much of the globe was put on pause as governments fought to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. For many, work came to a grinding halt as factories and shops were forced to close their doors, transforming a global health catastrophe into a labour market and economic crisis.
Remittances that support millions of households in Latin America and the Caribbean have plunged as family members lose jobs and income in their host countries, with entire families sliding back into poverty, as a result of the COVID-19 health crisis and global economic recession.
Aged 17, Moe Turaga was saddled with the responsibility of providing for his mother and young siblings when a family member approached him with the promise of a job and education in Australia. Dreaming of a bright future for himself and his family, he seized the opportunity and left the protective confines of his home in Fiji, only to find himself trapped in modern slavery on a remote agriculture farm in the state of Victoria.
Covid-19 is the most significant event since the Second World War. It changes everything.
It brings great sadness to many of us as we lose loved ones, as we see people losing their jobs, and as we see people around the world suffering immensely.