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COVID-19 pandemic worsens poverty levels in Africa

Jun 23, 2020
Category: News

Covid-19 pandemic worsens poverty levels in Africa

Poverty is a multidimensional concept that seeks to measure levels of deprivation encountered by a person, household, or community. Africa remains afflicted by entrenched poverty and alarmingly high and rising inequality (Oxfam, 2019). After the 2009 global financial crisis, poverty headcount ratios had markedly decelerated in Africa. In the poverty fight, coronavirus is a big obstacle that African governments have to confront. To provide a preliminary appraisal of the impact of COVID-19 on Africa’s poverty levels, GLAFAD notes the projections by the UN Economic Commission for Africa that project that up to 27 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty by the COVID-19 pandemic. The combination of COVID-19 and a free-fall of international commodity prices of which Africa is a net exporter will likely reverse the limited progress that has been made in poverty reduction.

african poverty

The UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to end all kinds of poverty by the year 2030 will therefore most likely be missed by Africa as the current response by Africa to the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates unprecedented irregularities. In addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, most African governments implemented measures as a state of disasters, state of emergencies with some declaring health emergencies. Unfortunately, these measures have resulted in the loss of livelihoods for many people, particularly in the informal sector which constitutes approximately 85.5% of workers across the continent. However, governments have fallen short with regards to social grants that directly benefit individuals in Africa’s informal sector whose majority live on less than US$2 a day. Even in countries that have implemented social grants calls have been made over their ineffectiveness in cushioning the citizens from the harsh economic realities. This is true for South Africa.

GLAFAD is of the opinion that African governments should utilize their use of the existing social grant system to mitigate the worst economic effects of Covid-19 as the case in Rwanda and Tunisia. Social grants are effective for protecting children and women against the effects of poverty. While notable financial package responses have been taken at the national level that addresses the plights of the private sector and government-run institutions, more needs to be done to address extreme poverty that has been amplified by the income losses of households due to the lockdowns currently being implemented.



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