Child poverty in ZimbabweThe COVID-19 pandemic tremendously affected the lives of children in Zimbabwe. From food and health insecurities to school shutdowns, the children of this nation are in an economic, health and educational crisis. According to the World Bank, in 2019, 38.3% of  Zimbabwe’s citizens lived in poverty. Moreover, since schools closed down in Zimbabwe due to COVID-19, only 27% of impoverished children continued to engage in education and learning. However, nonprofit organizations such as Makomborero and Save the Children are taking the initiative of tackling child poverty in Zimbabwe amid COVID-19. These nonprofits offer hope for positive change through their praiseworthy work.

Makomborero’s Work

Makomborero focuses on eradicating poverty in Zimbabwe. This organization specifically tailors toward the needs of Zimbabwean children. It allocates the necessary educational resources to enable students to achieve their educational goals and ultimately escape poverty. Makomborero, meaning “blessings” in Shona, provides girls with an opportunity to engage in a mentorship program. The organization also funds the education of 10 students every year through its scholarship program. Recently, the organization built a science laboratory for students. Children got to practice and apply what they learned in a modern lab.

Despite the challenges brought about by COVID-19, Makomborero successfully persevered. This nonprofit organization was able to lift children out of poverty in myriad ways. Makomborero’s team donated “backpacks, lunch boxes, water bottles, toiletries, stationery, hand sanitizer, masks, solar lamps and food packs” to students on March 20, 2021. Additionally, 80 girls were also given “sustainable sanitary wear” due to Makomborero’s outreach efforts. As of September 2020, the organization’s sponsored students were able to attend in-person classes, thus increasing access to and quality of education.

Save the Children’s Efforts

Save the Children is an international nonprofit organization focused on reducing child poverty in Zimbabwe and other nations amid COVID-19. The nonprofit provides both short-term and long-term solutions. It has served children in Zimbabwe since 1983 by addressing the urgent food, health and educational insecurities nationwide. For example, Save the Children constructed a family tracing and reunification program to ensure the safety of Zimbabwean children. Furthermore, its emergency response program provides highly effective emergency relief aid to all children in Zimbabwe.

In 2020 alone, Save the Children positively impacted the lives of 246,000 children by allocating educational, health and other necessary resources to lift them out of poverty. Moreover, the child sponsorship program attempts to decrease the number of children living in poverty, which is currently more than 3.8 million Zimbabwean children, according to Save the Children.

Positive Progression and Outcomes

Save the Children educated 82,000 Zimbabwean children and lifted 31,000 children from poverty, according to its recorded data from 2020.. In general, approximately one million children are sponsored by U.S. citizens alone through this child sponsorship program. The positive progression of lifting children out of poverty in Zimbabwe, especially amid COVID-19, translates over to the achievements of the Makomborero organization as well.

These organizations address the urgent short-term needs of children in Zimbabwe along with long-term endeavors. The organizations are succeeding in eradicating child poverty in Zimbabwe amid COVID-19. Nonprofit organizations such as Makomborero and Save the Children play essential roles in lifting children out of poverty in Zimbabwe. The positive progression of Zimbabwean children since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic continues because of the applaudable service of organizations.

– Nora Zaim-Sassi
Photo: Flickr

COVID-19 Affected Poverty in the Philippines
The COVID-19 pandemic could push an additional 207 million people into extreme poverty based on predictions, bringing the total to over 1 billion by the year 2030, according to research from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). COVID-19 has affected poverty in the Philippines, an archipelagic country in Southeast Asia, with no exception. The COVID-19 pandemic is significantly impacting the Philippines when it comes to the economy, jobs and poverty incidence. Here is some information about the effects of COVID-19 on poverty and how the government of the Philippines plans to address them.

Poverty Reduction

Prior to COVID-19, the economy of the Philippines made progress in delivering national, inclusive growth, as indicated by an impressive decline in poverty rates. Poverty rates declined from 23.3% in 2015 to 16.6% in 2018. The Philippines expected this trend to continue and impact household incomes throughout the country in a positive way, particularly wages from those of lower-income groups.

The COVID-19 pandemic had negative consequences for poverty reduction in the Philippines. The World Bank projected that the Philippines’ GDP would shrink by 8.1 % in 2020, from the previous forecast of 6.9%. Rong Qian, a senior economist with the World Bank, attributed the downgraded 2020 forecast to the GDP contraction of 11.5% during the third quarter of 2020. The third-quarter contraction came as a string of typhoons hit the country from October to November 2020.

Economic Effects of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a contraction of economic growth driven by significant declines in consumption and investment growth. The pandemic has also led to profound disruptions in areas like manufacturing, agriculture, tourism, construction and trade throughout the country. This feeds into how COVID-19 affected poverty in the Philippines on different levels. The impact on the country’s economy has been severe, leading to the lowest consumption growth in over three decades. The effects on the economy began to take place in February 2020 with a considerable decline in the arrival of tourists, falling by 41.4%. Coupled with this, private consumption growth declined to 0.2% in the first quarter of 2020 from 6.2% in the previous year. Both the hotel and restaurant industries suffered considerably, shrinking by 15.4%.

The economic collapse in 2020 has also led to high unemployment throughout the country. The economy will lay off people with service jobs in several different fields. Many others will be on unpaid leave from their companies. Employment recovery can lag the country’s economic growth by six to 18 months. Estimates have determined that unemployment will remain at elevated levels, moving from 12.4% at the end of 2020 to 9% by June 2021.

Possible Financial Support

Prior to COVID-19, the government of the Philippines reduced poverty from 23.3% in 2015 to 16.6% in 2018. This was a result of steady economic growth, the creation of new jobs and social assistance programs. The COVID-19 pandemic will likely reverse the recent gains in addressing extreme poverty. COVID-19 related restrictions have cut off income for seasonal workers, entrepreneurs and low-end service jobs. They were the country’s drivers of poverty reduction in recent years. Achim Fock, the World Bank Acting Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand hopes that offering “financial support to affected firms, especially small and medium enterprises, to prevent job losses and bankruptcy, can help ensure that the recent shocks do not cause permanent damage to the country’s productive capacity and human capital.”

Social Amelioration Program

The government of the Philippines introduced a social protection program during the country’s quarantine to address how COVID-19 affected poverty in the Philippines. The government provided emergency subsidies through its Social Amelioration Program (SAP). SAP covered 18 million poor households, making up 70% of the entire population that it granted coverage to. SAP beneficiaries include 4.4 million households enrolled in the safety net program Pantawis Pamilyang Pilipino Program along with other vulnerable Filipinos such as informal workers.

Projected Improvement

Economic managers assert the Philippines will remain under a less restrictive quarantine throughout the beginning of 2021. They are hoping the economy will open 100% once vaccination levels reach at least 60% of the population. The growth of the economy could still improve and poverty could reduce in the coming years as long as there is a rebound in consumption, a significant push in public investment and great strides in the recovery of global growth. Predictions have stated that economic growth will return to at least 6% in 2021 and 7% in 2022.

Elisabeth Petry
Photo: Flickr