Canada’s Childcare FacilitiesOn April 19, 2021, the Canadian Government announced a new budget that includes increased support for Canada’s childcare facilities. The proposed financial support would reduce the average cost of childcare, granting the greatest benefit to Canada’s most economically vulnerable families. Though arranged by the federal government, the changes were advocated for by several non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including Child Care Now.

Government Promises

The government’s commitment to increasing childcare affordability is part of a newly proposed budget written to address the economic ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new budget would allot $30 billion to childcare spending over the next five years.

The goal of the sizable expenditure is to nationally reduce the cost of childcare to an average of just $10 per day by 2025. If passed, federal money would be used in conjunction with provincial funding to subsidize Canada’s childcare facilities, thereby lowering the cost to parents. A portion of the $30 billion would also go toward improving the quality and accessibility of Canada’s childcare facilities.

Presently, costs for childcare vary widely across Canada. In Quebec’s cities, the monthly cost of childcare is less than $200 due to an initiative passed in 1997 that standardized childcare costs. Outside of Quebec, the average monthly cost can range anywhere from $451 in Winnipeg to more than $1,500 in Toronto. The high prices are burdensome for all Canadians, but particularly so for the nation’s impoverished communities.

Child Care, Poverty and the Pandemic

Though not the pandemic’s most obvious impact, a lack of affordable childcare has strained Canada’s economy over the past year. Some of the strain stems from Canada’s childcare facilities and schools being closed to prevent the spread of the virus. As a result, many working parents, particularly mothers, have had to take care of children instead of working.

The pressure that the COVID-19 pandemic has put on women and mothers is reflected in Canada’s 2020 labor statistics, which show that women have exited the workforce at higher rates than men. In fact, the number of men in Canada’s workforce has increased by more than 60,000, while the female workforce has shrunk by at least 20,000.

Impact on Mothers

A large proportion of the women impacted by job losses are low-income mothers. A review of labor statistics found that among mothers ages 25 to 54 who had children younger than 12 years old, the mothers making less than $1,200 per week accounted for most jobs lost within that maternal demographic. Mothers in that group who made more than $1,200 per week actually increased representation in the workforce by almost 12%.

The same report also shows that mothers left the workforce at higher rates than other Canadian women in 2020. For instance, among women ages 25 to 54 who make between $500 and $799 per week, there was an almost 34% decrease in employment among mothers compared to a 21% decrease among women without children. This trend holds true for other earning brackets below $1,200.

While not all job loss among Canadian women can be attributed to maternal responsibilities, motherhood has clearly been a contributing factor for many women who have lost jobs during the pandemic. The fact is particularly true for low-income mothers who are least likely to have a job that will allow them to work from home. Without access to affordable childcare, mothers will continue to remain stuck between joblessness and caring for their children. The new Canadian budget and its advocates aim to solve this bind.

Child Care Now

One of the NGOs that gave support to the new budgetary spending on childcare was Child Care Now. Child Care Now is a Canadian nonprofit organization founded in 1982. The organization advocates for increased government spending on public and nonprofit childcare facilities. The nonprofit’s membership is made up of parents, childcare professionals and all parties concerned with the availability of accessible, affordable and safe childcare. Among the most pressing goals is the expansion of public childcare options throughout Canada.

On February 19, 2021, Child Care Now submitted a budgetary consultation to the Federal Ministry of Finance. In this consultation, Child Care Now made a case for increased federal spending on Canadian childcare, both in response to the impacts of COVID-19 and as an investment in the future of Canada’s childcare system.

Among the recommendations made by Child Care Now is the allotment of $2 billion in emergency spending to bolster Canada’s childcare facilities as well as the allocation of an additional $10 billion over the next three years to increase the access and affordability of public and nonprofit childcare options. When the government announced $30 billion in new spending on childcare, the response from Child Care Now was enthusiastic.

The Road Ahead

While the new budget still needs to be passed by the Canadian House of Commons, Canada’s investment in affordable childcare shows that the government is committed to the well-being of Canadian families. Should the budget pass into law, it will undoubtedly benefit the low-income mothers who have suffered the brunt of the pandemics’ economic hardships.

Joseph Cavanagh
Photo: Flickr

The Effects of COVID-19 in South OssetiaSouth Ossetia, an independent state of Georgia, closed its border with Russia in early April to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, once residents began returning home for the lockdown, cases started to increase despite mandatory quarantine for those crossing the border. South Ossetia confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on May 6. The effects of COVID-19 in South Ossetia have been devastating and continue to worsen as time goes on.

South Ossetia Divided

In mid-April, South Ossetia created a new set of regulations for all retail businesses. It required all employees to wear masks, use hand sanitizer and encouraged anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 to stay home. Despite the regulations, South Ossetia’s public was divided on how serious to handle the virus. Many citizens were frustrated with the government for taking such extreme measures and restrictions. When the first case of COVID-19 in South Ossetia appeared, the government instituted a fine of $200 to $500 to restore order and control the spread of the virus.

Cases increased to the hundreds when South Ossetia re-opened its border with Russia on September 15. South Ossetia’s healthcare system was not strong enough to handle the sudden rise in cases. Soon the president, along with many public officials, began testing positive. The Republic reported a lack of PPE and medicine. With drug and PPE prices increasing, it had to turn to North Ossetia for help. President Bibilov called on Russia to help. A field hospital was then set up in Tskhinvali with 150 beds, 150 medics and medical equipment needed to treat COVID-19.

A Failed Response

As of October 2020, COVID-19 in South Ossetia has increased to more than 650 cases. More than two-thirds of the cases were reported after the Republic reopened its border with Russia. The Republic believes that the number of cases is much higher due to many people self-isolating in their homes. Only high-risk patients were hospitalized as a result of COVID-19 in South Ossetia.

The International Crisis Group included South Ossetia on a list of regions vulnerable to COVID-19 in early May. The report included South Ossetia due to a lack of resources, support and preparedness. For example, the group reported that few doctors were able to treat patients and refused to do so because of a lack of PPE. The group also concluded that the medical staff did not have enough training to handle a pandemic. Most did not even know how to work a ventilator.

The International Crisis Group believes that South Ossetia would have benefitted from working with the World Health Organization earlier. But, unfortunately, South Ossetia refused to report vital information to the World Health Organization, such as requesting medical supplies.

In Conclusion

Overall, South Ossetia was not able to handle the severity of COVID-19, which it proved with its ill-preparedness. Most of its cases came from reopening its border with Russia, and the casualties from COVID-19 would have been much higher if Russia did not come to help. South Ossetia needs to re-evaluate its healthcare system in order to better protect its people from the COVID-19 virus.

– Lauren Peacock
Photo: Flickr

Response to COVID-19
Doctors Without Borders has aided more than 70 countries including Yemen, Syria and countries in Latin America throughout the COVID-19 pandemic by providing extra medical professionals to help ease overwhelmed medical facilities. The organization’s main goal is to ensure that medical services can continue to run while protecting vulnerable populations. Medical services could shut down in many developing countries without the help of Doctors Without Borders. The volume of COVID-19 infection rates across the world resulted in Doctors Without Borders’ intervention in countries that traditionally have not required assistance in the past, such as Italy, France and the United States. Doctors Without Borders’ response to COVID-19 has been crucial in fighting this global pandemic. 

About Doctors Without Borders

Doctors Without Borders began in 1971 after the war in Biafra, Nigeria and the floods in eastern Bangladesh. A group of French doctors and journalists created the organization because they aspired to make a change in the medical world. Since 1971, Doctors Without Borders has expanded globally and saved millions of lives.

Today, Doctors Without Borders continues to respond to emergencies such as natural disasters and wars. In 2010, the organization rushed to Haiti after an earthquake put millions of lives in danger. Its team began treating victims within minutes. It provided emergency kits to solve any condition that could potentially occur during a natural disaster.

The organization has expanded to contribute to more long-term medical aid projects. This includes providing renovations for existing clinics, creating treatment programs and setting up ambulance services.

Doctors Without Borders’ Response to COVID-19

The Guardian reported that Doctors Without Borders began implementing outbreak preparedness measures including creating training programs in prevention and spreading, helping health facilities adapt to COVID-19 patients and sending additional doctors wherever necessary to help ease surges in January 2020. In the U.S., the organization ensured that vulnerable populations had equal access to healthcare. Doctors Without Borders’ response to COVID-19 involved the creation of education programs about COVID-19. It also designed mobile testing for migrant farmworkers in Florida.

A complication that emerged around the world since the beginning of the pandemic was that other diseases and viruses took a back seat while COVID-19 soaked up all medical resources. As a result, Doctors Without Borders reinstated HIV services during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide antiretroviral therapy treatments. 

COVID-19 has created several different obstacles for Doctors Without Borders to operate efficiently. Some of the obstacles include travel restrictions, risk of viral transmission, loss of access to services and more. The obstacles have been difficult to overcome but the lack of vaccine supply has been the most challenging.

Doctors Without Borders has pleaded for the European Union, the U.S. and other wealthy nations to reconsider the stance on South Africa and India’s patent waiver proposal. South Africa and India’s patent waiver proposal would lend a hand to developing countries by allowing the manufacturing of generic COVID-19 vaccines. As the fight for immunity continues, Doctors Without Borders believes that without sharing, the world has no chance of creating global immunity. However, the E.U. and the U.S. remain set to allow vaccine production to remain in the hands of pharmaceutical companies opting for profit. 

Looking Ahead

Until every country has equal access to immunity, the whole world is still at risk. Doctors Without Borders has vowed to continue helping the world cope with the damages that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused.

– Jessica Barile
Photo: Flickr

Impact of COVID-19 on Poverty in Jamaica
The impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Jamaica has been immense since the pandemic began in 2020. Jamaica has always been a popular vacation destination for people to enjoy the sun, beaches and culture. In fact, according to the World Bank, the country’s yearly tourism numbers reached 4.2 million in 2019, twice the numbers from two decades before. However, since COVID-19 struck the world, the country’s tourism industry fell downward as fewer persons could travel to Jamaica.

Businesses, such as eateries and resorts, have experienced a significant decline in business. As a result, 50,000 Jamaicans working in tourism lost their jobs, illustrating the substantial impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Jamaica. Thus, many persons that finally overcame poverty will most likely face this reality again. Before COVID-19, the World Bank’s graph depicted Jamaica’s poverty rate at around 19% in 2018 and 2019; however, it increased to about 23% in 2020.

COVID-19 Effects on Working Women

According to the World Bank, like other nations, the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Jamaica has had a tremendous effect on working women. About 78% of healthcare and humanitarian employees and 55% of staff in industries highly susceptible to COVID-19, such as commerce, resorts, restaurants and schooling, are women.

The Inter-American Development Bank stated that women have always had lower-income and less stable employment than men in Jamaica. Now, females are suffering more than males once again, because of higher unemployment rates and business closures. Also, the need for free healthcare has risen due to school closures and households staying indoors. In addition, with less money, more single mothers are unable to purchase sufficient meals compared to males.

How COVID-19 has Impacted Jamaica’s Economy

The Inter-American Development Bank stated that before the pandemic, it expected GDP for FY2020/21 to increase by 1.1% due to more tourist visits and sales of products like bauxite. However, the impact of COVID-19 on poverty has changed this scenario.

Also, the International Monetary Fund projected Jamaica’s economy to decline by more than 5% in 2020. It also forecasts government income to continue to fall twice as much as medical, societal and commercial costs increase. According to the World Bank, GDP declined from around 310,000 in 2019 to 280,000 in 2020, showing an actual reduction of 9.67%.

Recovery Strategies

The Jamaican public system has implemented various strategies to combat the impact of COVID-19 on poverty. The World Bank states that the country has reduced taxes to around 0.6% of GDP and has limited expenditures to 0.5%. Also, the government has diminished General Consumption Taxes for smaller-scaled businesses along with mandatory costs for farming products. Jamaica also relinquished some expenses for tactical gear and cleaning supplies.

CARE Programme

Jamaica has implemented its CARE Programme, which provides monetary compensation for the country’s neediest citizens. The Jamaican government implemented this program on March 24, 2020. So far, approximately 500,000 Jamaican citizens have benefited from this initiative, especially individuals who became jobless due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Jamaica Information Service reported that these qualified persons received $9,000 bi-weekly every month.

According to the IMF, this strategy also includes:

  • Considerate contributions to persons without work or with casual employment before COVID-19.
  • Provisional allowances to persons who were working but lost their jobs due to COVID-19.
  • Funding to freelance workers whose income reduced due to the pandemic, as well as small-scale companies.

The program also assists senior citizens and persons who are ill or incapacitated.

Financial Budget Changes

Jamaica is also adjusting its financial plan to fit with reduced income, more medical expenses, changes to initial spending plans and the use of monetary supplies. For instance, the government has suspended import tariffs for essential healthcare materials. In addition, the Central Bank of Jamaica has reduced its required reserves for funds while keeping the rate at 0.5%. Doing so has helped to increase the amount of money in the economy. Also, the country has asked the IMF for $520 million to help them recover from the pandemic.

Strategy Results

These various government initiatives have significantly helped to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Jamaica. The CARE Programme donated $25 billion Jamaican dollars to assist the economy, which is the most significant accomplishment the country has achieved thus far in fighting the economic effects of COVID-19.

Nigel Clarke, Jamaica’s Minister of Finance and the Public Service, said that due to these strategies, the country has a lesser deficit than it did a decade ago with the global financial crisis. “In addition, we had accumulated cash resources of over [3%] of GDP through public body reform, inclusive of divestment of state enterprises, and fiscal over-performance,” he stated. Also, by controlling prices, the country now has more than $1 billion in reserve funds that it did not borrow. As a result, Jamaica is now in a better place with more possibilities for recovery.

Loop, a Jamaican News Website, reported that the Minister also said that some persons have returned to work due to various government initiatives. As a result, the rate of unemployed persons dropped from around 12% in July 2020 to 10.7% in October 2020. However, it will take two to four years to get back to the pre-pandemic rate of 7.2%.

According to the Statistical Institute of Jamaica, as of January 2021, the percentage of persons unemployed was 8.9%, which is an improvement from the previous year. However, the Jamaican government must continue developing innovative strategies to economically recover and reduce the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Jamaica.

– Jannique McDonald
Photo: Flickr

IDPoor Card
Poverty could double in Cambodia as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, pulling an estimated 17.6% of the population below the poverty line. Faced with a shrinking economy, Cambodia teamed up with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UNICEF to issue IDPoor cards, which give struggling families 176,000 riels, or about $43 per month. With an IDPoor card, a family can buy dry food ingredients and products with long shelf lives to ration throughout the month.

The IDPoor card is part of the “Cash Transfer Programme for Poor and Vulnerable Households,” a government initiative designed to help strengthen social protection in Cambodia in the face of COVID-19.  Based on the country-wide poverty identification system launched in 2007, the cash transfer programme is a game-changer for Cambodians across the region.

Inside the Cash Transfer Programme for Poor and Vulnerable Households

Each household has an entitlement to $20 or $30 monthly. Families with members of vulnerable groups–such as individuals living with disabilities or HIV–are eligible for additional monetary support.

A partnership between the UNDP, Australia and the Cambodian Ministry of Planning made the cash transfer programme possible. With 1,700 tablets and the necessary software supplied by the Australian government and the UNDP, local officials interviewed and registered families who had fallen into poverty during the pandemic. In total, nearly 700,000 people in the database received funds in a cashless form, either through their phone or a card.

The Groundwork and The Future

The U.N. worked swiftly alongside the Cambodian government, developing the IDPoor cards just three months after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country. The groundwork for such an agile response took the form of a 2015 pilot program that supported vulnerable mothers and children before the pandemic. The onset of COVID-19 expanded the program to include low-income families across the region. UNICEF Chief of Social Policy, Erna Ribar, noted that the expansion of the 2015 pilot occurred in hopes of “[laying] the foundations for Cambodia to develop greater resilience to future economic shocks, ultimately paving the way towards a more equal society.” As the program came to fruition, the money transfer service extended its reach to even more remote populations, some of whom were handling money electronically for the first time.

In addition to the IDPoor Card, the U.N. continues to support the Cambodian government by providing medical equipment and technical support. The U.N. has also helped the country battle the pandemic by raising awareness about COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic is among the greatest challenges in the modern world, and Cambodia believes that it should deal with it swiftly. Thus far, the country’s success in its money transferring service mirrors its success in controlling community spread. As Cambodians across the region continue to weather the economic consequences of COVID-19, the IDPoor card scheme remains a signal of hope.

Jai Phillips
Photo: Flickr

COVID-19 Vaccinations in IndonesiaAs the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Indonesia continues to rise, Indonesia falls in the top 20 countries with the highest COVID-19 cases. In March 2021, the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) initiative provided its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccinations in Indonesia. The widespread distribution of vaccines brings hope for the country’s recovery as COVID-19 has severely impacted the Indonesian economy and pushed many into poverty. COVID-19 vaccinations in Indonesia bring the country one step closer to recovery and normality.

10 Facts About the Indonesian COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

  1. The first shipment of more than one million doses allocated to Indonesia under the COVAX initiative arrived in Indonesia on March 8, 2021, as part of more than 11 million doses allocated to the country.
  2. The shipment of vaccinations in Indonesia is part of the largest vaccine procurement and supply process of all time. Immunizing the world against COVID-19 is the most significant global vaccination attempt in history.
  3. Indonesia has initiated one of the world’s biggest immunization programs, aiming to vaccinate 181.5 million citizens in a period of 15 months. This equates to two-thirds of its population.
  4. COVID-19 vaccines have been requested by the Indonesian government from several companies as well as through the COVAX initiative.
  5. Indonesia has been included in COVAX’s Advanced Market Commitment (AMC) group. The AMC ensures that 20% of the country’s most vulnerable population will have access to COVID-19 vaccines by the close of 2021.
  6. There is a concern about logistical difficulties hindering COVID-19 vaccine distribution in Indonesia. COVID-19 vaccines would have to be transported from the country’s capital of Jakarta to more than 10,000 health centers throughout Indonesia. Some of these facilities are in remote locations and have limitations in terms of logistics, infrastructure, storage and other essential resources.
  7. Vaccine storage capabilities in Indonesia present another challenge as there are specific temperature requirements in order to preserve the effectiveness of the vaccines.
  8. Indonesian people have been open to child immunization, but the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about vaccine hesitancy. There are concerns about whether such vaccines would be considered halal as Indonesia’s population is predominantly Muslim. Other fears stem from misinformation and misconceptions about the COVID-19 virus and vaccines.
  9. Indonesia aims to prioritize health workers, police officers, teachers and other civil officials as it implements its COVID-19 vaccination program. The population younger than 60 will be next in line as Indonesia’s approach does not prioritize the elderly. The logic behind this is by slowing the spread in younger people, the elderly will be protected from getting COVID-19 via close relatives. This is because many households are intergenerational, which means separating the old from the young is nearly impossible.
  10. To improve vaccine equity, the COVID-19 vaccine campaign is using live tracking systems to register vaccine recipients, monitor COVID-19 exposure and easily spot gaps and issues.

The Road Ahead

The COVID-19 vaccination rollout in Indonesia is the first step to COVID-19 recovery for both the people and the economy. With immunity, the strain on Indonesia’s healthcare system and resources will hopefully be alleviated. With economic recovery, the pandemic-induced unemployment rate will go down and businesses will strengthen, contributing to overall poverty reduction in Indonesia.

Mary McLean
Photo: Flickr

Providing Meal Kits
After Ecuador rounded its first full year in the coronavirus pandemic, citizens found themselves struggling to survive. Since the pandemic started in March 2020, the Ecuadorian government has repeatedly failed to protect and care for its citizens. It has been neglecting the sick and dead, spreading rampant misinformation, severely underreporting coronavirus cases, and most recently, allowing corruption to occur in the vaccine rollout. As a result, reports have determined the existence of more than 320,000 coronavirus cases along with nearly 17,000 deaths. Health care facilities have become overrun with desperate families and patients seeking care. As a response, the organization Kahre Org is providing meal kits and personal protective equipment (PPE) in Ecuador to help alleviate the suffering of its citizens.

COVID-19 in Ecuador

The pandemic and the blunt of the Ecuadorian government’s lack of responsibility has fallen upon its citizens, most notably, those living in rural areas. The pandemic has upended rural society and displaced many citizens. Communities lack basic necessities such as meal kits, PPE and education. The government has failed to provide citizens with information about the virus. Moreover, rural Ecuadorians, who are typically farmers, have faced an economic crash. This is because their typical markets and routes have closed to prevent the spread of the virus. Many rural Ecuadorians have had to face a harsh economic situation as they are no longer able to sustain their livelihood.

Kahre Org is providing Meal Kits and PPE in Ecuador

When the initiatives of Kahre Org, a nonprofit organization located in Ecuador, came to a halt at the beginning of the pandemic, they had to readjust their scope of work to suit the new needs that arose. Before the pandemic, Kahre Org offered community outreach. This included providing communities with access to legal services, shelters, education and provisions. The organization has adapted and refocused its efforts to now provide meal kits and PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The organization started with those in rural Ecuador and continued its efforts to frontline workers and the medical community. Consequently, the Kahre Org minimized food insecurity while also creating additional jobs for impoverished and unemployed individuals.

How it Works

By partnering with the Ecuadorian armed forces, Kahre Org was able to deliver more than 100,000 meal kits across Ecuador. These meal kits offer stability to vulnerable individuals. It meant they could focus on finding employment, recovering from the pandemic or taking care of their families rather than worrying about where their next meals would come from. Along with these meal kits came important medical supplies. This included sanitization products and PPE to further help Ecuadorians stay fed and healthy. As many of these rural communities are far from hospitals and medical care, such protective equipment is extremely important.

Moreover, the Kahre Org saw an opportunity with the pandemic to expand their preexisting Child Food Programme. This initiative provides more than 100 Ecuadorian children with two meals a day. It was able to travel to small, local communities and offer children food to minimize their food insecurity. This simultaneously creates more job opportunities for Ecuadorians who wish to work with the organization.

To further the hard work of the Kahre Org in Ecuadorian communities, the local organization extended its helping hand past rural communities to the frontline workers. The organization managed to provide hundreds of Red Cross workers, government corps, doctors and other health care providers with meal kits.

Looking Ahead

By amassing donations and formulating a thorough response plan, the Kahre Org mobilized and inspired Ecuadorians to give back to their communities. In the process, the organization was able to educate rural Ecuadorians of the dangers of the virus and how to minimize the spread and stay healthy. Through providing meal kits and PPE, thousands of Ecuadorians are receiving the resources they need to fight the pandemic.

– Caroline Largoza
Photo: Flickr

The World Bank's Projects Adapt to COVID-19The World Bank is a global financial institution that provides funding to low- and middle-income nations to aid in development. Since its inception, the World Bank has always been focused on sustainable solutions to the problems facing developing nations. For many countries and organizations, COVID-19 has been a massive unexpected barrier to the progress being made. Through 2020 and into 2021, the World Bank has had to adapt its existing projects and new endeavors to operate with COVID-19 in mind.

The Ghana Accountability for Learning Outcomes Project

The Ghana Accountability for Learning Outcomes Project, or GALOP, was established in 2019 with the goal of improving the quality of low-performing schools in Ghana and ultimately improving education equity. GALOP operates in 10,000 schools in disadvantaged areas, implementing measures to improve the quality of education and the presence of accountability. The project benefits more than two million students and tens of thousands of teachers.

Since COVID-19 struck and majorly disrupted education systems and school attendance, the project has been adjusted to remain as effective as possible. Notably, it has expanded its benefits for children with disabilities, for whom education is less accessible than ever. The World Bank is responding to the consequences of COVID-19 on the school system to provide more appropriate aid where necessary.

The Sahel Women’s Empowerment and Demographic Dividend Project

The Sahel Women’s Empowerment and Demographic Dividend Project, which has been active since 2014, is also being adapted to compensate for the impacts of the pandemic. The goal of this project is to empower African women and increase their accessibility to health services. A substantial part of its mission involves education and raising awareness about female empowerment.

The World Bank has been presented with a significantly heightened issue compared to when it took this project on more than five years ago. Domestic violence rates have increased, girls’ enrollment in schools is lower than ever and much progress in the way of female empowerment seems to have been undone by the pandemic. In response to this, the World Bank project has shifted its focus primarily to young girls and women at risk of violence. These are two groups whose hardships are most exacerbated by COVID-19. The World Bank recognizes that and has adjusted its actions to prioritize those most at-risk.

New Projects

In addition to revising and expanding existing projects, the World Bank has taken on many new projects specifically to help relieve the consequences of COVID-19. The organization has played a large role in providing vaccine accessibility to developing countries and has provided significant funding for its member nations to assist in mitigation and COVID-19 relief efforts.

Some projects, like Building Back Better, were created to provide support for impoverished communities so that they cannot only recover from the global health crisis but to maintain the progress made prior to it. Building Back Better focuses on implementing solutions that are sustainable and will be functional long-term within developing nations.

Other projects, like the Kinshasa Multisector Development and Urban Resilience Project, known as Kin Elenda, focus on problems that existed prior to COVID-19 but have been exacerbated by the crisis. In particular, Kin Elenda targets accessibility issues present in urban neighborhoods in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is providing solutions that are rooted in resilience and introducing equity to these urban areas.

In an April 2021 conference, India’s Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman urged the World Bank to continue funding at this level, which is considered a “crisis response.” It is clear that the organization’s targeted efforts are providing genuine relief during this crisis, and the countries impacted would benefit from the continuation of these efforts.

The World Bank is dedicated to ending extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity. While the global crises presented by COVID-19 have exacerbated many of the issues that contribute to poverty, the international organization has proved that it will continue to fight for its mission. The World Bank’s success in fighting the pandemic has presented evidence of poverty solutions that are both sustainable and adaptable.

– Samantha Silveira
Photo: Flickr

The COVID-19 Outbreak in Vietnam
Vietnam is currently undergoing its worst outbreak of COVID-19 with more than 4,000 active cases. The Vietnamese Ministry of Health has already sprung into action and developed a plan to make sure the situation does not get out of control. Despite the pandemic, Vietnam has managed to expand its economy due to its swift action. Here is some information about the COVID-19 outbreak in Vietnam.

Historical Context

Vietnam, like any country, is no stranger to disease and has always found pride in its epidemic response. In the early 2000s, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Vietnam the first country to become SARS free.

Since 2016, Vietnam’s hospital staffers have had to report notable diseases to a central database within a 24-hour period. The Ministry of Health is using this database to promptly track patterns of contagion within the country. This has been a key instrument in limiting the COVID-19 outbreak in Vietnam.

Current Statistics

Vietnam remains one of the leading countries in COVID-19 control with 4,809 confirmed cases as of May 20, 2021. As one of the bordering countries of China, Vietnam sprung into action when the pandemic began spreading. The first reports of COVID-19 cases in Vietnam began on January 23. This prompted the government to set up quarantine camps to isolate the patients as well as their close contacts.

Dan Nguyen, a Vietnamese citizen, had to stay in a quarantine camp upon her return to Vietnam. She uploaded her stay to YouTube, which documented Nguyen sharing her quarters with three others. Medical professionals checked their temperatures twice daily and provided everyone with three meals a day.

“It was cleaner than I expected,” Nguyen said. “The only thing that concerned me is that we don’t have the Wi-Fi here. The data is really slow that’s why we don’t have very excellent internet access.”

Vietnam had gone 99 days without any community transmissions, breaking the streak on July 25, 2020. However, the last week of July saw a 30% increase in coronavirus cases, which has kept steady ever since.

Hanoi, Bac Ninh and Vinh Phuc are the current leading cities for COVID-19 outbreaks in Vietnam. In total, 2,077 Vietnamese people have been receiving treatment either for COVID-19 symptoms, COVID-19 exposure or proven infection as of May 20, 2021. There have been 39 confirmed deaths.

How Vietnam is Handling the Pandemic

As mentioned, the Ministry of Health practices isolationism techniques, but one of its goals is to find a balance between concealment and economic productivity. The Ministry has limited non-essential vocations and other community-based activities while allowing essential businesses to continue their work. All businesses must adhere to standard COVID-19 procedures such as mask-wearing and disinfection techniques. Vietnam has encouraged its citizens to continue social distancing and only leave their homes for work, school or medical functions.

In addition, Vietnam has 123 medical facilities with laboratories that can test for COVID-19. The Ministry of Health plans to increase testing for active screening for those with COVID-19 symptoms. These symptoms would include cough/difficulty breathing, fever and respiratory inflammation. This screening process would make those who have a high risk of infection a priority.

The Vietnamese government officially closed its borders to everyone except for public officials and essential workers on March 22, 2020. All foreigners who enter Vietnam must quarantine for a period of 21 days. One can accredit this to an incident in which a carrier of COVID-19 tested positive upon their completion of a 14-day quarantine.

COVID-19’s Impact on Vietnam’s Economy

Reports stated that Vietnam was the top-performing Asian economy of 2020 with an expansion of 2.9%. This is one of the highest in the world. Economists such as Gareth Leather have suggested that the extensive and immediate COVID-19 response aided in preventing an economic recession. Leather reported, “By the end of 2021, we think GDP will be only 1.5% lower than it would have been had the crisis not happened. This is one of the smallest gaps in the region.”

Despite the COVID-19 outbreak in Vietnam, projections have determined that Vietnam will expand its economy by 6.5% in 2021. This is in part because of Doi Moi reforms that took place in the 1980s. This transformed Vietnam from an agriculturally based economy to a foreign direct investment-led manufacturing system that brought the country out of extreme poverty.

In addition, essential businesses have continued to provide high-demand exports of electronics and clothing manufacturing throughout the pandemic. Vietnam is the second-largest exporter of smartphones, an important feature of the COVID-19 pandemic which has increased telecommunication.

Vietnam’s Vaccination Goals

As of May 11, 2021, 892,454 citizens have received vaccinations. This has met 107% of Vietnam’s goal which was to have 917,600 individuals vaccinated. Though officials want at least 70% of Vietnam’s population vaccinated, the distribution of vaccine doses currently remains with medical professionals. Officials plan to purchase 150 million vaccination doses through COVAX. WHO, UNICEF, GAVI and CEPI should be delivering over 3 million vaccines to the country by the end of May 2021.

Looking Ahead

The deliverance of the vaccines provides Vietnam with a sense of hopefulness that the current outbreak will soon be a thing of the past. The country is looking forward to eliminating COVID-19 from its region.

– Camdyn Knox
Photo: Flickr

Alliance to End Educational Poverty
The G7 Alliance, otherwise known as Group of Seven, is a global intergovernmental organization made up of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. The key principles of this organization are freedom and human rights, democracy and the rule of law and prosperity. The organization promotes sustainable development through “a community of values” by convening at yearly G7 summits. Most recently, the G7 has entered an alliance to end educational poverty in developing countries. 

The G7 Alliance and Goal 5

The G7 Alliance derives from Goal 5 of the G7 Alliance’s Global Goals. The goal is to achieve gender equality. The G7 hopes to do this by ensuring equal access to quality primary and secondary education for both boys and girls. Together, the priorities aid in the path to end poverty in developing countries by 2030.

The G7’s 2021 effort toward Goal 5 includes sending 40 million more girls to school within the next five years. To achieve this, G7 countries will allocate $15 billion to support women and girls’ education in low- and middle-income countries. This movement also includes action to aid in an additional 20 million girls across the world learning how to read by 10 years of age.

Many developing countries already neglected education, especially for women and girls, before the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic inflicted a new set of conditions that worsened education reform in countries that need it most. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 132 million girls around the world lacked access to an adequate education. Additionally, only one in four countries has equal likelihoods of upper-secondary school attendance for boys and girls.

According to Save the Children, the effects of the pandemic have threatened to reverse the gains that many areas have made regarding girls’ education in recent years. About 11 million girls are currently at risk of completely losing their access to education. In Ethiopia alone, the COVID-19 pandemic forced over 26 million children to leave school due to school closures. 

Moving Forward in the Alliance to End Educational Poverty

The G7 Alliance’s commitment toward Goal 5 is one of the largest in terms of scope and projected impacts. However, the Alliance has yet to decide the details of where the funding must come from and where the funding must go.

The G7’s alliance to end educational poverty is placing education at the forefront of policy reform and international aid as countries adjust to the constant new norms that come with each day of the COVID-19 pandemic. This priority could positively affect global economics and accelerate overall global recovery and wellbeing.

– Kylie Lally
Photo: Flickr