Covid-19’s Impact on Nigeria
Philanthropists in Nigeria have played a pivotal role in addressing national emergencies, but the scope of their partnership widened beyond expectations during the COVID-19 pandemic. At a time when families increasingly struggle to buy food due to low economic activities during the pandemic, such efforts are significantly crucial. Private sector institutions and wealthy individuals have donated large sums of money in an effort to mitigate COVID-19’s impact on Nigeria. The initiative, named Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) is one such endeavor, which raised well above N25.8 billion (approximately $620,192,307.6 at the time) as additional financial resources to complement the government’s effort.

Furthermore, Nigerians in the diaspora and other international donors contributed considerable money to support the government’s effort to address COVID-19’s impact on Nigeria. They made their contributions noticeable through a nonprofit organization called Nigeria Solidarity Support Fund (NSSF). The NSSF, created in 2020 as a “multi-donor institutional mechanism” for raising funds for interventions in the health sector, uses its funds to target vulnerable groups and re-skilling the youths for post-COVID-19. The NSSF has been actively involved in vaccine advocacy campaigns and training health care workers in Nigeria.

Motivation

In Nigeria, charitable giving has strong ties to religious and cultural traditions. Both Christian and Islamic beliefs emphasize the importance of helping others. The glaring negative impact of the pandemic on individuals and households has invited the private sector to provide assistance in curbing the large-scale impact of COVID-19. This includes the Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 CACOVID Fund, which delivers effective assistance to improving the public and private health sectors. Funds that CACOVID collected totaled $55.7 million, 5.1 million of which have been received via donations from the Central Bank.

According to a World Bank report on COVID-19’s impact on Nigeria, the strict measures adopted by the government to contain the virus, coupled with the declining prices of petroleum products, a significant earner of national income by 60%, brought hardship to most households. The Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in 2022, also reported that about 133 million Nigerians, or 63%,  are multi-dimensionally poor, compared to the pre-COVID period figure of about 80 million before the pandemic.

Implementation and Accountability

The government of Nigeria introduced a regulatory measure titled, Framework for the Management of COVID-19 Funds in Nigeria under the Treasury Single Account. The aim of this framework is to support adequate transparency pertaining to COVID-19 funds. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation containing $1 million, also supported Nigerians rebuilding and addressing the ramifications following COVID-19.

The public-private partnership model to address national emergencies is emerging as a regular pattern in Nigeria. In the second half of 2022, widespread flooding took place across the country, particularly in Benue state. The Dangote Flood Committee, which Mr. Aliko Dangote heads, helps flood victims across the country. During the late 2022 flooding incident, the committee raised a significant amount of money totaling N1.5 billion from philanthropists to provide relief and food resources to flood victims in the country. Such relief efforts are of particular significance, as UNICEF reports the destruction of 82,000 homes. This was in addition to the government’s efforts and the $21.4 million aid from the United States.

Public spiritedness, charity or philanthropy are emerging as extra tiers of solutions to national and global challenges. While citizens expect that governments assume primary responsibility, philanthropist partnerships with the government contribute hugely in relation to financial assistance to address COVID-19’s impact on Nigeria. This intervention brought immense relief to larger sections of the population beyond the scope that the government provided.

– Friday Okai
Photo: Flickr

Impact of COVID-19 on poverty in DominicaThe Commonwealth of Dominica is a country located in the Caribbean, with a population of 71,808. Despite its small population, Dominica has a total poverty rate of 28.8%, according to the most recently available official data. However, the island, which is still recovering from the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria, may actually have a poverty rate as high as 43% according to a World Bank study.

The already struggling nation met yet another problem when the pandemic hit the island, with the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Dominica bringing along serious problems for the island’s most vulnerable.

Impact on the Economy

According to the World Bank, the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Dominica started with the economy contracting by 10% when the pandemic hit the island, in large part due to a halt in tourism earnings. Tourism makes up 25% of the GDP and is next to agriculture as the largest driver of Dominica’s economy.

The World Bank also stated that COVID-19 had only worsened the economy that was still recovering from Hurricane Maria’s impact on the nation’s agriculture industry. Both disasters have likely raised the poverty rate to somewhere around 43%, while the exact number is currently unknown. 

Impact on Employment 

The impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Dominica can also be seen in employment statistics. The steep decline in tourism earnings caused by the pandemic led to an unemployment increase in Dominica, according to OCHA. The tourism industry accounts for 32.9% of total employment in the country, and 58% of respondents in an OCHA survey reported losing their jobs. A similar percentage of respondents also noted that they saw increased food prices as a result of the pandemic.

Impact on Marginalized Groups

According to the U.N. Development Programme, the most marginalized and vulnerable groups in the country are Kalinago indigenous peoples, rural citizens, women and children.

The impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Dominica was felt the hardest by women. Women in Dominica are the main income earners in 39% of the nation’s households; furthermore, 70.2% of workers in the food service and accommodation sector are women, meaning that the stop in tourism due to COVID-19 heavily impacts female workers. This would lead to many women being unable to support their families alone, and make them less likely to be able to provide for their children.

The Road to Recovery

In response to the pandemic and the effects on poverty in the country, the government of Dominica started the Employees and Small Business Programme to provide financial assistance to those in need. The program offered grants to employees who were laid off due to the pandemic, as well as “self-employed sole trader businesses” who were in need of financial assistance. For both grants, eligible applicants were given monthly payments of EC$600 ($222) if they had “minor dependents under the age of 18” and EC$400 ($148) if they had no dependents.

According to Reuters, the island nation reported administering 66,992 doses of COVID-19 vaccines as of July 2022. Although the exact number of fully vaccinated persons is unknown, the amount of doses administered is “enough to have vaccinated about 46.6% of the country’s population.” The government also repealed testing mandates for tourists, allowing more tourists to visit the country ahead of the 2023 Mas An Lawi Carnival, creating jobs that had been lost due to the pandemic.

With the COVID-19 pandemic on the back burner, the GDP of Dominica increased by 4.8%, an indicator that the people and economy are currently on the road to recovery. The U.S. Peace Corps also welcomed back volunteers in the Eastern Caribbean in 2021, a sign of hope for the people who have suffered from disaster after disaster.

– Mohammad Samhouri
Photo: Flickr

 COVID-19’s Impact on the Sustainable Development Goals
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are 17 goals that the United Nations Department of Social Affairs created in 2015 to set up a path for countries to follow to end poverty, improve health and education, create economic growth and reduce inequality by 2030. Disruption of these goals occurred with the emergence of COVID-19 in 2019. COVID-19’s impact on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) means that the following goals are in need of even more assistance. The U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs is working with countries to accomplish the following 17 goals:

  1. “End poverty in all forms.”
  2. End hunger and food insecurity, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
  3. Ensure health and well-being for all ages.
  4. Ensure quality, inclusive and equitable education for all with lifelong learning opportunities.
  5. “Achieve gender equality and empower all women.”
  6. Ensure sustainability and availability of clean water and sanitation.
  7. Ensure access to reliable, affordable and sustainable clean energy.
  8. Promote sustainable economic growth with productive, decent employment for all.
  9. Build resilient infrastructure with an emphasis on industry and innovation.
  10. Reduce inequalities among countries.
  11. Make sustainable, inclusive cities and communities.
  12. Ensure responsible, sustainable consumption and production.
  13. “Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.”
  14. Sustainably conserve the oceans, seas and marine resources.
  15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of life on land, combat deforestation and halt biodiversity loss.
  16. Promote peaceful, inclusive societies for sustainable development and provide justice for all using effective, accountable and inclusive institutions.
  17. Strengthen the means for implementing and revitalizing the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development.

The 2030 Agenda

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a plan of action that seeks to create a strong, peaceful planet with a main focus on eradicating poverty. Many consider it the “greatest global challenge and indispensable requirement for sustainable development.” This 2030 agenda demonstrates the targets set out to accomplish in 15 years that involve economic, environmental and social empowerment. The 17 SDGs are associated with 169 associated targets that world leaders pledged to work on. These goals and targets came into effect on January 1, 2016, to guide countries in achieving the SDGs by 2030. However, COVID-19’s impact poses serious concerns for reaching the SDG goals established in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Impact of COVID-19 on the Sustainable Development Goals

The SDG Summit in September 2022 revisited the 2030 agenda to review the status of the 17 SDGs. The Summit noted that COVID-19’s impact on the SDGs has been huge as each goal experienced setbacks. The pandemic erased more than four years of progress against poverty (SDG 1) and one out of 10 people suffers from hunger as food security increases worldwide (SDG 2). Additionally, COVID-19 infected more than 500 million people worldwide and led to 15 million deaths (SDG 3). It also disrupted health services in 92% of countries and stopped progress toward universal health coverage (SDG 3). Global life expectancy and immunization coverage have also decreased (SDG 3). Meanwhile, the global learning crisis increased as 147 million children missed in-person school (SDG 4) and women accounted for 45% of global employment losses in 2020 due to the pandemic (SDG 5).

As of 2019, more than 733 million people lived in countries with high levels of water stress (SDG 6). Additionally, new waves of COVID-19 impacted the global economic recovery and global unemployment will remain above the pre-pandemic level until 2023 if not longer (SDG 8). The passenger airline industry experienced a loss of half its customers after 2019 (SDG 9). The pandemic caused the first rise in income inequality between countries in a generation (SDG 10). The pandemic led to 90% of the world’s fishers who have employment in small-scale fisheries in need of accelerated support (SDG 14). Meanwhile, the COVID-19 recovery spending has hugely neglected biodiversity (SDG 15). Developing countries face obstacles during the pandemic recovery because of the rising debt burdens (SDG 17).

COVID-19 and Poverty

According to the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition’s assessment of the world before COVID-19 in comparison to the world two years into the global pandemic, COVID-19 has pushed the target to meet the SDGs back to nearly two decades. The time to accomplish the SDG goals has changed from 2030 to 2092. Before COVID-19, one out of 45 people worldwide needed humanitarian assistance but now one in every 28 people worldwide is in need of humanitarian assistance. In regard to poverty, the pandemic increased the number of people living in poverty from 650 million worldwide to 700 million.

Moving Forward

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Congress allocated $18 billion to emergency COVID-19 international response funds. This money goes to support humanitarian and global health needs around the world. In addition, USAID and the U.S. State Department committed more than $1.6 billion to emergency assistance in more than 120 countries that are considered the most at-risk facing the pandemic. The money protects health care facilities, supports laboratory work, disease-surveillance and addresses the secondary impacts of the pandemic like increased hunger and poverty. The United Nations created a $10.3 billion campaign to support testing and laboratory needs in 60 of the world’s vulnerable nations.

The World Bank has also provided $160 billion to support 100 developing countries as they respond to the pandemic’s social, economic and health impacts. Other entities aiding countries experiencing crises due to COVID-19’s impact on the SDGs are private philanthropy and foundations like the COVID-19 Solidarity Fund, which has raised more than $246 million for COVID-19 preparation and response efforts. In July 2022, The High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development pushed for a new, accelerated plan in order to progress toward the SDGs after COVID-19. With the help of U.S. aid programs, global and multilateral institutions, private philanthropy and foundations, aid is available and increasing with the hope that the world will achieve the 17 SDGs despite COVID-19’s impact on the Sustainable Development Goals.

– Arden Schraff
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Impact of COVID-19 on Poverty in Malawi
The COVID-19 pandemic displayed a significant impact on the world’s economic situation and presented numerous challenges for several countries. One such country is Malawi, located in the Southern part of Africa. In 2020, Malawi stood at 174 from a sum of 189 countries on the Human Development Index. This article delves deeper into the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Malawi in terms of economic activity, education and food security.

Economy

In response to the pandemic, several governments around the world adopted restriction measures on imports and exports. Such safety measures displayed numerous ramifications on Malawi’s economy. This is especially since it heavily relies on imports pertinent to energy, agriculture and health among others. For instance, 80% of the overall population is employed by the agricultural sector, which also accounts for 30% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Scarce availability of such rudimentary resources caused the cost of living to increase, and in 2020, 17% of the general public lived below the poverty line. One can attribute such a decline in Malawi’s economic activity to heightened government spending during the pandemic, which accounted for $345 million. In 2020, the fiscal deficit stood at 7.7%, and economic growth declined to 1.7% compared to 5.7% in 2019.

To help curb the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Malawi, the country’s government launched cash aid for affected households and small-sized business entities. The cash aid encapsulates aiding around 1 million eligible households and businesses with $40 monthly payments, equivalent to 35,000 Malawi Kwacha.

Education

The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic forced many countries to shift from traditional to virtual education. This shift placed much emphasis on access to technological facilities among pupils. Increased poverty rates in Malawi, impeded learners’ ability to access online education due to limited internet facilities. According to UNICEF, COVID-19 caused students’ performance to plummet across the country. As a result, the Malawi government contracted with Telecom Network Malawi (TNM). TLM is an internet company, which, as part of the agreement, provided free unlimited internet packages to students. This agreement enabled learners across all different levels to obtain equal access to online education, especially since COVID-19 halted the education for 5.4 million students from both schools and universities.

Food Security

The impact of COVID-19 economic growth and poverty in Malawi yielded devastating results for the overall population. The outbreak of COVID-19 contributed to widespread disproportionate food insecurity. One can primarily attribute challenges relevant to nutritional support to rising poverty and declining agricultural productivity. To mitigate against food insecurity, UNICEF for instance, supported the government of Malawi in the delivery of adequate nutritional support. Other efforts to curtail hunger include World Food Programme assistance (WFP). Through funding via USAID, WFP provides financial and nutritional support to 382,000 food-deprived Malawians. Efforts such as those, assist the Malawian people to recover and survive in the midst of a food crisis, as well as allow the general public to lead healthy and sustainable lives.

The emergence of the pandemic on the global level, contributed to increased poverty and unemployment rates, alongside a declining economy. Measures and initiatives such as those that the WFP and government implemented enable the nation to undergrow economic recovery, as well as improve the living conditions across the country.

– Lisa Dzuwa
Photo: Unsplash

Impact of COVID-19 on Poverty in Jordan
Though the pandemic left no one unscathed, it hit impoverished people in developing countries harder with poverty rates skyrocketing, social tensions brewing and education systems crumbling. Jordan, a Middle Eastern country, faced immediate effects. The World Bank is taking action to address the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Jordan.

Rising Poverty Rates in Jordan

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Jordan, it had a prompt effect on poverty rates. At the peak of the pandemic, according to the World Bank, there was a 38% increase in poverty rates among Jordanians, with respect to the national poverty line of 67 Jordanian dinars per person per month. Regarding Syrian refugees in Jordan, the number of Syrians living under the national poverty line rose by 18%. This percentage is lower than the poverty rate among Jordanians likely because pre-pandemic, “many Syrians were already below the poverty line, limiting how many more could fall into poverty,” the World Bank explains.

Other Impacts

As jobs and resources became scarce, so did social tensions. The World Bank reports that during the lockdowns implemented, reports of domestic violence rose. Moreover, with school shutdowns, children faced difficulty accessing education, either left to attend school virtually or unable to continue their studies at all due to a  lack of access to the internet and technology.

Due to the impacts of the pandemic, in 2020, unemployment rates in Jordan reached a high of 25% for the general population and exceeded 50% among the youth.

As time went on, these difficulties further harmed Jordan’s economic state. With a declining job market, tensions rising and educational disparity, Jordan’s GDP declined by 1.6% from 2019 to 2020.

Hunger in Jordan

In 2022, the Global Hunger Index gives Jordan a score of 10.6, an increase of 1.8 points from 2020, equating to a moderate level of hunger. This ranks Jordan 53rd out of 121 countries in terms of hunger. In 2020, Jordan scored even better — 8.8, which equates to a low level of hunger. In terms of hunger levels, GHI indicates the severity of hunger in a country, with 100 representing the most severe levels of hunger and zero representing no hunger. The number of undernourished Jordanians rose to almost 17% in 2022, up from 6% in 2014.

In 2022, Jordan’s GHI (10.6) dropped below its pre-pandemic score — 0.2 points lower than in 2000 (10.8), according to the World Bank. Meaning, following the pandemic, hunger severity levels in Jordan are still lower than two decades ago.

Recovery in Jordan

Ultimately, following the pandemic, Jordan’s poor faced increased rates of malnourishment while disadvantaged youths faced education gaps and the working class dealt with unemployment and job scarcity. Yet, in 2022, with the help of emergency relief, Jordan is on its way to rebuilding itself.

On March 22, 2022, the World Bank approved $350 million worth of added funding for Jordan’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Project to provide cash transfer support for Jordan’s poor and those most negatively affected by COVID-19. The World Bank initially provided the first round of funding of $20 million to Jordan in April 2020.

These cash transfers enable low-income households in Jordan to meet their basic needs. This means households can put their income toward health and education services, both of which will aid in developing Jordan’s human capital.

While COVID-19 imposed some of the direst consequences, the world is recovering and developing countries like Jordan are back on track to reduce poverty and build their economies up.

With support from other countries and aid from the World Bank, the world’s poor can continue to progress. Though these are positive indicators of Jordan’s comeback, more aid is necessary to resolve the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Jordan.

– Micaella Balderrama
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

COVID-19’s Impact on Gambia
Gambia is currently classified as one of the least developed countries in the world with a GDP per capita of $835 in 2021 and more than 50% of the country’s population living in poverty in 2022, the World Bank reports. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated Gambia’s economic and healthcare-related problems, which prompted the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to provide the country with about $21 million worth of Special Drawing Rights emergency funding in 2020 to keep the nation from collapsing. COVID-19’s impact on Gambia is significant, but not irreversible.

Economic Problems

Gambia is the smallest country within mainland Africa and lacks economic diversity because of its heavy reliance upon its agricultural sector, which accounts for 30% of Gambia’s GDP. In Gambia, 70% of the labor force relies upon crops and livestock in order to secure their livelihoods.

Gambia’s economy is also reliant upon its service sector and hospitality industry as its abundant wildlife and attractive coastline make the country a desirable tourist destination. The pandemic severely affected Gambia and exacerbated the country’s economic problems by bringing a halt to industries and putting a strain upon its fragile healthcare system and limited resources. COVID-19’s impact on Gambia is still ongoing as Gambia’s tourism industry is struggling to rebound to pre-pandemic success.

The Impact on Agriculture

COVID-19’s impact on Gambia exposed how sensitive Gambia’s food systems are to external shocks. The pandemic brought to light Gambia’s heavy reliance upon its vulnerable agricultural economy and highlighted a need for more sustainable investments in rural and agricultural development. The transition to a more resilient and environmentally sustainable food system would likely strengthen Gambia’s socioeconomic landscape and protect Gambia against future crises. In 2021, more than 13% of Gambia’s population experienced food insecurity, and currently, more than 10% of the population suffers from acute malnourishment.

The pandemic magnified food insecurity in the nation because Gambia is a net food importer country. As a result, supply chain constraints and rising global food prices hit the country especially hard. COVID-19’s impact on Gambia in 2020 is estimated to have increased poverty in urban areas by about 5% and 92% of households nationwide experienced a loss in total income by August 2020.

Recovery

Gambia is continuing to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Russia-Ukraine conflict is expected to affect this recovery by driving up the cost of resources that Gambia imports. Gambia relies on imports for important resources such as fertilizer, food and fuel. As the prices of these resources rise, these imports become more difficult for Gambia to obtain. Despite these challenges, Gambia can potentially achieve economic growth and rebound from the pandemic in the coming years if its leaders adopt new governmental reforms.

Strengthening the Agricultural Sector

In November 2021, Gambia secured $40 million through the World Bank for the Gambia Inclusive and Resilient Agricultural Value Chain Development Project (GIRAV).

The GIRAV project supports Gambia’s national goal of poverty reduction by strengthening food and agricultural production through improved value chain coordination. This process entails a shift from subsistence agriculture to market-oriented agriculture and aims to address constraints in Gambia’s agricultural supply chain. GIRAV is expected to strengthen the livelihoods of about 50,000 farmers. To reduce poverty among the most vulnerable groups, women will account for at least half of the project beneficiaries and Gambia’s youth will account for 30% of beneficiaries.

Through a focus on climate-smart agriculture, the project aims to increase resilience in the agricultural sector. Apart from boosting income generation among Gambians, the project will also reduce food insecurity. GIRAV and future investments of this nature show promise for Gambia and are strategies that set the stage for a country-wide recovery from the effects of COVID-19. Gambia’s government has the potential to improve the welfare of its people and accelerate economic growth by adopting new economic policies and investing in its future.

– Dylan Priday
Photo: Flickr

Mental Health in Chile
Depression and anxiety have risen in post-COVID-19 Chile. Prolonged confinement, uncertainty and lack of social contact triggered a dramatic increase in these pathologies. However, these frightening figures have made these diseases visible at levels never seen before, which is the first step to achieving important changes.

Depression and Anxiety on the Rise

Mental health is often a silenced topic in Chile, as well as in most parts of the world. One can see the unequal treatment that patients suffering from mental illness compared to physical illnesses received by the lack of services dedicated to these and the discrimination that mentally ill individuals have suffered. These are diseases that the media has traditionally not highlighted and that many treat as minor problems. Undoubtedly, this generates mistrust on the part of the affected person when seeking help.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, depression and anxiety are some of the most worrying results of the lockdown. A study that the Catholic University of Chile conducted, in collaboration with the Chilean Safety Association (ACHS), indicated that mental health issues were among 35% of respondents by 2020. While, in 2020, the number of people that some symptoms of depression affected was 13%, in 2022, it rose to 16% due to unemployment and economic instability due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, as many as 28% suffered from anxiety.

Despite the problems with mental health in Chile, the total budget dedicated to mental health is currently at 2%, which is the lowest among all OECD countries. Without a doubt, this situation requires governmental action to achieve a change in strategy and an increase in the budget.

Mental Health: Challenges and Solutions

The impact that mental instability has on one’s performance and on society reaches consequences that affect the whole country. Giving these illnesses the importance they require and establishing a prompt response can have a positive impact on society’s well-being but also on reducing poverty. For example, mental issues have massive indirect costs that have links to the lack of productivity and motivation of the affected person. According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), mental health problems are the main cause of disability in Chile. Chile is also one of the Latin American countries with the highest depression rates, especially among the lowest-income groups. This suggests that chronic depression or severe anxiety disorders cause the inability to perform well in society, increasing the possibility of unemployment, drug addiction, and therefore, the risk of poverty.

Thus, mental health problems increase the levels of poverty while poverty increases the chances of suffering from mental issues. In order to break this vicious cycle, mental illnesses ought to receive treatment in time. Accepting the reality that mental health is equally important to physical health and making this reality visible, not only brings urgency to the matter but also incentivizes people to reach out without being scared or shameful to do so. Breaking the social stigma that mental instability is a symbol of weakness or insanity is the first step toward an effective response.

The First Signs of Grass Shoots

Fortunately, there is a change for the better. The World Health Organization (WHO) has stressed the importance of mental health in a series of guidelines that it published earlier in 2022. These are in the Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2030. In fact, the WHO argues that every country can move towards progress simply by making the problem visible. It promotes:

  • Raising awareness about mental health so that everyone understands the importance of it.
  • Eliminating the stigma of mental illness.
  • Improving access to mental health treatment.

Mental health in Chile became more visible since COVID-19. In 2021, Chile increases its budget by 310% compared to the previous year. The funds go toward:

  • Strengthening the human resources in mental health care for children and teenagers.
  • Improving primary health care in mental health.
  • The introduction of the Remote Brief Psychological Intervention Program, which people can use to communicate with a doctor through a video call.

Some of the most recent updates in Chile show even more positive progress. The national budget for public spending in 2023 that the President of the Republic, Gabriel Boric, announced dedicated more than $18 billion to strengthen Chile’s response to mental diseases.

As Boric stated “mental health matters and we are not going to leave them alone.” Meanwhile, global mental health day was celebrated on October 10, 2022, and the Health Minister from Chile, Ximena Aguilar, reaffirmed the same idea stating that people will no longer have to face their mental health issues alone. The Government of Chile establishes as a priority to advance the improvement of the treatment of mental illnesses while protecting the rights of the people who suffer from them.

– Carla Tomas Laserna
Photo: Unsplash

Impact of COVID-19 on Poverty in The Gambia
The Gambia is a small country in West Africa with a population of only 2.4 million people. The most recent statistics from the World Bank have indicated that as of 2015, 10.3% of the population was living below the poverty line. The pandemic has had a devastating impact on The Gambia, both in terms of its people and the country’s economic stability.

The U.N. has been working with the Gambian government, development partners and other stakeholders to nurture a comprehensive partnership to build back for the better. This is part of a global effort to ensure that the disruption that the COVID-19 pandemic caused does not lead to more challenges than the virus itself.

The Impact on Employment in The Gambia

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on employment in The Gambia. For example, the International Labour Organization (ILO) has predicted that unemployment rates increased from 9.5% to 11.2% from 2019 to 2021. This is because many businesses had to close or reduce operations in response to the pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic in The Gambia has led to a reduction in economic activity since people’s incomes have decreased and the prices of goods and services have increased.

Additionally, COVID-19 in The Gambia has led to the decline of many economic sectors including the tourism industry. For example, the number of tourists in the country dropped to 53.7% from February to March 2020. According to the Gambian Bureau of Statistics, out of 266 formal tourism establishments, 167 had to reduce their trained staff while the other 65 establishments reduced the pay of their staff.

The Economic Impacts

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on poverty in The Gambia. The country was already struggling with high levels of poverty, and the pandemic has made it even harder for people to make ends meet.

The impact of COVID-19 on poverty in The Gambia has led to slower economic growth in the country. The Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs indicated that the economic impact of COVID-19 would lead to a loss of 2.5 million Gambian dalasis equivalent to almost $50,000. As a result, the economy would shrink from 6.3% in 2020 to 3.3%.

Solutions

The government of The Gambia has responded to the outbreak by implementing a number of measures to support those the pandemic has affected. These include providing financial assistance to households impacted by job losses, increasing food production and expanding access to health care.

In April 2020, the government started a food relief program to help almost 84% of the population, providing them with 50 kg of rice, cooking oil and sugar. Additionally, The Gambia provided loans to small and medium Enterprises (SME) so that they do not lay off their staff members and can boost their business.

The impact of COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic socio-economic impact on poverty in The Gambia. This is mainly due to the fact that the pandemic has caused a decline in economic activity. However, with the help and support from the government, The Gambia was able to stabilize after the pandemic also with the help from donors such as WHO who were able to provide masks and vaccines to people and also aid from USAID that helped improve the livelihood of people from The Gambia.

Without this support, many more people would live in poverty in the Gambia. While the pandemic has been a tragedy for so many, it is heartening to see that there are some people and organizations who are working to make a difference.

– Frida Sendoro
Photo: Flickr

The Impact of COVID-19 On Poverty In Australia
While the rest of the world became vulnerable to poverty during the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia showed a remarkable immunity to the pandemic’s effects on poverty. In fact, in 2020, Australia managed to reduce poverty by 50% and “significantly reduce income inequality.” As such, this Oceania country became a model for other countries. However, after 2020, Australia began to abandon the measures it implemented to protect people from poverty, worsening the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Australia.

Initial Impact of COVID-19 on Poverty in Australia

Typically, poverty increases during a recession. However, this was not the case in Australia during the Alpha wave of the pandemic. A recent report released by the UNSW Sydney and ACOSS Poverty and Inequality Partnership in March 2022 highlights how Australia decreased poverty from March 2020 to December 2020.

Despite unemployment rates increasing from 5.1% to 17% and the gross domestic product (GDP) shrinking by 7% during the June quarter of 2020, the “average incomes of the lowest 80% of households” expanded from March 2020 to December 2020. More specifically, the average income of the lowest 20% income population increased by 8% and the middle 20% saw an average income increase of 11%.

In 2019, about 3 million people lived in poverty in Australia, but in June 2020, poverty affected 2.6 million people, which is about 50% less than Australia expected.

This is largely due to the Coronavirus Supplement, which is an additional top-up payment for people on welfare. It supplemented the JobSeeker Payment, which began in March 2020 as a government-issued support to help employers retain employees.

Because of the coupled efforts of the Coronavirus Supplement and the JobSeeker Payment, 9.9% of the population stood below the line of poverty in June 2020 compared to the 22.7% expected poverty percentage without further income support.

Poverty among people on JobSeeker Payment support also reduced sharply, dropping from 76% in 2019 to 15% in 2020.

How the Impact of COVID-19 on Poverty in Australia Reversed

During the Delta wave of the pandemic in 2021, Australia imposed lockdowns and “the effective unemployment rate” (individuals working no hours and people who exited the workforce) increased to 9%. This is because, by April 2021, Australia had eliminated both the Coronavirus Supplement and JobKeeper Payment. It introduced the COVID Disaster Payment in September 2021, but this support had a more narrow target — “80[%] of those on the lowest income support payment were excluded,” says UNSW Sydney. Subsequently, poverty rates increased by roughly 20% and income inequality rose along with it.

In September 2021, only 17% of “people under the lockdown on the lowest income support payments” received the COVID-19 Disaster Payment, which most likely left the remaining people, 765,000, in poverty. When Australia phased out the COVID-19 Disaster Payment, around 1.6 million people were on “lowest income support payments” — roughly “25% more than before the pandemic” in 2019.

The Government and Poverty

Australia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic shows that the government can end poverty. As Dr. Cassandra Goldie said in an article by UNSW Sydney, poverty and income inequality grow because of government policies, but when governments introduce effective social policies, like the Coranavirus Supplement, poverty can also greatly reduce. By spending on essentials and sending out vital help, the government was able to keep people in jobs, softening the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Australia. Thus, Australia’s unique situation during the pandemic reveals the power the government holds in exacerbating or ending poverty.

– Samyukta Gaddam
Photo: Unsplash

Impact of COVID-19 on Poverty in Denmark
The impact of COVID-19 is something many still feel across the globe. Each country had its own ways of handling the pandemic, but the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Denmark was negligible due to Denmark’s existing policies, the way the Danish government navigated lockdowns and an important cultural element: social trust.

Existing Poverty Rates and Social Welfare Programs

According to the most recent data available from the World Bank, the poverty rate in Denmark in 2019 was 0% for individuals who make $6.85 a day. When looking at the rate of extreme poverty in the country (less than $1.90 a day), the rate was 0.3%. Denmark’s poverty rates are so low because of the country’s social welfare programs.

These social welfare programs are what leads to quality living in Denmark. The country is No. 2 on the World Happiness Index, received No. 12 on the World Economic Forum competitiveness ranking in 2018 and has one of the lowest wealth inequality scores in the world.

Danish social policies apply to all citizens from cradle to grave, and some of them include paternity or maternity leave up to a full year, municipalities guaranteeing and paying for schooling and nurseries, tuition-free education for college students and generous allowances for families.

Dr. Peter Abrahamson, a sociologist at the University of Copenhagen, described the important element that allows all of these policies to be possible. “Everyone is working,” he said. These social welfare programs allow citizens to become part of the labor market, which helps pay for the high taxes that fund these programs in the first place.

Quick to Close, Early to Reopen

People saw Abrahamson’s statement in action with how the government handled the pandemic, reducing the potential impact of COVID-19 on the poverty rate in Denmark. Denmark’s population is relatively small (5.8 million compared to about 332 million in the U.S. in 2020) and it faced a relatively low death count. The country went into lockdown starting with the Danish Prime Minister ordering all schools, nurseries and universities to close on March 16 (Denmark implemented the order on March 11, a day before France placed the order).

Denmark also asked citizens to start respecting the pandemic protocols as soon as possible, and many embraced them before the lockdown began on March 16. According to a 2020 article from the National Library of Medicine, Denmark had a total of 9,311 cases and 460 deaths in May 2020, whereas other countries such as Switzerland, with roughly similar size and population, had already accumulated three times more cases and deaths. While other countries remained under strict lockdown, Denmark had already begun to reopen its society and industry, allowing people to go back to work.

In 2020, KPMG took a look at some of the financial measures the Danish government implemented in response to COVID-19 once businesses started opening back up. Some of these measures included compensation of 90% of the revenue that self-employed people lost with a fixed cap per month, setting aside 60 million DKK (Danish krone) to improve qualifications for the unemployed, extending unemployment benefits and subsidizing between 25% to 80% of a company’s fixed costs if company revenue was to decline significantly as a result of COVID-19 (the amount subsidized depended on the expected percentage of lost revenue).

Trust in the Government and in Others

The lockdown policies and quick reopening of the country would not have been as smooth as they were without the Danish people’s trust in the government and themselves. Trust is an important element of Danish culture and is what allows citizens to live their lives as they do. According to Christian Bjørnskov, a professor of economics at Denmark’s Aarhus University, a combination of trust, confidence in the government and others and strong economic developments are what makes Danes happy, not the social welfare programs. The Danes understand that the services their government provides are a contribution to their efficient labor market.

The Danes also trust their government to deliver what they need. Denmark’s Happiness Research Institute, for example, looks for what people and allows politicians to be able to deliver on that. As for the pandemic, Denmark applied the same type of trust between the government and the people.

According to an article from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), more than 75% of eligible citizens were fully vaccinated as of October 2021 and more than 60% of the adult population underwent testing each week. Testings were free to schedule as well, and citizens saw them as a way to keep others safe and to do their part rather than as an infringement of rights.

Through existing social welfare programs, clean handling of the pandemic and the social trust that exists between citizens and government, the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Denmark was able to be negligible. Based on previous data trends from the World Bank, one can assume that Denmark will continue to see very low poverty rates as the world adjusts to a post-pandemic world.

– Matthew Wikfors
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