Impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Cote d’Ivoire
The breakout of COVID-19 in 2020 had dramatic consequences on the economy of Cote d’Ivoire. Closing public spaces, quarantines and curfews helped to limit the spread of COVID-19 but created a rise in unemployment. Consequently, there has been a significant impact on poverty in Cote d’Ivoire due to COVID-19.

The Increase in Extreme Poverty After the COVID-19 Outbreak

As a result of measures to counter COVID-19, 85% of the informal workers in the country lost their jobs. Furthermore, COVID-19 measures have destroyed more than 1.3 million jobs and 71.7% of the households have a lower income than before the health crisis.

However, the poorest people of Cote d’Ivoire were the ones who suffered the most from the consequences of anti-COVID policies. In fact, 1.37 million households went under the poverty line and the poorest people lost on average more than 30% of their revenues, the UNDP reported.

According to the UNDP, extreme poverty in the country increased by four between 2019 and 2020 due to the COVID-19 consequences on the economy. Then, between 2020 and 2021, the share of the population living with less than $1.90 per day went from 18.3% to 20.2%. It shows how urgent it is to counter the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Cote d’Ivoire.

New Measures to Fight Against Extreme Poverty

The government developed policies and programs in 2020 to help the economy recover as well as to reduce as much as possible extreme poverty. As a matter of fact, the country’s budget increased from $14.8 billion in 2021 to $16 billion in order to increase the number of anti-poverty policies and strengthen the health sector.

Furthermore, as 93% of the labor force works in the informal sector, many policies have been implemented to support this critical economic sector and to avoid more poverty among the workers in this sector. Indeed, starting from March 2020, workers from the informal sector are benefiting from the same social security through the Social Regime for the Self-Employed (RSTI).

The Informal Sector Support Fund (FASI)

In addition to the RSTI, which Cote d’Ivoire adopted before the pandemic, the government launched the Informal Sector Support Fund (FASI) in May 2020 to financially support the companies and the workers of the informal sector which suffered heavily from the economic consequences of COVID-19. The implementation plan of the FASI has four phases. Between June and August 2020, the first phase aimed to identify potential beneficiaries and grant subsidies and loans. The second phase between September 2020 and February 2021 was about training and follow-up support for beneficiaries to avoid bankruptcy and the destruction of jobs following the COVID-19 outbreak.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Solidarity and Fight Against Poverty started its research on extreme poverty in October 2021. This research provided a better view of extreme poverty with detailed statistics and determinants of extreme poverty within all the regions of Cote d’Ivoire in the period following the COVID-19 crisis.

Conclusion of the Study

This study helped increase the efficiency of the National Register for poor and vulnerable households. Since the launching of its operational phase in 2019, the register is one of the most important policies the government implemented to tackle poverty in Cote d’Ivoire. Indeed, this unique database currently helps to examine the social needs that come from the consequences of COVID-19 on the economy and provide social programs to the ones who need them with high efficiency. This is because the database informs governments of exactly where and for what they need to send help.

The United Nations agencies, and especially the UNDP which provided $1.8 million to Cote d’Ivoire, are supporting on a daily basis the government of Cote d’Ivoire in their fight against COVID-19 consequences.

With such ambitious policies, the government is facing the impact of COVID-19 on the economy of Cote d’Ivoire, hoping to eradicate extreme poverty and allow an even brighter future for the country at the same time.

– Evan Da Costa Marques
Photo: Wikipedia Commons