The Sunday News
FORECASTS by a number of expert organisations say the Covid-19 pandemic is likely to cause the first increase in global poverty since 1998, when the Asian Financial Crisis hit.
Economic experts say with the new forecasts, global poverty—the share of the world’s population living on less than $1,90 per day — is projected to increase from 8,2 percent in 2019 to 8,6 percent in 2020, or from 632 million people to 665 million people.
“Another way to put this is that the estimates suggest that Covid-19 will push 49 million people into extreme poverty in 2020. The places where the virus is taking its highest toll depends primarily on two factors: the impact of the virus on economic activity and the number of people living close to the international poverty line. International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects that advanced economies will contract by around six percent in 2020 while emerging markets and developing economies will contract by one percent.
“Yet with more people living close to the international poverty line the developing world, low and middle-income countries will suffer the greatest consequences in terms of extreme poverty. Though Sub-Saharan Africa so far has been hit relatively less by the virus from a health perspective, our projections suggest that it will be the region hit hardest in terms of increased extreme poverty. About 23 million of the people pushed into poverty are projected to be in Sub-Saharan Africa and 16 million in South Asia,” according to blogs.worldbank.org.
With lockdowns having been used as a major factor to stop the spread of coronavirus, economic activities have slowed down the world over, and many people have lost their sources of income with some companies closing shop and some reducing the number of employees.
However, there has been a silver lining to all this. The international community has come together with relief packages to assist the vulnerable members of the society.
Locally, the Government has also come up with a relief fund for businesses and a package to assist ordinary families so that they get access to food. One million households will start receiving $300 monthly payouts as part of Government’s efforts to cushion people whose sources of income have been affected by Covid-19. The total number of beneficiaries might rise depending on the response from the public, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said.
Addressing a Zanu-PF Provincial Co-ordinating Committee (PCC) meeting in Gwanda recently, Prof Ncube said in Matabeleland South only, more than 65 000 households will benefit.
“I want to talk about those people that are vulnerable and are on social welfare. Our target is one million people across the country. I think we have about 65 000 households in Matabeleland South that we are targeting with this programme. We want this number to rise and people should come forward and register with the Department of Social Welfare,” he said.
We also note that churches, Non-Governmental Organisations, corporates, ordinary citizens and even former footballers, local and in the diaspora have been giving a helping hand to local communities. The First Family has also been leading from the front to assist local communities. That kind gesture has to be applauded.
“God loveth a cheerful giver,” writes Paul in the Bible. We pray that the spirit of love and giving will continue, as the burden brought about by the coronavirus pandemic is far from over.
“The very nature of the newborn soul is love, and love is a giving quality. Love gives without measure, without hoping for something material in return. It gives because to give is its very nature. Love can never give as much as it desires to give, till it has exhausted all its resources and given itself besides. God gave His Son, and Heaven, and eternal life to all who would believe. Christ gave Himself. The true minister gives his all, his service, his strength, his means, because, Christ like, he loves,” said an online blogger.