Low-income groups and families are worst hit by the pandemic which has gripped the globe. These will primarily concern middle eastern countries that have been in deep soup due to civil wars and internal political disturbances for a decade.
According to United Nations University research findings, “a social lockdown strategy will not work well for such countries. Due to the fact that most people are already without shelter and means of livelihood, the whole task of social distancing fails. Also, prolonged violence and unrest have psychologically damaged families, women, and children. Expecting them to maintain any kind of lockdown is asking for another wave of social unrest.”
Using Mozambique as a case study, a lockdown readiness index was prepared which suggests a need for more inventive adaptation of public health policies. No other model to be replicated would work for these poor nations.
Most countries like UK, US, India, China, Italy, Spain, France, etc that have used the lockdown mechanism to break the chain of contractions, can work well due to the fact that the internet and phone connectivity within households provide for enough safety net for daily living and work to be done. Many professionals in these countries are being able to adapt to a Work-From-Home and carry on work as usual.
According to research findings from World Institute for Development Economics Research, United Nations University, five things need to be made available for any kind of social distancing strategy to work for the poor or developing nations fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. These include access to drinking water and electricity, adequate sanitation within their homes, a source of reliable energy to maintain access to electricity, access to complete and accurate information to build a sense of calm and trust, and above all, having a permanent source of income. Additionally, if the first three are not in place, then people will not be able to stay indoors and continue to wish to move to meet their basic needs. Then the whole purpose of the social distancing is completely defeated.
The lockdowns will work well in higher income contexts. Social distancing strategy would only work if there is a community spirit. Additionally, full control will come through ‘extensive testing and tracking to identify virus hotspots, as in Vietnam, as well as extensive prevention measures. And even if a lighter form of lockdown must be enforced, large-scale social protection programs (such as cash transfers) and basic service expansion (such as mobile drinking water stations) would be required to avoid an even greater catastrophe’, suggests economic strategists.
To read more related articles: Click here