Latin America and the Caribbean in the time of COVID-19: Preventing the vulnerable from falling behind

By Federico Bonaglia, Deputy Director, OECD Development Centre, and Sebastian Nieto Parra, Head of Latin America and the Caribbean Unit, OECD Development Centre


This blog is part of a series on tackling the coronavirus (COVID-19) in developing countries. The OECD is compiling data, information, analysis and recommendations regarding the health, economic, financial and societal challenges posed by the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19). Please visit our dedicated page for a full suite of coronavirus-related information.


Photo by Manuel on Unsplash
Local worker cleans the streets amid the COVID-19 outbreak, Vina del Mar, Chile

The necessary containment measures against COVID-19 have engendered an unprecedented global economic crisis, combining supply and demand side shocks. Now, the pandemic is affecting Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) and countries are bracing for the ripple effects. Just months ago, many countries in the region experienced a wave of mass protests driven by deep social discontent, frustrated aspirations, persistent vulnerability and growing poverty. The crisis will exacerbate these problems.

Beyond the magnitude of the impacts on already weak health systems – some 125 million people still lack access to basic health services – the overwhelming socioeconomic impact of the crisis could disproportionately fall on vulnerable and poor households if ambitious policy responses are not put in place. Continue reading

From Social Distancing to Social Solidarity: Gig economy and the Covid-19

By Funda Ustek-Spilda,  Mark Graham, Alessio Bertolini, Srujana Katta, Fabian Ferrari and Kelle Howson – A coalition of researchers at Fairwork – an organisation which studies the work practices and working conditions in the emerging gig economy. Fairwork is based at the Oxford Internet Institute.


This blog is part of a series on tackling the coronavirus (COVID-19) in developing countries. The OECD is compiling data, information, analysis and recommendations regarding the health, economic, financial and societal challenges posed by the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19). Please visit our dedicated page for a full suite of coronavirus-related information


gig-econoy-covid19Social distancing and self-isolation are the policies du jour. At this point, an estimated 1.7 billion people have been asked to remain at home by their governments, whether through a full lock-down or similar measures. As people are required to self-isolate and minimise social contact, using the internet and online platforms has become the safest way to access necessary goods and services. It is therefore not surprising that “gig workers” – workers that digital platforms hire on a per-service (“gig”) basis – have been identified as “key workers” in the fight against Covid-19, be it delivering household necessities or performing services, such as stocking shelves in supermarkets or caring for the elderly or disabled.

Nevertheless, due to the nature of their jobs, gig workers have been identified as the highest risk group as they cannot always ensure keeping a 2 m social distance from their customers. Also, our interviews show that many gig workers live hand to mouth, and they just cannot afford to take time off, whether there is a public health crisis or not. Moreover, some workers have leases and other upfront payments that they have committed to make to the platforms they work for, and they are simply unable to hold off work until they raise what they owe. It is worth noting that the gig economy also relies on workers in developing countries where overall most workers are informal and very often lack safety nets and other forms of protection. In brief, Covid-19 has brought to light a major inequality in the way platform economies are set up: gig workers provide for the key needs of society, yet they do not have access to fair working conditions. Continue reading

Covid-19: time to unleash the power of international co-operation

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By Mario Pezzini, Director, OECD Development Centre and Special Advisor to the OECD Secretary General on Development


This blog is part of a series on tackling the coronavirus (COVID-19) in developing countries. The OECD is compiling data, information, analysis and recommendations regarding the health, economic, financial and societal challenges posed by the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19). Please visit our dedicated page for a full suite of coronavirus-related information.


Development co-operationThe rapid spread of the dire human, social and economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis shows just how interconnected we are. International co-operation has become –literally– vital.

A health crisis has set off a global economic crisis, where shocks on the demand and supply sides are combining in an unprecedented scenario. Many developing countries are bracing themselves. While Europe is struggling to contain and cope with a spiralling number of cases and fatalities, the effects in countries where health systems are already weak, economies are highly dependent on global demand, and strict containment policies are more difficult to implement, could be even more disastrous.

Major outbreaks in developing countries could cause the collapse of weak health systems and expose gaps in social protection programmes, especially in Africa, where so many schemes rely on official development assistance. A humanitarian crisis may be in the making: travel restrictions affect the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and infections in refugee camps – largely hosted in developing countries – will be difficult to fight. The ILO estimates that 25 million jobs could be lost worldwide, possibly more, as the majority of workers in developing countries are in the informal economy. Continue reading

To be it, girls and boys need to see it

sigi-banner-woman-day-2020

By Gabriela Bucher, Chief Operating Officer, Plan International

Domestic-violence-kidsWhy representation is key to eliminating gender-based violence.

We entered Women’s Month during a landmark year for girls’ and women’s rights, when a number of hallmark standards for women’s human rights globally — from the Beijing Declaration to the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 — are being reviewed and renewed. But decades after these agreements were signed, millions of girls and women remain subject to gender-based violence. 84 million girls worldwide are trapped in child marriages and subject to intimate partner violence. 3 million girls are still at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM) every year. It’s time for drastic action.

Gender-based violence is rooted in outdated, entrenched and deeply harmful attitudes about gender that pervade in our societies. The Social Institutions and Gender Index shows that intimate partner violence, for example, is higher in countries where it is most socially accepted. To eliminate gender-based violence around the world we must tackle the problem at its source by unpicking harmful gender norms, beginning at an early age and empowering young people to becoming ambassadors for gender equality within their own communities. Continue reading

Lessons from coronavirus for the future of ‘aid’

By Jonathan Glennie, Senior Fellow,  Joep Lange Institute


This blog is part of a series on tackling the coronavirus (COVID-19) in developing countries. The OECD is compiling data, information, analysis and recommendations regarding the health, economic, financial and societal challenges posed by the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19). Please visit our dedicated page for a full suite of coronavirus-related information.


 

Beijing airport tarmac by Cory Doctorow
Beijing airport tarmac. Photo by Cory Doctorow

In December 2019 cases of a little-known disease called coronavirus were reported in Wuhan, a city in China with a population of about 11 million. As of 20 January 2020 there were 282 confirmed cases of the virus, 278 of which originated in China. Less than three months later, over 3,400 people in Italy were dead. Countries all over the world are gearing up for long periods of lockdown as a global pandemic takes hold. If ever proof were needed that health concerns in one country require a coordinated and well-funded global response, this is it.

What does this tell us about the future of global cooperation? The next chapter in the story of the China−Italy coronavirus relationship is equally relevant. On 13 March China sent a planeload of experts and medical supplies to Italy, including masks and respirators. Italy is one of the world’s richest countries (average income, US$34,480); despite rapid advance over the past decades, China is still much poorer (average income, US$9,770). Continue reading

The coming of age of triangular co-operation

By Jorge Moreira da Silva, Director of the Development Co-operation Directorate, OECD, and Jorge Chediek, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General for South-South Co-operation and Director of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC)

traingular event webpage imageTriangular co-operation is when actors from both developing and developed countries come together, often with international organisations, civil society and private sector partners, to deliver innovative and co-created development solutions. A niche issue for many years, it is now taking centre stage in the global discourse.

2019: the turning point

No country is too economically poor to help and share experiences, and none is too rich to learn from others. That is the idea behind triangular co-operation that came into the global spotlight in 2019 at the Second High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Co-operation, commonly known as BAPA+40. Some forty years after the original Buenos Aires Plan of Action (BAPA) was agreed in 1978, the importance of triangular co-operation was explicitly acknowledged in the BAPA+40 Outcome Document as a way to strengthen South-South and North-South co-operation. The consensus amongst participants, regardless of their level of development, was that triangular co-operation enables countries to access more and a broader range of resources, expertise and capacities to achieve national and internationally agreed sustainable development goals. Continue reading

When COVID-19 Comes to Africa

By Arkebe Oqubay, Senior Minister and Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, distinguished fellow at the Overseas Development Institute and the author, most recently, of African Economic Development: Evidence, Theory, Policy and The Oxford Handbook of Industrial Hubs and Economic Development


This blog is part of a series on tackling the coronavirus (COVID-19) in developing countries. The OECD is compiling data, information, analysis and recommendations regarding the health, economic, financial and societal challenges posed by the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19). Please visit our dedicated page for a full suite of coronavirus-related information.


 

covid19-africaThere is no telling how long it will take to bring the COVID-19 coronavirus under control, or how many people will be affected. But African governments, in cooperation with communities and international actors, can take steps now to limit the damage – and lay the foundations for a healthier, more resilient future.

Addia Ababa – The COVID-19 coronavirus – which has now spread to more than 100 countries – has pushed the world into “uncharted territory,” according to World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom. So far, Africa has recorded relatively few infections, but there is no reason to believe this won’t change. When it does, the results could be catastrophic.

One need only recall the West African Ebola epidemic of 2014-2016 to comprehend the potential damage. The hardest-hit countries were Guinea (with 3,814 cases and 2,544 deaths), Liberia (10,678 cases and 4,810 deaths), and Sierra Leone (14,124 cases and 3,956 deaths). Moreover, since August 2018, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has faced its own large-scale Ebola epidemic, with more than 3,444 cases and 2,264 deaths (as of March 10, 2020). Continue reading