América Latina y el Caribe en tiempos del COVID-19: no descuidar a los más vulnerables

Por Federico Bonaglia, Director Adjunto, Centro de Desarrollo de la OCDE, y Sebastián Nieto Parra, Jefe de la Unidad de América Latina y el Caribe, Centro de Desarrollo de la OCDE.


Este artículo es parte de una serie sobre cómo abordar COVID-19 en los países en desarrollo. Visite la página específica de la OCDE para acceder a los datos, análisis y recomendaciones de la OCDE sobre los impactos sanitarios, económicos, financieros y sociales del COVID-19 en todo el mundo.


Photo by Manuel on UnsplashRead this blog in English

Las medidas de contención necesarias contra el COVID-19 han generado una crisis económica mundial sin precedentes, combinando choques por el lado de la oferta y de la demanda. Ahora, la pandemia está afectando a América Latina y el Caribe y los países se están preparando para el efecto multiplicador que tendrá en la región. Tan solo unos meses antes, a finales de 2019, muchos países de la región tuvieron una ola de protestas masivas impulsadas por un profundo descontento social, aspiraciones frustradas, vulnerabilidad persistente y creciente pobreza. Esta crisis exacerbará estos problemas.

Más allá de la magnitud del impacto en los sistemas de salud que ya son débiles (unos 125 millones de personas aún carecen de acceso a los servicios básicos de salud), el abrumador impacto socioeconómico de la crisis podría recaer desproporcionadamente en los hogares vulnerables y pobres si no se implementan respuestas ambiciosas de política. Continue reading

COVID-19 in Latin America: Promoting entrepreneurship and reducing social vulnerabilities

By Jorge Arbache, Private Sector Vice-President, Development Bank of Latin America (CAF)


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


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Vendor in Quito, Ecuador. Photo: teranbryan_ecu/Shutterstock

Statistics show that economic growth in Latin America is highly volatile, with periods of acceleration and collapse. This dynamic hides perverse implications. The combination of low growth persistence with high-growth volatility is associated with greater risk aversion, which in turn encourages financial speculation and firms to invest in lower risk, but also lower social return projects. Additionally, poverty and other social indicators are also very sensitive to the harmful combination of short growth spells and high volatility. Continue reading

Fighting COVID-19 in Africa’s informal settlements

By Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN‐Habitat)


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


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Kibera informal settlement in Nairobi, Kenya. Photo: Boris Golovnev/Shutterstock

The COVID-19 pandemic has cost hundreds of thousands of lives in the world’s richest cities but poses an even greater threat to cities in the developing world. There are now more than 150,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus across Africa, in all 54 countries, with South Africa and Egypt the worst affected.

One of the most pressing concerns for Africa is that over half the population (excluding in North Africa) live in overcrowded informal settlements. In these areas where several people have to share one badly ventilated room, diseases such as COVID-19 spread fast and it is impossible to practice physical distancing whether in homes or outside. Continue reading

COVID-19: Forging a new social contract in the Middle East and North Africa

 By Rabah Arezki, Chief Economist for Middle East and North Africa Region at the World Bank and Mahmoud Mohieldin, United Nations Special Envoy for the 2030 Agenda


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


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Egypt, Hurghada: Disinfection of a street during the coronavirus outbreak, March 2020. Photo: Aleks333/Shutterstock

The COVID-19 crisis and its dual shock of disease and falling oil prices have brought to light the underlying flaws of Middle Eastern and Northern African (MENA) economies today. Flaws that authorities must fix if the region is to prosper.

At the global level, there will likely be a ramping up of the role of the state to eradicate the virus and protect economies from depression. State intervention is already high in the MENA region (see Figure 1). How well this helps countries cope first with the pandemic and then its aftermath depends on their ability to refocus, be more transparent, and develop accountability mechanisms.

Figure 1. Government Consumption in GDP

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Social protection and sub-regional integration: fundamental instruments for post-COVID-19 social reconstruction

By Alfredo Suárez Mieses, Secretary-General, Central American Social Integration Secretariat (SISCA), and Gabriela A. Ramírez Menjívar, Head of the Multidimensional Poverty, Human Capital Development and Social Protection Area- SISCA


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


Photography by Presidency of the Republic of El Salvador
Photo: Presidency of the Republic of El Salvador

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing an unprecedented health, economic and social crisis that threatens to leave a deeply negative mark in the SICA region (Central America and Dominican Republic), particularly on employment, poverty, and inequality levels. The depth of the impacts will depend on multiple factors, including the duration of the pandemic, the public policy responses to contain and control it, a country’s economic structure, the strength of its health and social protection systems, and its level of vulnerability to global dynamics. Social protection is a crucial tool to minimize the costs of the crisis; it is also a crucial investment to make the recovery stronger and more inclusive, thus more sustainable.

Measures taken by most countries to flatten the contagion curve, along with the current international environment, have impacted economic activity with direct effects on income generation and living conditions for a large part of the population. According to the latest report of the Central American Economic Integration Secretariat (SIECA), the region’s Gross Domestic Product will contract by 6.8%. The fall in tourism and decline of economic activity in the United States, the main trading partner and the largest source of foreign direct investment and remittances in Central America, are already having negative effects. The Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) estimates remittances could contract by 10% for each point less of growth in the United States. Continue reading

The COVID-19 crisis: income support to informal workers is necessary and possible

By Laura Alfers, Director, Social Protection Programme, WIEGO, Rachel Moussié, Deputy Director, Social Protection Programme, WIEGO and Jenna Harvey, Global Focal Cities Coordinator, WIEGO


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


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Photo: Shutterstock

Income recovery in the informal economy will require broad and longer-term support

Juana Corman wakes at 2:00 a.m., as she has for decades, to travel across town to the distribution centre where she picks up stacks of newspapers to sell. Normally, she would sell from her dedicated kiosk to pedestrians on Lima’s busy streets, but under Peru’s mandatory stay-at-home order, her work has changed. Now, she sells the daily paper house-to-house – delivering critical information to a city on edge. In one respect, Juana Corman is more fortunate than many other informal workers in the city – as an essential worker she is able to continue working. However, selling door to door has meant a significant reduction in earnings at the same time as her costs have increased due to limited public transport and the need to purchase protective equipment. Continue reading

Le COVID-19 en Afrique : Comment les systèmes de santé peuvent-il faire face ?

Par Riku Elovainio, Consultant en santé mondiale et protection sociale et Alexander Pick, Centre de développement de l’OCDE


Ce blog fait partie d’une série sur la lutte contre le COVID-19 dans les pays en voie de développement. Visitez la page dédiée de l’OCDE pour accéder aux données, analyses et recommandations de l’OCDE sur les impacts sanitaires, économiques, financiers et sociétaux de COVID-19 dans le monde.


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(Read this post in English)

La pandémie de Covid-19 menace de submerger les systèmes de santé partout dans le monde. Le virus est désormais présent dans 52 pays africains. Les systèmes de santé de la région pourront-ils faire face, alors que beaucoup étaient déjà sous pression avant la pandémie et n’ont pas de capacité de réserve ? Un soutien international sera crucial pour aider les pays africains à réagir, mais les efforts pour renforcer les services de santé de la région à court terme se heurtent à une série d’obstacles qui vont au-delà du secteur de la santé lui-même. Même une crise de cette ampleur ne doit pas occulter les priorités à long terme des systèmes de santé africains : y répondre est essentiel non seulement pour renforcer leur capacité à gérer les besoins quotidiens, mais aussi pour faire face à la prochaine crise. Continue reading

Why protecting informal economy workers is so critical in time of COVID-19

By Anders Gerdin, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), and Alexandre Kolev, Head of the Social Cohesion Unit, OECD Development Centre


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


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Local market in Antipolo City, Philippines, during the coronavirus outbreak. Photo: Shutterstock

The outbreak and spread of COVID-19 is having and will have a disproportionate impact on informal economy workers across the world, especially in developing countries, where they represent about 70% of the workforce. Many of these informal economy workers are poor and most lack labour, social and health protection. As they often simply cannot implement social distancing, they are particularly exposed and vulnerable to the pandemic. In turn, entire economic sectors, of which informal workers are a mainstay, could collapse. The food economy is a case in point. The combination of border closures and the likely shortages of informal workers due to confinement measures may put food security at risk. Urgent policy action is needed to protect these workers and recognise their value as essential service providers. Continue reading

COVID-19 and beyond: How can Africa’s health systems cope?

By Riku Elovainio, Consultant in global health and social protection and Alexander Pick, OECD Development Centre


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


globe-life-line-AFRICA(Lire ce blog en français)

The Covid-19 pandemic threatens to overwhelm health systems everywhere. With the virus now present in 52 African countries, will health systems in the region, many of which were under strain before the pandemic and have no reserve capacity, be able to cope? International support will be crucial in helping countries in Africa respond, but efforts to strengthen the region’s health services in the short term confront an array of obstacles that extend beyond the health sector itself. Even a crisis of these proportions should not obscure the long-term priorities for Africa’s health systems, on which depends its capacity to deal with day-to-day demand, let alone the next crisis.

The West African Ebola epidemic of 2014-2016 exposed the affected countries’ limited capacity to deal with a widespread disease outbreak. The lessons for health systems across Africa were understood yet have not prompted a step change in public health services, even in the countries where the Ebola crisis struck. While there is great variation across Africa (South Africa’s health system is clearly very different from South Sudan’s, for example), many countries exhibit the same gaps in their health systems that make it extremely difficult to scale up a short-term response.

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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 COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


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

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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