Poverty is gaining ground

La pauvreté gagne du terrain

Gordwin ODHIAMBO Agence France-Presse
While the rich countries to multiply the plans of emergency assistance to workers and companies affected by the crisis, the developing countries “there is a desperate shortage of financial firepower and need all the help they can get, as quickly as possible,” says Oxfam.

The pandemic of COVID-19 could fall into poverty more than half a billion people in the world, warns Oxfam.

The new coronavirus and containment measures of governments to put the brakes on growth could, in the worst case scenario, plunge into the misery between 434 and 612 million people, estimated in a study cited in a report released Wednesday night by the organization of international co-operation. Equivalent to between 6 % and 8 % of the world’s population, the addition of this new contingent of unhappy would be a decline in 10 — year-old or even 30 years in some parts of Africa and the Middle East — and would leave more than half of the inhabitants of the planet under the different poverty thresholds established by the world Bank, between US $2 and US $5.50 per day.

It is true that no one is immune to the pandemic, ” note the authors of the Oxfam report. “Personalities of a prince as well as movie stars are infected with the virus, which makes no difference between the rich and the poor. But the equality stops there. “

In effect, the wealthy are also more likely to engage in formal employment, to benefit from a certain social safety net, to have savings, to be able to isolate them in a safe house and connected that allow telecommuting and to continue the education of children at home. However, four billion people do not have any form of formal social protection in case of job loss or illness, and this reality accounts for 90 % of jobs in developing countries, 67 % in emerging economies and 18 % in developed countries.

Women are also over-represented in informal jobs and precarious, as they are overrepresented also in the health care staff (70 %), in the activities of care is not paid for (75 %) with children or seniors and in many other tasks in the first line of the mobilization against the pandemic.

In the United States alone, it is feared that the disease and the containment and destroy up to 35 million jobs, but in Africa, the united Nations evoke the loss of nearly half of the jobs.

Help autrespour self-help

While the rich countries to multiply the plans of emergency assistance to workers and companies affected by the crisis, the developing countries “there is a desperate shortage of financial firepower and need all the help they can get, as quickly as possible,” said Oxfam, which calls for the adoption of any emergency of a ” plan of economic rescue for all “.

It is also good for the financial security that health and safety key stakeholders. “The virus we will starve before we make you sick “, said in the report Micah Olywangu, a taxi driver and father of three children in Nairobi, Kenya, which has more customers since the closure of the airport, the restaurants and bars of the city.

Taking advantage of the holding, next week, of meetings, including the international monetary Fund (IMF), the world Bank and Finance ministers of the G20 countries, Oxfam calls for aid to poor countries 2500 billion to 1,000 billion in debt cancellation, from 1000 billion in financing by the IMF and 500 billion in development assistance additional.

One regrets, in passing, that, on the 2200 billion of the last emergency plan adopted by Washington, only 0.05 %, or 1.1 billion, is precisely intended to assist the management of the crisis in poor countries. However, “unless the rich countries to be willing to stay in quarantine indefinitely, we will not see the end of this crisis by showing solidarity at the international level,” warns Oxfam.

The lessons of 2008

To maximize the positive effect, this aid should go in priority to the ordinary citizens and small companies that are the victims of the ongoing crisis. To be eligible, the companies should be required to commit themselves to the goals of climate change reduction of the Paris Agreement, a limit on the pay gap between their executives and their employees, or of equality between men and women.

To finance this assistance, the authorities should give up their nasty habit to pass the bill on to the citizens as soon as possible in the form of austerity measures and instead refer to tax more adequate on the profits of companies, the fortunes and carbon emissions, as well as taxes on financial transactions or luxury products.

“The government must remember the lessons of the financial crisis of 2008, when the bailout of banks and corporations has been financed by the citizens on the common : the crisis has cost loss of jobs, the stagnation of wages and a massive cut in basic services such as health,” said in a press release Denise Byrnes, executive director of Oxfam-Québec.

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