Sunday, June 26

Half of Zimbabweans fell into extreme poverty during Covid | Global development

The number of Zimbabweans living in extreme poverty has reached 7.9 million, as the pandemic has caused another economic impact in the country.

According to the World Bank Economic and Social Update ReportAlmost half of Zimbabwe’s population fell into extreme poverty between 2011 and last year, and children were hit the hardest.

“The number of people living in extreme poverty is expected to remain at 7.9 million in 2021 amid continued high prices and a slow recovery of jobs and wages in the formal and informal sectors,” according to the report.

“Given the limited social safety nets to protect large numbers of the poor, households are likely to resort to negative coping strategies,” he said.

“Poor households are likely to forgo formal health care because they cannot pay for services and to keep children out of school to avoid education costs such as school fees, uniforms and textbooks.”

The pandemic added 1.3 million Zimbabweans to the number of people living in extreme poverty due to the loss of jobs and income in urban areas.

According to the World Bank, the “extremely poor” are defined as people living below the food poverty line of US $ 29.80 (£ 21) per person per month.

Those living below this threshold doubled from 3 million in 2011 to 6.6 million in 2019, with figures higher than ever recorded in rural areas.

Child poverty has increased exponentially across the country and humanitarian agencies are experiencing high levels of malnutrition and stunting.

“Due to economic and climatic shocks, poverty increased dramatically and extreme poverty reached 42% in 2019, up from 30% in 2017. Almost 90% of the extreme poor lived in rural areas and 1.6 million were children. “, He said.

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Children play on a makeshift pool table, Hopley, Harare
Children play at a makeshift pool table in Hopley, on the outskirts of Harare. As the Covid shutdown closed schools, the poorest children were left to their own devices. Photograph: Aaron Ufumeli / EPA

Rising fuel and food prices have hit the poor, and increases in corn and cornmeal alone are estimated to have increased extreme poverty by two percentage points between May and December 2019.

“According to the survey, in July 2020, nearly 500,000 households had a member who had lost his job since the start of the pandemic, worsening the plight of the poor and forcing more households to suffer intermittently or prolongedly. The most common stated reason for losing a job in urban areas was business closures due to closure, ”the report says.

While wages fell, 23% of the poorest people, who were working before Covid-19, had lost their jobs in June 2020, adding thousands to the unemployment figures.

“Among the non-poor, this figure was also high, 20%. As fewer of the poor were working even before the pandemic, the proportion of households affected by job losses is roughly the same for both the poor and the non-poor, ”the report says.

As Zimbabweans struggled with successive blockades, 1.4 million people were left without basic food.

Albert Marombe holds up a tattered $ 20 bill
A stall vendor with a tattered $ 20 bill in a busy Harare market. The continuing economic crisis means that enterprising merchants are repairing old bills for desperate customers. Photograph: Search Mukwazhi / AP

The grim reading of Zimbabwe’s economic outlook comes as the government brags about a budget surplus of $ 9.8 billion (US $ 19.5 million), maintaining that the economy has grown under the leadership of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, but the reality on the streets of Harare tells a different story of struggle as families earn their living. lifetime.

However, despite the uncertainty about a third wave of Covid, the bank suggested that Zimbabwe could have an economic rebound in 2022 with a bumper harvest that is expected to ensure that most rural families have enough to eat and carry the economy to a growth of 3.9%.

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