COVID-19 Worsens Chronic Poverty In Zimbabwe’s Vulnerable Citizens- Report

LIMITED social protection vehicles and the absence of social safety nets for some venerable groups has exacerbated already existing inequalities and chronic poverty among Zimbabwe’s vulnerable groups.

By Michael Gwarisa

A new report, the Zimbabwe’s Second Voluntary National Review (VNR) 2021 indicates that the COVID-19 pandemic has  affected government’s  capacity to effectively address chronic poverty (by helping the poor households) as well as the capacity to mitigate the socio-economic shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the 2019 Labour Force  and  Child  Labour  Survey  (LFCLS),  about  249,000  persons,  which  is  approximately  2%  of  the  population, were  receiving  a  monthly  pension  or  any  social  security  fund  or  both. With respect to medical insurance, about 984,000 persons, representing about 7% of the population, were members of a medical aid scheme. Covid19 also exacerbated poverty among people with disabilities,” said the report.

In Zimbabwe, according to the report, most people with disabilities, more than 70%,  are  unemployed  and  run  informal  businesses and their means of survival were greatly disrupted.

“During the  lockdown,  informal  businesses were shut down and this reduced income for people with disabilities. The COVID19 grant was not availed to everyone, as the database was not comprehensive enough, leave out some  people  with  disabilities  without  support.

“The  amount  being  given  were  insufficient  to  sustain beneficiaries during the lockdown period. People with disabilities highlighted the need for  their  involvement  at  all  levels,  from  grassroots  levels,  particularly  on  decisions  that  affect their welfare the response to the COVID19, pandemic.”

The report added that the burden and impact has been worse on women and other 
resource limited societal groups.

“The COVID 19 induced shocks acted as risk-multipliers that most impact those with the fewest resources to respond, particularly women and marginalized groups. In turn, emerging diseases increase the  consumption  of  health  services  and  require  intensive  resource  use  to  meet  the  necessary healthcare demands of pandemics. Similarities of symptoms of Covid-19 and malaria resulted in communities  delaying  seeking  early  treatment  for  malaria  and  instead  resorting  to  Covid-19  homecare.

“Lockdowns also  restricted  access  to  health  facilities  by  non-COVID  19  patients.  COVID  19  also  had  differential  impacts  on  migrants  in  the  diaspora  due    loss  of  jobs induced by the pandemic; lack of access to solidarity funds in countries of destination; limited in country capacity to provide return and reintegration assistance.”

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