COVID-19 is revealing inequities between and within countries. Across the globe, poorer people tend to be more exposed to the risk of infection as they are more likely to have co-morbidities, less likely to be able to work from home, and more likely to live in multi-generational, large households in cramped conditions with limited access to clean water. Poorer population groups are less likely to receive the care they need once they are infected and have a lower survival from COVID-19.
African economies are at a pivotal juncture. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought economic activity to a standstill. Africa’s hard-won economic gains of the last two decades, critical in improving living standards, could be reversed. High public debt levels and the uncertain outlook for international aid limit the scope for growth through large public investment programs.Heads of state from Africa made this one of their resounding messages during the recent summit on “Financing African Economies” held in Paris in May.
Photo: Achmad/World Bank
Indonesia has made great strides in becoming a middle-class country and is working to become a thriving high-income country by 2045. Recognizing the importance of job creation throughout this journey, the country has remained committed to creating conditions for robust job creation. Even as progress globally has been derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Indonesia has kept its focus on human capital development and economic transformation – two areas fundamental for job creation.
As African countries accelerate the deployment of COVID-19 (coronavirus) vaccines, the issue of vaccine hesitancy looms. Globally, there has been a rise in general vaccine hesitancy but especially towards COVID-19 vaccines. In Africa, hesitancy must be viewed in the context of significant vaccine shortage; hesitancy does not explain fully the low vaccination rates in Africa. The slow vaccine rollout on the continent is due to supply constraints, structural issues, and logistical barriers.
GALLINA ANDRONOVA VINCELETTE, REENA BADIANI-MAGNUSSON, MONA PRASAD write: Two years into a pandemic that has shaken the world, policymaking remains a delicate balance between protecting those who cannot always protect themselves, nurturing the recovery, and keeping debt at manageable levels. The unprecedented policy support from EU institutions and member state governments throughout the pandemic has helped to cushion the worst impacts on employment and income. This, coupled with the rapid adaptation of firms and households to a ‘new normal,’ has helped to keep national economies afloat and societies running. Unemployment has remained in check and household incomes have been relatively stable thanks to a raft of firm support and social protection measures. Salary subsidies, generous leave allowances and debt holidays extended since early 2020 are just a few of the interventions that would, prior to the pandemic, have been unthinkable in the scale that we saw in 2020, blurring the lines between the public and private sectors
JEREMY VEILLARD, AAKASH MOHPAL, GABRIEL AGUIRRE MARTENS, MARÍA INÉS BADIN write: Peru is among the world’s hardest-hit countries by the pandemic. To date, it has the largest number of COVID-19 deaths per capita in the world. It turns out that the lockdown established in the country in May last year was only respected in richer parts of the country. Was this foreseeable in existing data? Yes. As revealed in Peru’s National Household Survey (ENAHO), only 22% of poor households own a refrigerator, and hence, shop for groceries on a daily basis. Studies conducted in markets by Peru’s National Health Institute detected the virus in 8 out of 10 of market workers.
go to World Bank blogs: Better data for safe economic reactivation (worldbank.org)
SATHEESH SUNDARARAJAN writes: Notwithstanding different levels of estimates of the infrastructure gap from various global studies, one thing we can safely agree on is the massive infrastructure gap in emerging market and developing economies (EMDEs). The impact of COVID has left many countries with even higher fiscal stress and competing investment priorities. One such approach is asset recycling. Let’s get to some of the basics first.
go to World Bank blogs: Asset recycling in EMDE infrastructure development can be a win-win-win (worldbank.org)
During a recent training session about The Role of Financial Market Solutions for Building Resilience to Shocks in Agriculture, we asked a simple question to a group of policy makers and private sector players: “Which financial services do you think play a role in boosting rural resilience?” To our surprise, while participants were given the possibility to select several answers, many of them chose only one: insurance.
Rivers are the oldest means of transport in the massive Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna delta, where a dense lattice of waterways once carried over 70 per cent of the goods and passengers within the region. Today, however, less than 2 percent of goods are transported by water.