Today • • 21 July

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When COVID-19 and Hunger Collide

How the pandemic is pushing people further into poverty

Since its outbreak at the end of 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about huge losses – both in its mortality rates as well as economic consequences – all over the world. 

The pandemic has pushed people further down the poverty line. People who were struggling before the pandemic, struggled even more. People who were surviving well before the pandemic, were now struggling as well. No matter who you are or where you are, no one is spared from the massive impact of the pandemic. 

Unfortunately for those already living below the poverty line, they face new and deepened poverty as a result of COVID-19. 

One example is Imani (not her real name), a woman with a disability living in Nairobi, Kenya. Before the pandemic struck, she ate three meals a day with her children and could afford their school fees. However in September 2020, she was only able to afford one meal per day and her children had to visit neighbours to share meals. Strict, lockdown measures that were implemented had abruptly stopped her street food business because she could not supply her main ingredient. Without an income, her family had been pushed further into poverty. 

This is the reality for many, many others in the world. For many people like Imani, they had their livelihoods upended when before the pandemic, they were just getting by with life. For example in Kathmandu, elderly people have lost their support networks as social distancing made it impossible to interact with community groups that they previously relied on. In rural Nepal, it is reported that child marriage rates and gender-based violence have increased, leaving long-lasting scars and amplify poverty in the long-run.

For many people worldwide, they are likely to face a long and arduous journey to bounce back – just like for many countries worldwide, it has been an uphill struggle in rebounding from the economic and social effects of the pandemic

Poverty was expected to rise in 2020, for the first time in 20 years. This threatens to reverse the progress that many communities and households have made. It could also mean those who have remained chronically poor had to suffer further setbacks. Those facing multiple forms of social and economic exclusion – women, migrants, people with disabilities, elderly, groups facing ethnic or racial discrimination – are at a heightened risk of poverty. The structural disadvantages that they are already going through will likely be worsened as the crisis continues.

Though if the presence of COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is that the world that we live in is inextricably interconnected – the disease transcends borders, social and economic classes. To fight the worsening effects of the pandemic, the response to the crisis must now do the same. 

At Global Ehsan Relief, we want to ensure that no one sleeps on an empty stomach. Our Care for Hunger programs provide millions of life-saving, nutritious meals in crisis-hit countries. Join us in our fight against poverty, and let’s lend a helping hand during a time where it is most needed around the world.