How Africa is fighting the scourge of poverty

In Africa, the economic crisis has become a cruel reality in a very short time. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) announced on Wednesday June 3 that the Covid-19 pandemic could, according to its projections, push 29 million people into extreme poverty. “Africa already knew the economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis even before its impact on public health and it could suffer a slowdown in growth from 1.8% to 2.6% of GDP, which could push 29 million people into extreme poverty, “said ECA executive secretary Vera Songwe in a statement. And the measures implemented in 42 African countries to protect populations from the pandemic “have already cost the region nearly $ 69 billion per month and should have a negative impact on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in the region ”. Illustration in Côte d’Ivoire, where the National Institute of Statistics and the UNDP, the United Nations Development Program have released three surveys on the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic and the impacts more specifically on the sectors of the economy. informal and formal businesses. Result in this country seven million people have already passed the poverty line.

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A three-dimensional survey

For now, these are only estimates, but the prospects they present are not reassuring for the future. According to the authors, “this survey reveals immediate and future shocks on households and the informal productive sector”. First observation: the average monthly income of Ivorian heads of household fell by 43% in April from 60,000 to 34,000 CFA francs. More than 32% of families have fallen below the poverty line, or around 7 million people.

Second lesson, the crisis hits urban households much more than rural ones, and in particular the households of the capital Abidjan. For example: more than 72% of heads of household who are technically unemployed as a result of Covid-19 live in Abidjan, compared with only 28% inside the country. And no social layer is spared. The crisis destroyed 1.3 million informal jobs, or 39%. More than a quarter of the so-called “informal production units” had to stop their activity, and more than half were forced to reduce it. It should be noted that the informal sector plays a major role in the economy of Côte d’Ivoire. Indeed, this sector contributes more than 40% to gross domestic product (GDP) and to job creation. But as the survey by the INS and UNDP teams reveals, “in particular, the heads of the IPU are very satisfied with the measure to set up a fund specific to informal sector companies affected by the crisis. for an amount of 100 billion FCFA and believe that this measure will have a positive impact on their activity. ”

In the meantime, one of the consequences of this drop in income is the inability of households to repay their debts and especially to meet domestic expenses. These figures only confirm the fears expressed since the start of the pandemic by various institutions such as the World Bank, which estimates that growth in sub-Saharan Africa should shrink sharply from 2.4% to – 5.1%, plunging the region in its first recession in over 25 years. “This crisis has exacerbated the vulnerability of households and the fragility of the informal sector and small and medium-sized enterprises,” analyzes the UNDP.

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Côte d’Ivoire variously impacted

In the case of Côte d’Ivoire, the consequences of the pandemic are assessed on several levels. Even if the number of cases of coronavirus increases it is quite stable with 3 110 cases and 35 deaths, the country is still impacted, like all African states rich in natural resources by a sharp drop in demand and in the price of courses .

Far from being indifferent, the government reacted fairly quickly. And there was an emergency. Because this is the first time in many years that Côte d’Ivoire will experience growth of less than 5%. “Our economic growth, estimated at 7.2% for the year 2020, would be halved to 3.6%, in the event of a control of the pandemic at the end of June,” announced Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly . As a result, his government has taken economic measures to compensate for the losses. It quickly adopted a national response plan which contains measures to support businesses. To find out their impact in the long term, the State plans to continue its series of surveys, every six weeks, in collaboration with the World Bank and agencies of the United Nations system, in order to measure the development over time. light of government decisions in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. In light of the first three studies, three possible scenarios emerge which would have serious consequences for poverty in the country. If the crisis were to last only one quarter, the poverty rate – which was around 37% before the health crisis – would increase by 4 points. + 10% if the crisis were to last two quarters. + 21 points, or a poverty rate approaching 60% if the crisis were to last a year or more.

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* CEA, Economic Commission for Africa.

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