Mary Ambweni HSA (Health Surveillance Assistant) at a health centre in Lilongwe (Malawi) distributing soap to beneficiaries.
Photo: Concern Worldwide

Alliance2015 research: The impact of COVID-19 on the world’s poorest countries

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a widespread and severe impact on some of the world’s poorest people, according to international research conducted by the Alliance2015, of which Helvetas is one partner. The study surveyed people in 23 countries in the global South.

The research, undertaken by the eight member organisations of Alliance2015, measured the impact of the pandemic across the areas of food, income, access to health and education, and community dynamics.  Researchers sought first-hand experience of 13,820 people.

Over 40 per cent of all respondents experienced a decrease in food quantity and quality. Some 90 per cent said their ability to earn income was worse than before the pandemic.

The experience varied according to the respondent’s location (urban, rural, peri-urban or camps), country and individual factors such as gender, household composition and the main source of income.  However, overall older people, those with disabilities, women and children were the worst affected.

While there was awareness of the virus and the steps necessary to protect themselves against it, masks and soap were not affordable for up to a third of respondents.  For up to a quarter of respondents, masks were not available.   Large household numbers meant that social distancing was not possible for 38 per cent of respondents living in camps.

Respondents who reported a decrease in food quantity were highest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Ecuador and Kenya.  Those who considered that the quality of food they had, had reduced since the pandemic, were highest in Kenya, Ecuador, Malawi and Afghanistan.

The analysis of respondents who reported a fall in income, showed that casual labourers and petty traders were hardest hit. The research also found that three-quarters of respondents who received remittances said these payments had either decreased or had stopped completely during the pandemic.

All main income sectors are heavily affected by COVID-19 measures. Surprisingly, the agricultural sector was also heavily affected in terms of reduced income, whereby as main reason loss of opportunities to sell agricultural products was stated.

Among the other key findings were:

  • Two-thirds of respondents who live in households with children consider their access to education has reduced compared to the time before Covid-19;
  • One-third of those surveyed considered that the health and well-being of their family were worse now compared to prior to the pandemic;
  • Up to 70 per cent of respondents reported an increase in conflicts within their communities and their families.

Alliance2015 members have adapted their programmes to address the crisis

“The pandemic is undermining the resilience of communities globally, across all regions and socio-economic groups,” Antonia Potter Prentice, Alliance2015 Director said. “All Alliance2015 members have adapted their programmes and initiated new activities to address the crisis in the short, long and medium term.”

The research will help Allilance2015 members augment community resilience through better targeting and customised design of interventions,” Antonia Potter Prentice pointed out and added: it is an important contribution to global understanding of community resilience and provides the basis for valuable longitudinal assessments to feed programme design over time.”

Data from the survey will be used to meet a number of key needs such as shaping project design, development agenda, positioning, advocacy and dialogue with multiple stakeholder groups.

Alliance2015 is a strategic network of eight European non-government organisations engaged in humanitarian and development action. Our members are ACTED/France, Ayuda en Acción /Spain, Cesvi/Italy, Concern Worldwide/Ireland, HELVETAS /Switzerland, Hivos/The Netherlands, People in Need /Czech Republic and Welthungerhilfe /Germany.


The main findings of the study can be consulted here

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