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Session Overview
Session
3-HP001: Multidimensional Impacts of COVID-19 on Poverty and Wellbeing
Time:
Tuesday, 06/July/2021:
2:00pm - 3:15pm

Session Chair: Dr. Keetie Roelen, Institute of Development Studies, United Kingdom
Session Chair: Dr. Suman Seth, University of Leeds, United Kingdom

Session Abstract

Following roughly 18 months after the start of the unprecedented global pandemic of COVID-19, this harvest panel session will consider the multidimensional impacts of the pandemic on aspects of poverty and wellbeing, and the effectiveness of policies that have tried to mitigate socioeconomic consequences. Convened by the ‘Multi-Dimensional Poverty and Poverty Dynamics’ Working Group, we consider the degrees to which interventions have been informed by multidimensional understandings of poverty and wellbeing. While the pandemic is seen to mainly detrimental for the poor, consideration is given to the ways in which it also presents an opportunity to build back better. Are there signs of positive interventions where those living in poverty will emerge with their lives and wellbeing enhanced; more resilient, valued and embraced?

This panel is organised by the EADI Working Group ‘Multi-Dimensional Poverty and Poverty Dynamics


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Presentations

Brazilian Emergency Aid for Covid-19 Crisis: Impact on Informal Sector

Michele Romanello1,2

1Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC), Brazil; 2International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), The Netherlands

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, it has been known that, as most countries, Brazil would be affected by two major shocks: a health and an economic one. The measures of social isolation and the closure and interruption of several economic activities, necessary to contain the spread of the epidemic in the country, placed a huge portion of the economically active population at risk of unemployment, informality or even caused significant losses of monetary income.

This paper aims to determine the impact of the Brazilian emergency aid on the immediate relief of income loss and poverty for informal workers and entrepreneurs. The emergency aid is a benefit instituted in Brazil that provided 600 Reais (approximately US$118) per month (initially for three months, then extended to 8 months) between April and December 2020 to informal and low-income workers and individual micro-entrepreneurs. Acting outside the formal rules of the labour market, informal workers and entrepreneurs have no protection during periods of unemployment, loss of income or profit, and injury or illness (possibility that grows a lot during the pandemic). The aid's objective is to mitigate the economic impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For this purpose, the study uses the data from the Brazilian National Household Survey (PNAD) and the Covid-19 National Household Survey, collected between May and November 2020. The paper uses quantitative methods to achieve its aims. The methodologies used in this paper are difference in differences with Coarsened Exact Matching and Foster–Greer-Thorbecke (FGT) index. The former methodology offers the possibility to calculate the effect of the emergency aid on household income per capita for families where no members are working in the formal sector. The latter methodology, FGT index, is included into the analysis to see if there are less informal households below the poverty line and extreme poverty line after six months of receiving the aid, as well as if the inequality between the poor decreased.

The results from difference in differences with Coarsened Exact Matching indicate that the households that benefited from the aid obtained an increase in the average monthly income per capita of 235 Reais (about US$ 46) compared with the families that were not beneficiaries of the aid but had the characteristics for being. The results from the FGT index indicate that, from May 2020 to November 2020, emergency aid reduced poverty. There are improvements in the three indicators of FGT index: adjusted headcount ratio, adjusted poverty gap and adjusted Foster-Greer-Thorbecke measure.

Consequently, the results indicate a positive effect on the benefited households and suggest, from the point of view of formulation of public policies, the maintenance of emergency aid, since Covid-19 pandemic is still far from being overcome in the country.



An Index to Measure the Response of Latin American Governments to the Covid-19 Pandemic, from a Multidimensional Poverty Perspective.

Catalina Chacón Mejía2, Maria Nathalia Ramírez Chaparro1

1ISS, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands; 2Universidad Santo Tomás, Colombia

The situation in Latin America prior to the onset of the pandemic, with respect to poverty, indicates that a significant percentage of the population (25%) was in a situation of very high vulnerability to poverty, with incomes between 1 and 1.8 poverty lines, so that exogenous or vital shocks, even moderate, could lead these people to poverty. So far, most of the analysis of this situation has focused on explaining the impacts of COVID-19 by relating confinements and quarantines to increases in income-related poverty (monetary approaches). Simulations and projections with these types of indicators have been linked especially to the impact on jobs. However, it is the multidimensional poverty measurements that highlight the complexity of the scenario in which the region received the COVID-19 pandemic, considering that in addition to income, other dimensions that determine well-being were affected. This presented the enormous challenge of not only guaranteeing the protection of a minimum income for the poor, but also of designing effective measures to protect the poor from infection by the virus (in addition to isolation measures, and also taking into account the potential development or accentuation of other diseases and problems). For this reason, a comparison of multidimensional poverty and human development indices among Latin American countries will be made, as well as an index to measure the response of governments to the covid-19 crisis, focusing on three indicators related to multidimensional measurements: education, health, and employment. To determine this, the multivariate technique of principal component analysis will be employed, selecting the values of the first component -those that explain the greatest variance- like those that constitute the index. A methodology such as the one proposed allows us to broaden our knowledge of the current conditions of the countries, as well as serving as a guide to evaluating the most important problems according to what has been done so far.



The Impact of Conditional Cash Transfers on Household Livelihoods in a Challenging COVID Environment: Evidence from the South West Region

Christiana Vegah Abonge

UNIVERSITY OF BUEA, Cameroon

The current COVID-19 outbreak has led to a global economic decline with substantial implications on household livelihoods. Preliminary analysis of the disease highlights the dangers of the pandemic, particularly the fact that it has disrupted economic activities globally. While measures were put in place by the government of Cameroon to curb the spread of the pandemic, this caused heinous effects on income levels associated with cuts in employment rates across the country. The social distancing and quarantine measures put in place to offset and slow the spread of the pandemic, created a critical downturn that affected several sectors of the economy including the services sectors with adverse effects on the informal sector and the micro and small scale enterprise sector (MSE) with other likely ramifications on household livelihoods. The pandemic negatively affected entrepreneurial ventures in particular caused mainly by restrictions and challenges with mobility across the country. Some scant evidence confirm that while the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to affect business activities in general, the impact is more on the informal micro and small scale enterprise sector that employs women and the poor. Meanwhile, it also disrupts the normal day to day experiences of members of the community particularly through severe restrictions with mobility. The challenges posed by restrictions in mobility affect livelihood options of members of the community with related effects and consequences on meeting basic needs. Thus, the last few months of the pandemic have registered a burgeoning number of people living in poverty, characterized by malnutrition, and lack of access to basic needs of food, health and other household needs. Concerns about the growth in levels of poverty and increasing vulnerability during this challenging period has attracted the attention and efforts of donors and governments to promote conditional cash transfers in the country. These programmes have increasingly been recognised by the government and development agencies as an important component of poverty reduction and development during these challenging times; thus receiving increasing attention as one form of support to poor and vulnerable people especially rural women. Rural women and children particularly in poor households are often identified as one of a number of groups who could potentially benefit from this form of support. Meanwhile, Evidence on the impact of cash transfers in Cameroon is extremely scarce with very little information on its use and impact on the poor and vulnerable in the country. Guided by studies on cash transfers in different contexts in developing countries, the study considers social and economic impacts of both cash and in-kind transfers on the living standards of beneficiaries. It draws on the existing literature and discussion with a limited number of stakeholders to investigate the impact of conditional cash transfers on household livelihoods in the South West Region. It explores the perspectives of key stakeholders and targeted cash transfer programmes, examines their characteristics and ability to reach and benefit poor and vulnerable households. Data for this paper was generated through both quantitative and qualitative study using questionnaires and interviews. The study found little evidence to suggest that social assistance schemes are actively seeking to appropriately include the poorest of the poor and vulnerable as conditions attached to access transfers, such as group membership may unfairly exclude some vulnerable people. Drawing on empirical data from the study, it is evident that while the outreach of cash transfers may be limited, the scheme is able to enhance access to basic needs of food, health and school needs of household members of beneficiaries. Cash transfers though small are important thus, improving the outreach and frequency of cash transfer schemes is essential to reduce poverty.



 
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