All 2 entries tagged Global South
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December 08, 2020
IDP Camp, Wassa Community, Apo, Abuja, Nigeria in February 2020
Written by Ruth Duniya
From the Global North to the Global South, regardless of social classifications, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected us all. The trending mantra- ‘we are all in this together’ resonates across borders. The socio-economic conditions of millions of people globally have been adversely affected by the pandemic. Women in the Global South, many of whom were already living below the poverty line are the most affected, as many of these women are responsible for providing food and means of livelihood for their families. Those in the rural areas, who before the advent of COVID-19 relied on subsistence farming, and the urban poor who depended on petty trading for daily income to feed their families, are the most impacted by the pandemic.
Evidence from Nigeria indicates how women are being impacted by COVID-19. They have lost their meagre livelihood during the pandemic. The food security of poor households was significantly threatened due to restrictions on movement, these women who usually fend for their families from their daily income are unable to provide household care. Women in the North Eastern part of the country are most affected by the pandemic. Faced with challenges, such as sexual and gender-based violence, as well as poverty brought about by the Boko Haram insurgency these women and their families most of whom are currently living in Internally Displaced Peoples (IDP) camps are confronted with increased food insecurity. Living in overcrowded IDP camps, most of these women are in daily search of menial jobs to provide for their families as support from government and other non-state agencies has not adequately addressed the food insecurity within displaced communities. COVID-19 restrictions on movement had made it difficult for displaced women to find jobs. The pandemic has also taken a toll on the small-scale enterprises these women were doing to support their families. The condition has become so deplorable such that the menace of street begging among disadvantaged children which is common practice in parts of Northern Nigeria has increased drastically. Some women whose source of livelihood has been depleted due to the pandemic have resorted to street begging along with their children in major cities across Nigeria.
The socio-economic challenges of women in, and beyond, Nigeria as a direct consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic requires increased collaborative actions by state-governments, the private sector and international organisations, particularly, UN agencies such as the UNDP, UNICEF and UNFPA as they are agencies for development, children’s welfare and maternal health respectively. First, there should be firm action on domestic violence. Laws against gender-based violence in a developing country like Nigeria need to be more stringent and adequately enforced. The existing law in Nigeria to ensure justice and protection from any form of sexual and gender-based violence against persons in private and public life is the Violence Against Person’s Prohibition Act (VAPP) signed into law in 2015. Unfortunately, 5 years since the Act was passed into law, only 13 states including Nigeria’s capital city- FCT, out of 36 states in the country have adopted this law. In addition, many cases of gender-based violence are underreported, as many victims do not report their experiences out of fear of being victimised in society. Relevant agencies, such as the Nigerian Police, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the National Council for Women Societies Nigeria (NCWS) need to ensure victims safety is guaranteed so that sexual and gender-based violence cases are reported without the risk of stigmatisation.
Secondly, the humanitarian relief response should be stepped up as many women and their families from low-income background most affected by the pandemic need to be supported with palliatives measures, such as- food items (for the immediate nutrition of their families) and finance in form of a grant scheme (to enable them start up micro-businesses to support themselves and their families post-COVID-19). Although, the government of Nigeria through the Ministry for Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development with support from the private sector and international organisations have currently put in place some measures to assist their population during the COVID-19 pandemic, these strategies have so far not been sufficient. For instance, it is alleged that many among the poor in Nigeria have received little support, while some are yet to receive any support from the government.This can be attributed to one key factor- accountability deficit on the part of the relevant government agencies responsible for COVID-19 response, particularly the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development already shrouded in allegations of corruptionon their handling of COVID-19 emergency funds. Before the advent of COVID-19, corruption has been identified as a major limitation to Nigeria’s development.
Admittedly, the world was not prepared for a pandemic. This is evident in the way COVID-19 has affected most economies globally, from developed economies to developing economies such as Nigeria. The pre-existing socioeconomic challenges in Nigeria which includes, high rate of unemployment and inadequate basic social services, such as healthcare have been worsened by COVID-19, affecting mostly the poor and vulnerable groups, particularly, women and children. In view of this challenges, partnership arrangements with development agencies and the private sector, along with a strong political will by the Nigerian government is imperative to ensure that the poor and most vulnerable in society are adequately supported socio-economically in the short term and post-COVID-19. Going forward, as Nigeria, and indeed other developing economies have put together short term economic and social development measures to cushion the impact of COVID-19 on their societies, long term economic and social development policies should also be drafted as a matter of urgency to ensure recovery and sustainable growth beyond COVID-19.
May 27, 2020
Authors: Jonathan Crush, Ann Fitz-Gerald, Hallelujah Lulie, Briony Jones, Anja Osei, Shirin Rai, Rachel Robinson
Editors: Briony Jones and Maeve Moynihan
This post is part of a larger collection covering the Global Insights webinar series, hosted jointly by Balsillie School of International Affairs (Canada), the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Warwick (UK), the Institute for Strategic Affairs (Ethiopia), American University’s School of International Service (USA), and Konstanz University (Germany). Global Insights webinars take place every Thursday at 16:00h (BST). You can access a recording of this week’s webinar here.
COVID-19 is highlighting existing inequalities, exacerbating differences between the Global North and Global South, and bringing to light the gendered, racialised, and ethicised differences in the way people experience and can respond to crisis. COVID-19 is a health crisis, but it is also a crisis of security, governance, and democracy. The following post summarizes reflections through five questions and five policy recommendations.
In what ways does the pandemic in the Global South differ from that in Europe and North America?
Both scholars and journalists have been quick to highlight the differing experiences between the Global North and the Global South during the pandemic. A more nuanced approach that acknowledges similarities between the Global North and South as well as variations within the Global South itself is necessary. Within the Global South, economic consequences may be more severe, health burdens are greater, infrastructures for regulating populations are weaker, and trust in political institutions is lower, all of which may affect the capacity of governments to deal with the crisis. However, the population in the Global South is younger, less urbanised, has a history of dealing with health emergencies, and has fewer severe infections and fatalities thus far. This may just reflect a time lag and under-reporting in the Global South, but it may also demonstrate forms of resilience and early action which are not present in the Global North. There have been inspiring and effective responses throughout the Global South that disprove many flawed portrayals of the region, including effective food and resource distribution, accurate and consistent global health messaging, and the preservation of human rights in a time of crisis.
How is the COVID-19 pandemic in the North affecting the Global South?
The possibility of declining capital flow for development was a recurring topic throughout the webinar discussion. This decline encompasses remittances, foreign direct investment, and overseas development aid. In 2019, over 250 million migrants collectively remitted over $600 billion to their home countries. Remittances fell by 7% during the 2008 financial crisis, and the World Bank estimates that they have already dropped by 20% during the pandemic. The closure of borders in the Global North has already affected migration and remittance flows. As demand for clothing and other consumer goods declines, factory workers in the Global South have lost jobs without any security or pay. Support for foreign direct investment to Africa has already declined, and argued that the 0.7 Gross Domestic Product development assistance commitment may soon come under pressure as well. Such dramatic decreases in capital flow to the Global South will have a sustained impact on economies there. The US government’s attempts to defund the World Health Organisation exemplifies how governments may use COVID-19 as an excuse to limit funding to multilateral organisations. These tendencies towards isolationism, as well as neo-colonial trends as the Global North serve as concerning signs of what may come.
What is the response to COVID-19 taken by the South and what are we learning from it?
A variety of responses from the Global South have arisen so far, including quick and effective responses which demonstrate strong leadership at a time of crisis. National and local context drives this variation, but histories of responding to health crises and activism around the right to health impact it as well, as we see in Brazil for example. The Africa Centre for Security Studies has pointed to innovative responses such as Presidential Task Forces which mobilise professionals from different disciplines to share best practices like mobile testing. Governments in the South initially responded to the informal sector with tight spatial control, but later reversed this decision realising its vital importance for food security, among other aspects of daily life. In Addis Ababa for example, where around 40% of the economy is informal, the application of lockdown has to be different to contexts that we might see in London or Paris. In the context of the Global South, many populations see the lockdown response as more painful than the pandemic, leading to protest. As governments respond to this opposition, monitoring and observing in future elections will be affected, which may further cement authoritarian tendencies in government and increased dissatisfaction among populations.
Many countries in the global south are pursuing far-reaching democratization agenda. How is/could COVID-19 impact on these agenda?
The Global South is in a liminal moment in which xenophobic and populist politics may intensify, or a more collectivist political approach will triumph where states, civil society organisations, and multilateralism win out. For example, there is evidence in India of civil society organisations providing the much-needed food to the poor during lockdown, however there is also evidence of the pandemic being communalised to target India’s Muslim populations. This moment shows how the state can mobilise crises to shut down democratic critique in the name of urgency. Scholars, practitioners, and policy-makers must remain vigilant in order to guard against these potential threats to democracy, particularly in states where authoritarian tendencies are using such restrictions to quash opposition activism. In Senegal, for example, a recent study found that more than 80% of the population is suffering from the economic conditions due to lockdown, yet more than 80% approve of the government measures and are ready to comply. The pandemic and responses to it have and will continue to exacerbate inequalities surrounding gender and sexual orientation, in particular. For example, access to contraception and abortions is reduced and governments with a pre-exiting anti-LGBTQI stance continue to target sexual and gender minorities, but access to community support services are diminished. We have yet to see if this will also offer a powerful rallying cry for populations to demand more from the state.
How will/has COVID-19 impact(ed) Security Issues in the Global South?
In many places, the pandemic has emboldened state power and created an entry point to consolidate national consensus. The pandemic threatens security surrounding food, justice, equality, and more. In 2019 the FAO estimated that almost 2 billion people globally were either moderately or severely food insecure. Lockdowns have disrupted supply chains, reduced income, and increased food insecurity amongst the most vulnerable as the Hungry Cities Project has identified. The joint food and economic crises are forcing governments in some nations to relax lockdown restrictions before the health pandemic allows. The panel also highlighted the way in which the pandemic is widening the justice gap. In a report in 2019, the Task Force on Justice found that 1.5 billion people globally have a justice problem which they cannot resolve and that 4.5 billion people globally are excluded from the opportunities that the law provides. Current emergency measures may lead to, or indeed themselves be, violations of human rights for the general population and racial, ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities. A coordinated response from all justice actors – local, national and international, civil society and private sector – is necessary to independently monitor these measures, create safe zones in violence hotspots, and generate people-centred data on needs.
Key Conclusions: Five pieces of advice for policy-makers
1. Development agencies in the Global North should design aid programming that incorporates social care and social work. Governments in both the Global North and Global South should include increased resources for social care in relevant budgets, and recognise the value of care work being undertaken, as well as the gendered dimensions as women take up the burden of additional care work due to COVID-19.
2. Governments in both the Global North and Global South should invest resources in social infrastructure and build strong social welfare systems, considering policy tools such as universal welfare provision, basic income, wage protections schemes and public childcare provision.
3. Policy makers in governments as well as practitioners in development agencies should take an interdisciplinary approach including, but not limited to, health expertise.
4. Fund independent data collection, including a focus on people-centred data.
5. National governments and multilateral organisations should use this opportunity to create national consensus and dialogue.
Through these five pieces of advice for policymakers, the topic of COVID-19 and the Global South can spur conversation about how we understand the effects of the pandemic, how we construct narratives of the ‘crisis’ of the pandemic, and how we respond as scholars, practitioners and policy makers to ameliorate the impact of the crisis. While leadership, innovation and best practices are visible in the Global South, resource needs and declining development aid are growing. A multilateral response in conjunction with local and national action are of utmost importance to address the complexities and variations in the Global South at this time of crisis.