COVID-19 and Global Poverty
Since early 2020, the entire globe has been battling the COVID-19 pandemic and attempting to address the outbreak properly. Most of the world’s population is currently under some form of social distancing as a part of a response to the outbreak. From scientific research to increased travel restrictions, almost every country is working on ways to boost the economy while managing the spread of the virus. However, COVID-19 has affected much more than the economy. Here are four ways COVID-19 and global poverty connect:

4 Ways COVID-19 and Global Poverty Connect

The Consumption of Goods and Services: For most developing countries struggling with poverty, much of their economies depend on commodities, such as exports. Food consumption represents the largest portion of household spending, and the increase in food prices and shortages of products affect low-income households. Countries that depend on imported food experience shortages. The increase in food prices could also affect the households’ inability to access other services such as healthcare, a major necessity during this time. These are two significant connections between COVID-19 and global poverty.
Employment and Income: The self-employed or those working for small businesses represent a large portion of the employed in developing countries. Some of these workers depend on imported materials, farming lands or agriculture. This requires harvest workers and access to local farmers’ markets to sell produce. Others work in the fields of tourism and retail. These fields require travelers, tourists and consumers — all of which lessen as COVID-19 restrictions increase. Without this labor income, many of these families (now unemployed) must rely on savings or government payments.
Weak Healthcare Systems: This pandemic poses a major threat to lower-middle-income developing countries. There is a strong correlation between healthcare and economic growth. The better and bigger the economy, the better the healthcare. Healthcare systems in developing countries tend to be weaker due to minimal resources including beds, ventilators, medicine and a below-average economy. Insurance is not always available for low-income families. All of this affects the quality of healthcare that those living within the poverty line receive. This is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Public Services: Low-income families and poor populations in developing countries depend on public services, such as school and public transportation. Some privatized urban schools, comprised of mainly higher-income families, are switching to online learning. However, many of the public rural schools receiving government funding do not have adequate resources to follow suit. This could increase the rate of drop out. Moreover, it will disproportionately affect poorer families since many consider education an essential incentive for escaping poverty. Aside from school, COVID-19 restrictions could prevent poorer families from accessing public transportation. For developing countries, public transportation could affect the ability of poorer families to access healthcare.

Moving Forward

There are many challenges that families across the globe face as a result of COVID-19. Notably, some organizations have stepped forward to help alleviate circumstances. The World Bank, Care International and the U.N. are among the organizations implementing programs and policies to directly target the four effects of COVID-19 mentioned above.

For example, the World Bank is continuously launching emergency support around the world to address the needs of various countries in response to COVID-19. By offering these financial packages, countries like Ethiopia, which should receive more than $82 million, can obtain essential medical equipment and support for establishing proper healthcare and treatment facilities. These financial packages constitute a total of $160 million over the next 15 months as a part of projects implemented in various countries, such as Mongolia, Kyrgyz Republic, Haiti, Yemen, Afghanistan and India.

– Nada Abuasi
Photo: Flickr

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Original Source: borgenproject.org

office of international disability rightsOne billion people, or over 15% of the world’s population, have some form of disability, according to The World Bank. Despite the widespread prevalence of disability, many people with disabilities across the world struggle to access basic services, public spaces and employment. This traps many people with disabilities in poverty and impairs their health. To address this issue, Representative Dina Titus (D-NV-1) introduced The Office of International Disability Rights Act in order to create the Office of International Disability Rights within the Department of State’s Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.

What Challenges Do People With Disabilities Face?

Disability intersects with a range of other issues, including education, poverty and health. Though 140 countries signed the Convention On The Rights Of The Child officially recognize the “the right of the child to education,” in practice this right often does not apply to children with disabilities.

Children with disabilities are less likely to have access to education than children without disabilities. This is because access needs for children with disabilities to understand educational materials, or even be able to navigate a school building, are not guaranteed in many nations. For example, unless children with physical disabilities have access to wheelchairs, ramps and accessible school rooms, they will be unable to fully participate in school. Without sufficient access to education, people with disabilities are disproportionately poor, are often unemployed and lack financial access to healthcare. According to the United Nations, 80% to 90% of working-age people with disabilities are unemployed.

Disability rights are particularly essential during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the United Nations, “barriers such as physical accessibility, barriers to implementing basic hygiene measures, affordability of healthcare, limitations on health insurance, and discriminatory laws and stigma, can be life-threatening in the midst of a pandemic.” Ensuring equal access to healthcare resources can help reduce the impact of COVID-19 on disabled people, many of whom live in poverty. This is where The Office of International Disability Rights Act comes in.

What would The Office of International Disability Rights Act Do?

The office would serve multiple purposes, including acting as the State Department’s advisor on disability issues, representing the U.S. within international governance bodies on the topic of disability rights and making sure that the State Department itself is inclusive of disabled people. The Office of International Disability Rights would coordinate with civil society organizations as well as the U.S. government at large and other governments to advance disability rights around the world.

To make sure that State Department practices follow disability rights guidelines, the State Department will create disability inclusion training for personnel and develop a formal disability inclusion policy. The Office of International Disability Rights would also collaborate with other offices of the State Department to ensure that disability rights violations are properly recorded in annual reports on human rights.

If Congress passes The Office of International Disability Rights Act, the Secretary of State will brief the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate on progress made on the above efforts, as well as any recommendations for legislative actions to advance disability rights.

Why Should International Disability Rights Be A U.S. Priority?

This bill has both domestic and foreign policy precedents. In 2010, the U.S. first appointed the Special Advisor for International Disability Rights at the Department of State. The advisor helped incorporate awareness of disability rights as part of Department policies and annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and Trafficking in Persons report. Thirty years ago, the U.S. passed the Americans with Disabilities Act to protect the rights of disabled people within the U.S. to access basic services, education, healthcare, workplaces and other public spaces.

While neither of these past initiatives has solved every disability rights issue, each helped build institutional capacity and an important framework for disability rights at home and abroad. The Office of International Disability Rights Act would help build on these initiatives, in a time when the unmet needs of people with disabilities are a quickly growing international concern.

– Tamara Kamis
Photo: Flickr

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Original Source: borgenproject.org