The devastating socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have stalled some of the key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is unlikely that the region will end poverty, ensure gender equality, promote decent and equitable work, and reduce inequality within and between countries by the target date of 2030. This is one of the main findings of “Readjusting the path towards equity,” a recent study by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
The report confirms that COVID-19 increased unemployment, reduced the income of the poorest families, forced more than one million children to leave school, reduced labor protection, and worsened inequality and gender violence.
Head of IFRC’s Disaster, Climate, and Crisis unit in the Americas, Roger Alonso, said: “This study helps us understand the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the most vulnerable people’s income, access to food and well-being. The findings underline the fact that a full social and economic recovery will take years. To avoid irreversible levels of vulnerability, it is crucial to implement an inclusive and fair recovery, which also anticipates the effects of the current food and fuel price increases resulting from the conflict in Ukraine.”
According to the report, the loss of income of the poorest populations increased food insecurity resulting in 60 million people suffering from hunger in the first year of the pandemic. That same year, 23 million women were pushed into poverty and since then, cases of domestic and sexual violence and human trafficking have increased.
In addition, 10% of jobs in the region were lost during the pandemic, and 30% of these have not yet been recovered. Meanwhile, 51% of the migrant population surveyed by IFRC said they lost their jobs and 53% of those who kept them, saw their income reduced or were not paid.
This IFRC analysis is based on a literature review, interviews with experts and representatives of international organizations, as well as 1,825 surveys conducted in Argentina, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, and Venezuela.
Co-author of the report and IFRC Livelihoods Recovery Officer in the Americas, Daniela Funez, said: ”Listening to the communities we serve is a priority for the Red Cross network. That’s what allows us to know their needs in-depth and, in this case, the data they provided us confirms the projections made by international agencies about the effects of COVID-19 on the SDGs’.”
To address the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic, the IFRC suggests prioritizing attention to the most vulnerable groups, incorporating a gender approach in humanitarian action, and contributing to reducing the effects of climate change. It also calls for increased investment in vaccination, protection, and livelihood protection, a key issue to close the 60% funding gap needed to continue responding to the medium and long-term effects of COVID-19.