The spread of the 2020, COVID-19 pandemic has led to significant loss of human life worldwide and has created a much-complicated situation and an enormous challenge for the people. The change has affected many sectors of the population and these include, public health, food systems and the world of work. The economic and social disruption caused by the pandemic has been devastating for millions of people as they must cope with the risk of falling into extreme poverty. In addition, earlier in the year, The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the number of undernourished people, which currently stands at an estimated 690 million, may rise by up to 132 million by the end of the year taking the tally to 822 million, which could be disastrous situation for the world.
In contrast, millions of businesses have fallen under the of existential threat, a threat which has caused many businesses to shut down. Those who have adapted to the changing conditions are doing well, through E-commerce retailing. However, businesses who were not able to adapt had lost it all to the pandemic. In turn, WHO further discusses how nearly half of the world’s 3.3 billion global workforce were at a risk of losing their livelihoods in the initial stages of the pandemic and if it were not for tactical changes such as working from home, this number could have been much larger. Informal economy workers were at the most risk because the majority lack social protection and access to quality health care and have lost access to productive assets.
Without the means to earn an income during lockdowns, many are still unableto feed themselves and provide for their families. The COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected the livelihood of a lot of people in the world and if one isn’t able to earn anything because of the mass reductions in the work force, well the situation becomes very difficult, especially for developing economies such as Pakistan, India or Bangladesh, who simply cannot afford to shut down operations due to the fact that their economies are fairly weak to cope with a situation such as a pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has in turn affected the entire food system and has further made it harder for the common man to get access to much needed resources. Border closures, trade restrictions and confinement measures significantly impacted the farmers who were barred from accessing markets, including for buying inputs and selling their produce, and agricultural workers from harvesting crops, thus disrupting domestic and international food supply chains and reducing access to healthy, safe and diverse diets. The pandemic has literally annihilated jobs and placed millions of livelihoods at a major risk.
As breadwinners lose jobs, fall ill and die, the food security and nutrition of millions of women and men are under constant threat, with people in low-income countries, which are widely dependent on small-scale farmers and indigenous peoples, being hit most brutally. In Pakistan, Jazz was one of the major companies that had to reduce company employees to save the company from going under, they in turn, reduced 200 employees and hence, caused a stir in the media of Pakistan. Such examples can be found all over the world, especially in developing economies such as that of Pakistan. The pandemic has caused a lot of problems for the common man, who wishes to put food on the table for his family, which has now become a hail Mary of a task.
In contrast ABP News in India reported in August that, according to the state bank of India the country could overall suffer a loss of Rs 38 lakh crore in the current financial year, which is 16.9 percent of India’s GDP. This implies that the per capita income of every citizen of the country is estimated to be cut by about Rs 27,000. In other words, in the current financial year, every Indian’s pocket would bear a loss of Rs 27,000, as per SBI report. This was what was reported back in August and at the end of the financial year, we will perhaps find the truly devastating affect on the common man in India.
In the COVID-19 crisis food security, public health, and employment and labour issues, in particular workers’ health and safety, all have been majorly affected. Even after lockdowns were lifted from different countries, many people had to adhere to workplace safety and health practices in a bid to ensure access to decent work and the protection of labour rights in all industries which was crucial in addressing the humanity of the crisis. With the immergence of vaccines from companies such Pfizer and Maderna, it is more necessary now to take much needed and immediate purposeful action to save lives and livelihoods of the people and in turn, such companies as well as governments need to extend social protection towards universal health coverage and income support for those that have been most affected by the pandemic.
These include workers in the informal economy and in poorly protected and low-paid jobs, including youth, older workers, and migrants. In contrast, WHO also believes that particular attention must be put about women, who are over-represented in low-paid jobs and care roles. Different forms of support are key, including cash transfers, child allowances and healthy school meals, shelter and food relief initiatives, support for employment retention and recovery, and financial relief for businesses, including micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. In designing and implementing such measures it is essential that governments work closely with employers and workers.
These are some of the many problems that must be faced by the common man in any part of the world. The pandemic has truly affected a wide chunk of the population both health wise as well as socially. The pandemic has in turn create socially unstable times for the common man who finds it even more difficult to cope with his top priority, to provide for himself and his family. That right there is one of the biggest issues that any person in the world is facing right now. Through the COVID-19 pandemic we have not just lost a lot of lives, but with it, a lot of jobs as well. In these uncertain and challenging times all we can do is hope that this pandemic comes to a halt so that things normalize, and people could perhaps, return to their old jobs and businesses, could perhaps reopen creating opportunities for the labourforce. In addition, governments, health organizations and social organizations must join hands in order to create a much more stable world for those that have been affected most by the COVID-19 pandemic, we surely hope that with the new year, this pandemic finally comes to its inevitable end!