The COVID-19 health crisis is an economic crisis. Limiting social interactions has also limited economic interactions. The collapse in economic activity undermines livelihoods and increases extreme poverty and hunger. “Policy responses in developed countries…do not provide a good model for developing countries.” Developing countries with limited fiscal and institutional capacities are experiencing sharp drops in commodity prices, remittances, tourism, and trade. Extended blanket lockdowns risk widespread deprivation and unintended health consequences. Containment strategies must weigh health risks against long-term economic damage, and school closures that risk scarring a generation. Supporting livelihoods is crucial, and support from the international community is essential. Enabling individuals to be active economically in the formal and informal sectors is likely to be the only way to sustain livelihoods. “Containment should stop interactions that create the most contagion risk and allow interactions that do the most to reduce deprivation.” A smart approach to containment ensures continued access to food and critical health care, while limiting broad lockdowns to short periods of time. Effective messaging is essential to secure community support.
Note: IGC is based at the London School of Economics and partners with the University of Oxford.