Welcome to OUR EARTH ISSUES a Geodialog Media LLC production
News turned on its axis.™
The world has started the process of recovering from the global Covid pandemic, but the lasting effects of Covid will be felt for some time and will largely be dictated by one's geographical location, as well as economic, racial and social status. And these effects will play out as poverty, mental issues and disparities with general health and housing.
And if you think you are immune to some of the harsher outcomes in the world based on your own pocket of safety due to strong economic or health standing, you are mistaken. The world is only as strong as its most challenged areas.
World Health Organization New Vaccines Introduction Medical Officer for the World Health Organization in Africa, Phionah Atuhebwe, has been widely quoted by Bloomberg news and other news outlets as saying that as long as the pandemic continues to rage among un-vaccinated populations, and new, more virulent or vaccinated-resistant strains are spawned, no one is safe. And according to the WHO, the global pandemic is unlikely to end in 2021.
And according to recent research from Science Mag (Science Advances 05 Feb 2021: Vol. 7, no. 6, eabe0997 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abe0997), how one is experiencing the pandemic is largely dependent on where people are located.
The first in a series on the subject, Our Earth Issues looks at how the issue of poverty breaks down on the global, regional, country, city and individual level. Indeed, place plays a major role in one's life experience.
"One of the most important insights of economics is that people live in poverty not because of who they are, but because of where they are. A person’s knowledge, their skills, and how hard they work all matter for whether they are poor or not – but all these personal factors together matter less than the one factor that is entirely outside of a person’s control: whether they happen to be born into a large, productive economy or not."
-- Max Roser, founder and director of Our World in Data (March 15, 2021)
The World Bank estimated that the global economy contracted by 4.3 percent in 2020, a turnabout of 6.8 percentage points and that the COVID-19 pandemic compounded factors of conflict and climate change that had already been slowing poverty reduction progress.
The International Monetary Fund has forecast faster than expected global economic growth in 2021 of 6.0 percent. Improvements won't be felt by everyone, however. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned of the risk that the crisis reverses years of progress in closing the gap between the rich and poor nations.
Before the pandemic hit, over than 40 percent of the global poor lived in economies affected by fragility, conflict and violence. That number will likely rise to 67 percent in the next decade, the World Bank says.
According to Pew Research Center, many are falling from middle class to poor in terms of economic status.
Pew's research showed the decline in the global middle class was centered in South Asia and in East Asia and the Pacific, halting expansion seen in the years before the global pandemic hit. South Asia, specifically India, along with Sub-Saharan Africa, accounted for most of the increase in poverty, reversing years of progress in those areas.
The World Bank data show middle-income countries may be home to 82 percent of the new poor. India and Nigeria will be significantly affected.
According to the World Bank, the "new poor” will likely:
Indeed, research at the global level (Science Mag, Science Advances 05 Feb 2021: Vol. 7, no. 6, eabe0997 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abe0997) showed pronounced declines in employment, income, and food security since April 2020 in several major world regions.
In particular, Science Mag indicated that economic shock in countries where people most "depend on casual labor to earn enough to feed their families—leads to deprivations that seem likely to generate excess future morbidity, mortality, and other adverse longer-term consequences."
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Covid-19 was confirmed to have reached the Democratic Republic of the Congo - one of the poorest countries in the world with only limited health care - in March of 2020. Making matters worse, the country has also seen a resurgence of Ebola.
(Image: The Monusco Force Intervention Brigade in the DRC takes measures to boost hygiene to help slow the spread of the Covid virus.)
(Photo credit: MONUSCO on Flickr - PHOTO DU JOUR DU 29 MARS 2020, CC BY-SA 2.0 .)
Antarctica was the last region to be invaded by the COVID-19 pandemic. In December of 2021, 36 people at the Chilean Bernardo O'Higgins research station on Isabel Riquelme Island tested positive. Concerns included what transmission could mean for Antarctica's wildlife.
(Photo credit: tone Monki - 100_9866.jpg.ok.jpg, CC BY 3.0.)
The Gaza Strip is one of the world's most densely populated areas. There, most live below the poverty line, with economic troubles largely due to a more than decade-long Israeli and Egyptian blockade cutting off travel and trade (NPR Feb, 4, 2021). In the image, Palestinian children carry pots as they wait to receive a meal prepared with ingredients obtained from donors wishing to help needy families iin an impoverished neighborhood in Gaza City, on February 1, 2021. (Photo by Mahmoud Khattab / INA Photo Agency / Sipa USA. Sipa via AP Images.)
In Barcelona, nearly half the people asking for financial and social help are doing so for the first time, largely due to the impacts of the pandemic (Euronews Dec. 11, 2020). In the image, firefighters assist 40-year-old José who has threatened to throw himself out of the window during an unannounced eviction in Briquets Street, 36 in the district of Nou Barris, Barcelona, Catalonia (Spain) on February 10, 2021. The firefighters and the EMS have also attended to an affected woman in the building who has fainted from a bilateral pneumonia derived from the Covid virus. José had been the owner of a bar that he lost, in addition to generating debts with Social Security due to the crisis of Covid. (10 FEBRUARY 2021;CORONAVIRUS;CRISIS;EVICTION;VULNERABLE PEOPLE;POVERTY Lorena Sopêna i Lòpez / Europa Press 02/10/2021 via AP.)
In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the local government has begun to distribute vaccines based on economic advantages, addressing the most disadvantaged zip code areas first. In the image, Hunger Task Force Workers distribute food Jan. 28, 2021, at McGovern Park in Milwaukee. The Republican-controlled Wisconsin Assembly has taken steps to repeal Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' mask mandate, a move that would jeopardize more than $49 million in federal food assistance. (Image credit: Associated Press/Morry Gash)
In Guernica, Buenos Aires, some who are living in poverty are defying the court system and occupying land. Around 2,500 individuals are living there illegally.
Guernica is no stranger to difficult circumstances. For many in the world, Guernica brings to mind the painting by Picasso that was created after the German aerial bombing of the Basque town.
Image: Slum created in Guernica, Buenos Aires. Photo credit: Wikimedia.
Quick border closures, high community compliance with public health measures and robust testing and contact tracing efforts have resulted in Australia faring better than most advanced economies (Reuters Feb. 26, 2021). The image shows a homeless man as he sits on the banks of the Yarra River during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on 18 April, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo credit: Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via the Associated Press.)
See further recommendations on individual region pages
The economic repercussions of the pandemic, on top of existing vulnerabilities, will make it hard for developing countries to bounce back quickly.
Coronavrus and poverty: Is there a link?
The Coronavirus pandemic has not affected all communities equally, with wealth appearing to be a major factor.
A one-off benefit is intended to help relieve millions of families hurt by the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Parents have lost their access to child care, pushing them out of the labor force and hindering the economic recovery. Children have gone without the classroom time needed for social and academic progress.
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Geodialog Media LLC creator Christine Marie Nielsen didn't think she'd be returning to her native city of Milwaukee (oft called the most segregated city in the U.S. in terms of socio-economic and racial lines) but because of family income constraints and a resulting need to help her parents, she does. While there, she looks into systemic problems and what makes the city tick, but she also finds herself being pulled back into a cycle of poverty.
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