GOAL has published a discussion paper outlining the urgent need to address the growing secondary impacts of COVID-19 in its 13 countries of operation.
Brave and bold action is needed by those in power to tackle the emerging secondary threats of COVID-19 in the Global South. These include food insecurity, the loss of livelihoods, the severe strain on already crumbling health systems and deepening inequalities for women and girls.
In the paper entitled ‘Limiting the Impact of Covid-19 on the world’s most vulnerable’, GOAL has identified six key areas which it says need to be at the heart of any integrated international response to address the crisis. GOAL is asking that the clarion call of ‘Leaving No-One Behind’, which is central to the Sustainable Development GOALS (SDGs), must now be similarly applied to how the global community deals with this pandemic and the resulting economic and social impacts.
GOAL is calling for action in the following areas:
- Humanitarian NGO workers and essential goods must be exempt from movement restrictions. GOAL is also calling for humanitarian response plans to be fully funded and that warring parties heed the global ceasefire call led by the UN Secretary General.
- Commitment is needed to long-term investment in building resilient and adaptive national health systems. Universal and non-discriminatory access to medical treatments, equipment and vaccines must be made available to all. Community healthcare initiatives, which were so effective in the fight against Ebola, must be at the centre of the world’s response.
Food and Nutrition Security
- Governments must act quickly to implement social protection programmes to help millions who are at risk of food insecurity. Crises within the current Covid-19 crisis should also be addressed, such as the current locust outbreak in the Horn of Africa. Left untreated, this outbreak will cause up to $8.5 billion worth of loss damage by the end of 2020.
Livelihoods, Resilience and Economic Recovery
- All debt payable in 2020 and 2021 must be cancelled until at least the end of 2021 for the poorest countries. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by all UN Member states in 2015, should be at the heart of any rebuild, to tackle climate injustice and build more sustainable communities.
Gender and Protection
- National governments must urgently be supported to work with communities at a local level to prevent a sharp rise in gender-based violence and child abuse cases and ensure the continuation of protection services.
Official Development Assistance and Finance for Development
- Ireland must maintain its existing investment to Overseas Development Assistance by protecting the current budget levels and making progress towards spending 0.7% of GNI on overseas aid. GOAL also recommends that the EU agree on an ambitious external action heading in the EU Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF) 2021-27 and that the humanitarian aid allocations are increased.
The head of the GOAL COVID-19 Taskforce and GOAL Deputy CEO, Mary Van Lieshout, says: “There are real concerns that Covid-19 will reverse the development gains the global community has already achieved towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. The highest degree of solidarity, and international and regional cooperation, to protect people across the globe is urgently required.”
“While we are all responding to the immediate challenge of stopping the spread of the virus in the world’s most vulnerable communities, actions to limit the devastating medium to longer term impact must be taken now.”
As of mid-June almost 4,000 confirmed deaths have been recorded across GOAL’s 13 countries of operation. GOAL says the figure is likely to be much higher, with limited capacity for testing and reporting obscuring the true scale of the virus across much of the global south. Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the virus is now ‘‘accelerating’’ across the African continent.
The WHO also warned that a steep rise in cases could overwhelm many parts of Africa, a region that already suffers from a sub-standard infrastructure and deep poverty.