Ever feel overwhelmed by the "latest" number for everything? I know I am. But I also want to stay informed as COVID-19 intensifies in Africa. So here is a quick virus update on what I am following:
- Almost 700,000 reported cases
- Nearly 14,400 reported deaths
- Equals 3% mortality rate.
The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the coronavirus pandemic on the continent is reaching "full speed."
What we are hearing from our partners in Africa:
- Proven infections require adequate testing tools. Africa does not have enough.
- The death rate, according to our sources, is much higher. This is because governments do not want to be seen as "hot spots" and many people die without ever being tested due to costs.
- The medical personnel to handle the influx of COVID patients is inadequate in most countries (2.2 per 1000 people).
- Social distancing is virtually impossible in the slums of major cities, as only the wealthy can afford to shelter in place.
And they are reporting on new issues as well as a result of the virus:
- Teenage pregnancy is on the increase.
- Domestic violence is on the increase.
- Insecurity is also on the increase due to so many jobs being lost. All schools are closed, teachers are not being paid, pastors are not being paid, as well as many other adults who have families to support.
Economic Lockdown and Poverty Growth
I recently received a blog from Dr. Jeffrey Bloem (PhD in Applied Economics), who helped me with the research I did in Kenya for DML (and his wife just helped me with the second research in Ghana!).
He wrote his blog on the effect of COVID-19 on Low and Middle Income Countries and it caught my attention for what he and other experts are seeing relating to Africa. (He gave me permission to quote him in this blog - he is quoting some others as well.)
Researchers are looking at three potential scenarios: containment by July 2020 (not likely), prolonged exposure through 2021, or a "worst-case" scenario with continued border closures in Sub-Saharan Africa. The last two will lead to devastating outcomes for countries in Africa.
- Economic growth rate, measured by GDP will go negative, from -5.7% to -7.65%.
- Household income is expected to plummet, prices increase, and employment fall. The poor are expected to be disproportionately affected.
- Africa has experienced great economic growth over the past few decades. But much of this gain could be lost over the next two years.
- Estimates show that nearly 70,000,000 (seventy million) people will fall back below the poverty line. What took decades to achieve could be wiped out in a matter of a few years. Africa will see more devastation than other geographical areas. See chart at end of blog.
So what can be done? Aside from continuing to encourage social distancing, it is difficult to say. There needs to be coordinated efforts from organizations working in these countries.
Our partners have been helping to get various businesses started to help fight COVID-19, from farming to soap and hand sanitizer production, and beyond. We have begun to move much of our training online. This has helped prepare trainers to build their capacity to help businesses be more effective and efficient.
The DML teams sees this as an opportunity. With government approval and encouragement, they are setting up hand washing stations, delivering needed supplies to the poor, and working with both Christian and Muslim communities. From Burkina Faso to Tanzania, this has led to greater openness of previously closed communities (more on this exciting development later).
Let us keep praying for our brothers and sisters in Africa. For more information on what DML is doing to respond to this crisis, please go to www.disciplingmarketplaceleaders.org.
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