A new report has revealed that the incidence of food poverty of urban households remained high in August/September of 2020.
Among a sample of urban households interviewed, the results indicate that food poverty incidence was 11 percentage points (pp) higher in periods after the lockdown than in pre-pandemic era.
This follows from an increased share in the number of respondents who run out of money to buy food. This number of people affected, surged by 34.6 percentage points from February to April 2020.
The report attributes the worsened food poverty levels to the manner of implementation of the partial lockdown by the government; low incomes of households, loss of jobs, deepened inequalities and vulnerabilities.
Particularly, the report recommends that in the future, containment policies must come alongside protective measures that address the needs of those at risk of being left behind.
The research was conducted by a joint collaboration between researchers of the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER) and the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), University of Ghana, Legon.
The survey involved more than 600 workers in different cities throughout Ghana. The aim was to assess the immediate and near-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on labour market outcomes.
The report provides novel insights on how the pandemic and related policy measures have impacted the livelihoods of workers and their families.
Areas of critical concern highlighted include government response measures, the economic impact of the pandemic, and labour market impact.
This new report corroborates the findings of the Ghana Statistical Service COVID-19 business tracker survey waves I and II.
Findings of the report
According to the report, about two-thirds of respondents (62.6 percent) reported unemployment or loss of income as the aspect that impacted them the most. Furthermore, 84.3 percent of respondents indicated a loss of household income.
Also, 41.9 percent said their household had lost its main source of income largely derived from the labour market.
Huge job losses registered in areas or districts where the partial lockdown came into force. Accordingly, only one out of three districts, representing 34.5 percent continued working throughout April 2020. This compares with two out of three districts, representing 66.7 percent in no-lockdown districts during the period.
More so, two-thirds of the respondents, representing 67.9 percent indicated that workplace and business closures due to government’s regulations was the cause for this big bane on economic activity.
The report emphasizes that whilst the recovery in employment has been strong, it has been largely uneven. Employment recorded as low as 14.7 percentage points compared to pre-pandemic level. Although the gap in employment closed during the lifting of the restrictions, it did not change as much. Specifically, 23.7 percent of those who had stopped work in April were still out of employment after restrictions eased (i.e. 46.9% in April 2020 and 23.2% in August/September 2020).
Consequently, the report highlights that average weekly earnings still reduced by 18.2 percent as at this time. The impact was felt the most by low-income earners in informal work, particularly women.
While the report presents insights into the near-term impact of the pandemic, it has far more reaching implications for the future. More importantly, it presents implications on the country’s progress in reducing and mitigating pressures to poverty and inequality.