Africa: COVID-19 Aid Falling Short
Rise in Poverty, Hunger Shows Need to Expand Social Protection
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for African governments to strengthen social protection systems and fulfill people’s rights to social security and an adequate standard of living. Many African governments introduced measures like cash transfers and food assistance in response to the rising poverty and hunger occasioned by the pandemic, but most households received no support. The World Bank forecasts that the Covid-19 crisis will have pushed an additional 29 million Africans into extreme poverty by the end of 2021.
“The Covid-19 crisis has wreaked havoc on the livelihoods of millions of households across Africa, leaving families hungry and desperate for help,” said Mausi Segun, Africa director at Human Right Watch. “African governments should urgently invest in the social protection systems needed to ensure that Africans can endure the pandemic’s devastating economic impact with dignity.”
Between March 2020 and August 2021, Human Rights Watch interviewed more than 270 people in Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda about the impact of the pandemic on access to food and livelihoods, and government efforts to respond. Researchers spoke to affected individuals and families, health workers, government officials, and representatives of nongovernmental organizations, international financial institutions, and bilateral donors, among others.
Photo courtesy of World Bank Photo Collection.