Home and broke: a looming disaster in the face of covid-19 pandemic.

Fa calendar 16 grey April 17, 2020   
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With continued economic shut down, being broke at home might unleash yet, another pandemic – hunger and starvation. 

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Photo credit: Malcom Garret

On 24 March, two days before imposing curfew, my friend Chris, who worked as a waiter in a restaurant in Nairobi town, informed me that they had been laid off until the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) could be contained. His main worry and his biggest dilemma were whether to stay at home and keep safe, or stay at home on an unpaid leave, and starve. Only one option was under his control. Chris is one of the many employees whose jobs have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Countries across the world have responded to the pandemic by imposing restrictions, such as issuance of travelling bans, cancellation of schools and other public gatherings. The lockdown has rendered the factors of production immobile, thereby strangulating the economy. Businesses have shut down.  Employees have been laid off - for one simple reason; there are no customers to be served.

According to a new assessment  by International Labor Organization (ILO), the economic and labor crisis created by the COVID 19 pandemic could increase global unemployment by almost 25 million. With sectors such as manufacturing and supply Chain Company, and tourism amongst the first to be hit hard with the unprecedented turn of things.

Consumer based service providers are on the losing end during this fatal crisis. Those employed in recreational sectors such as theatres, restaurants and hair salons have not been spared too. Take for instance, Chris, who relies on waiter tips more than the monthly salary, has been left with no alternative.

The public travelling sector, the Matatu’s and the Uber, is facing similar predicaments. Social distancing has seen to it the reduction of carrying capacity up to 60%, with majority of the people working from home.

The Government did well to advice on working from home. However, the question is, how practical is it in a country where internet connection, in some parts of the country and households is a luxury? How for instance, can one expect a teacher to effectively work from home? According to Darwinian philosophy, the law of natural selection, the lockdown could escalate the divide between the rich and the poor, where the rich are likely to survive lockdowns and curfews, and the poor will fight the urges of going out to make ends meet.

However, not all sectors are damned. Sectors such as retail supermarkets and drug stores, seem to be reaping benefits, and are hiring for positions. With speculations of a total lockdown in the coming weeks, consumers are stockpiling necessities. Social distancing has prompted supermarkets, to do home deliveries, to reduce congestion at the counters, with online delivery being effective.

In summary, many jobs and millions of cash have been lost since the COVID-19 outbreak. Employers are to send employees on a paid leave in cases where working from home is a viable option. Otherwise, with continued economic shut down, being broke at home might unleash yet, another pandemic – hunger and starvation.

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    Emmanuel | April 22, 2020 12:15

    For sure even govt should atleast distribute some food to hand to mouth earners for instance matatu drivers n barbers

    Alfred Mike | April 17, 2020 20:04


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