Friday 17 September 2021

Isolation with great inequality, warns State of the Nation

Poverty, overcrowding, houses in poor condition and connection limit many Costa Rican families during the health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic

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The measure issued by the central government that the population” stay at home” to avoid a massive spread of COVID-19 is experienced unevenly by Costa Rican families, according to an article published by the State of the Nation report.

Scene from the Triangle of Solidarity, in Tibás, precario (slum). Extreme poverty in the urban area presented an increase of 0.8 points (now it is 5.6%). It is a significant rise, according to INEC.

The analysis developed by researchers Pamela Jiménez Fontana, Natalia Morales Aguilar and Rafael Segura Carmona shows that the sociodemographic and economic gaps that exist in Costa Rica have a greater impact on the most vulnerable families.

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When it comes to physical distancing for long periods, not everyone can face it in the same way, given that of the 1.6 million households in the country, 9% are homes in poor condition and 2% are overcrowded (more than 3 people per bedroom).

“Approximately 15% of the houses are less than 40 square meters (430 square feet), while 27% exceed 100 square meters (1,070 square fee), according to data from the Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos (INEC) – National Institute of Statistics and Censuses, in addition, it is estimated that 104,000 homes (7%) do not have access basic services such as water, electricity and solid waste management,” Morales said.

Added to this situation, said Segura, “there are many negative effects related to physical distancing, which can be alleviated by remote connectivity, through digital tools”.

The reality is that in 79% of the country’s highest-income population, there is a computer at home, but it is only possible for 25% of people with fewer resources. And 40% of Costa Rican homes do not have Internet access, either by cable, fiber optics or landline telephone.

Minimum needs

Also, during the stay at home, not all families have the same possibilities of obtaining food or using home delivery services, given that some 225,900 households (21% of the population ) were already in poverty, before the health crisis. Of these, 93,500 did not even have the minimum income to cover their basic food needs.

The situation puts the members of Costa Rican households who have probably had limited possibilities to feed themselves, at a disadvantage.

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“It is clear that the sanitary and physical distancing measures that the Government has implemented in recent weeks are aimed at avoiding a collapse of the health system and having the fewest number of deaths, however, the sociodemographic gaps make the way facing it is very different for families”, explained Jiménez.

Precisely, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLA) issued a special report, in which it analyzes the main economic and social effects of the pandemic in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Alicia Bárcena, director of ECLAC, pointed out that prior to this situation, the region would grow to a maximum of 1.3% during 2020, but with the crisis, the forecast changed and a fall in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is expected.

“COVID-19 will affect the region due to the decrease in economic activity of its main trading partners; by the fall in prices of primary products; disruption of global value chains; the lower demand for tourism services (one of the most affected sectors) and intensification of risk aversion and worsening global financial conditions,” explained Bárcena.

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All these elements will affect each country to a greater or lesser extent, but the truth is that the latent inequalities will be those that mark the development of each population sector.

ECLAC’s analysis coincides with the State of the Nation report in Costa Rica, in which, given the economic and social inequalities in the region, the effects of unemployment will disproportionately affect the poor and the vulnerable strata of the middle income.

“The crisis is likely to increase informal employment as a survival strategy. In 2016, 53.1% of workers in Latin America and the Caribbean worked in the informal sector; poorer families are likely to send their children to the labor market, which will increase child labor rates,” the ECLAC report details.

Read here the State of the Nation “Las desigualdades que enfrentan los hogares en cuarentena” report (in Spanish).

 

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"Rico" is the crazy mind behind the Q media websites, a series of online magazines where everything is Q! In these times of new normal, stay at home. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

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