Welcome to CENFACS’ Online Diary!
15 April 2020
Post No. 139
The Week’s Contents
• Mid-April 2020 Message of Hopes during the Covid-19 Crisis
• Protection Key Note 3: Protection of Poor, near Poor and Lower-middle Incomes
• Self-protection in the Cases of Human Insecurity and Coronavirus in Africa
… and much more!
~ Mid-April 2020 Message of Hopes during the Covid-19 Crisis
We hope that everybody managed to pass the Easter week-end healthily and safely despite the lockdown we are all in.
We also hope that those who are working at this exceptional time to keep everybody healthy and safe as well as to maintain the economy working is receiving the appropriate support they need to continue their work and life.
We shall carry on to engage with you whether you are self-isolated or confined or locked down or working or just staying home during this time. Our engagement will be via CENFACS’ various physically contactless means.
We trust that everybody is continuing to follow the proscribed health measures and safety guidance to stop the spread the coronavirus pandemic where they are based to save lives and healthcare systems.
We take this opportunity to thank everybody who has been supportive to CENFACS at this turbulent time for all of us. We particularly thank our essential volunteers who are incredibly helping harder than ever to keep our protection month and campaigns alive during the coronavirus pandemic crisis.
For those who think that CENFACS’ coronavirus-related initiatives making CENFACS’ Cube of Protection may be of any help to them or people around them, please feel to text, to email, to phone or complete the contact form with your or their request. CENFACS’ Cube of Protection brings together these coronavirus-related initiatives that are intended to help poor, vulnerable people and incapacitated Africa-based organisations.
We look forward to your or their request. After receiving your/their request or query, CENFACS will get back to you or them.
Please STAY HEALTHY and SAFE.
~ Protection Key Note 3: Protection of Poor, near Poor and Lower-middle Incomes
The month of Protection is still in progress as we started the third protection key note. This note, which is about protecting modest incomes, will focus on poor, near poor and lower-middle incomes.
As many of you can notice in this time of coronavirus pandemic for example, many incomes and earning capacities of people have been affected, even destroyed for some. Many businesses have closed, some of them even closed down. Many of the activities that have been considered as non-essential have stopped operating and some of them have even disappeared.
These stop, closure and disappearance of activities could mean that the incomes associated with them have also vanished. Amongst those incomes are the poor, near and lower-middle ones. This leads to the key message of the need for protection of modest incomes, and amongst them the poor, near poor and lower-middle ones.
Under the Main Developments section of this post, you will find further materials about this third Protection Key Note.
~ Self-protection in the Cases of Human Insecurity and Coronavirus in Africa
Should people protect themselves or surrender their protection matters to somebody else or do both?
There are always areas of protection that people can handle by themselves, just as there are others which are taken control by those who are qualified to do it for them. There are as well areas of protection in which people and protection institutions can get together to organise a collective protection in the forms of international, national, regional, local and community protections.
For this month of protection at CENFACS, we have added self-protection. There are many self-protection methods or approaches. In the context of our work, we have selected two cases of self-protection which are: self-protection against insecurity and self-protection to mitigate the life-threatening and -destroying effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
2020 Actions on Protection against Insecurity with Poor People Taking their Own Protection in their Own Hands: Case of the Burkina Faso
There are cases where people are left alone without protection in front of the crisis. It happened in December 2019 and at the beginning of 2020 in Burkina Faso whereby the local authorities where there was insecurity were not able to match their protection logistics with weaponry of those who brought insecurity to civilians. Because the local authorities did not have the capacity to confront those who brought insecurity and sporadic violence, local people organised their own security and protection to challenge the insecurity level they were in.
Self-protection against the mounting damaging effects of the Covid-19 Shock
Due to the enormity of challenge that the coronavirus pandemic has posed on government resources, unpreparedness and public finances in Africa; people have started to organise themselves in being more creative and innovators, for example by making their own household face masks, indigenous hand gels, techniques to disinfect their households. In brief, they have become self-protected while leaving other levels of protection (like medical, clinical, epidemiological, etc.) that needs to be handled by the experts to the hands of health ministries (governments), hospitals and medical centres, finance ministries (for income protection), etc.
For any enquiries or queries about the key message on self-protection, just contact CENFACS.
~ Coronavirus Donations, Pledges and Gifts Needed!
Help CENFACS fight the Coronavirus together with you this Spring
You can donate or pledge or make a gift aid declaration to help CENFACS’ in its Charitable Response to the Coronavirus (CRC) or Charitable Fight Against the Coronavirus (CFAC).
CRC or CFAC is a CENFACS’ contribution via its supporters to the global effort to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Any of the donations, pledges and gifts given will help the coronavirus-affected poor people in Africa.
To support, just contact CENFACS by quoting or asking the Charitable Response to the Coronavirus (CRC) or Charitable Fight Against Coronavirus (CFAC).
CRC or CFAC is a fundraising campaign set up by CENFACS to support the coronavirus-stricken poor people in Africa.
~ Life-saving and –renewing coronavirus experiences during the Easter Season
At the moment, there are many fatalities just as many lives that have been saved from the Coronavirus pandemic. There are countless experiences to hear and tell. This is part of the uniqueness of Spring 2020. There are as well lives that need rebuilding following the experiences some people had with the coronavirus, especially those who managed to survive from it or lost their jobs.
Besides the above, at this time each person may be going through one of these experiences: self-isolation, confinement, lockdown, staying home, working from home, social distancing protection, shielding, working as a key worker, putting your lives at high risk for others, etc.
Each of us has a unique experience or story to tell and share from the coronavirus pandemic. Telling and sharing our coronavirus-related experiences make us stronger as a community. We can learn more from each of us and look after each other in this way. We can develop new solutions, plans, projects and programmes to deal with issues that may stem from these coronavirus-related experiences.
If you have any coronavirus-related experience that you may find useful to tell and share, please let us and others know your experience.
~ Covid-19 and Africa’s Public Finances Management
The financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic continues as Africa is tirelessly working to avoid in becoming the future epicentre of the pandemic. In this fallout, there is a question of financing the Covid-19 bill. However, in its attempt to avoid being the future epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic, Africa needs to sort out its long term pending problem of public finances management to keep the momentum in the battle against the pandemic.
Indeed, public finances management is always being a challenging problem for Africa despite the waves of processes of liberal political democratisation we saw in recent years. We have noticed some kinds of openness and transparency, especially in those countries who are going through democratic transitions in the last years. The worry is that one could hope that with the Covid-19 crisis and the gigantic amount of funding it requires, Africa of the 2020s will not fall over the mistakes of the 1980s which brought debt crisis.
Learning from the mistakes of the 1980s
The 1980s were known as the lost decade with international debt crisis started in 1982. It was also the decade of the new classical and supply-side economics with neo-liberal thinking and financial orthodoxy. Many African countries had levels of borrowing beyond the capacity of absorption of their economies.
The mistakes of the 1980s were money borrowed by African countries had never reached its destination, the intended beneficiaries, the people and among them the poor ones. Many African countries went unrealistically into debts that they could not effort to sum up and pay. They were put under medication by their lenders.
History should not repeat itself
The financial stabilisation programmes of the international Monetary Fund (IMF) and the structural adjustment programmes of the World Bank which respectively led to cuts in the social sector, particularly cuts in public budgets such as health, education, transport, housing, etc. should not repeat with the Covid-19 funding requirements. The Covid-19 shock should not lead to a new debt crisis. The 2020s should not become another lost decade for Africa.
In the 1980s, the IMF with the Washington Consensus made its lending conditional on implementation of detailed macro-economic policy reform programmes. These conditionality clauses attached to loans made their financial assistance ineffective in reducing poverty. Instead, they dramatically increased poverty in Africa. These programmes had negative ramifications as they happened with the backdrop of mounting social unrests and civil society demonstrations.
Making the Covid-19 fund reach its intended beneficiaries
It is good news to hear that some bilateral and multilateral institutions (including the same IMF and the World Bank) would like to provide some financial assistance in the form of debt relief or any other forms. However, one should make sure that the mistakes of the 1980s will not happen with public finances management in Africa. Any funding provided to Africa will be directed to relieve the coronavirus-hit people and poverty, not otherwise.
One could hope that the administrations of public finances management in Africa will raise to the challenge of accountability and transparency this decade. A financial monitoring and evaluation system or public scrutiny of the funds related to the coronavirus will be effective and efficient so that poor people do not pay the price as always nor are left behind like in the 1980s. For example, a monitoring mechanism should be put in place for the disbursements for public sector debt and interest payments.
One could expect that the call by African Ministers of Finance (1) on 30 and 31 March 2020 for $100 Billion support to mitigate the spread and negative effects of coronavirus disease 2019 will be listened and translated into effect. The Ministers have suggested fiscal stimulus and asked for the following: liquidity relief to the private sector, access to IMF emergency financing facilities such as Special Drawing Rights, EU’s guarantee and refinancing facilities for the private sector, etc.
One could hope as the communiqué of the African Ministers of Finance indicates that open budgets and open contract processes based on best practices to enable African civil society and the private sector to track the flow of funds, will be respected.
Although the IMF Executive Board approved on 13 April 2020 immediate debt relief for 25 countries (including 19 African countries), one needs to be cautious about this year prospects for Africa. This is because the same IMF (2) has projected a negative real Gross Domestic Product growth of -1.6 (as annual per cent change) for Sub-Saharan Africa.
Finally, one should not look forward to another generation of financial macro-economic regulation and micro-economic structural adjustment policies like the ones Africa underwent in the last century. The thoughts on Covid-19 continue…
(2) International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook, April 2020
• Protection Key Note 3: Protection of Poor, near Poor and Lower-middle Incomes
The word income can have many meanings and connotations. In the context of the Protection Key Note 3 of our Protection Month, we will use the economic definition of income. Income refers to the return to labour as a factor of production. This return is normally in terms of wage and work. It is a disposable income we are referring to. We are as well including in income, any transfer payments, or supplements of income that governments give as part of their welfare programmes to people. But, who are these poor, near poor people and lower-middle income earners?
• • Poor, near poor and lower-middle incomes
There are many breakdowns about people’s and families’ incomes in terms of quintiles, income ranges and classes depending on countries. In the context of this Protection Key Note 3, we are considering all incomes below middle-middle incomes. Because of the differentiation in international currencies and levels of development, we will not badge putting any figures about them. However, what we can do is to list those who may very likely to have their incomes within these brackets and who may have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. We have referred to the coronavirus pandemic as our protection model is still operating within the framework of the coronavirus pandemic.
The poor, near poor and lower-middle incomes affected by the coronavirus pandemic
Everybody has been more or less affected by the coronavirus pandemic. However, from the income perspective given above, transfer payment receivers and income earners who may be affected by Covid-19 shock include the following:
√ Those receiving conditional cash transfers
√ Those with guaranteed minimum income
√ Social pensioners
√ Public sector workers
√ In-working poor
√ Those on job guaranteed programmes
√ Those on universal basic income
√ Those living on cash, vouchers and in-kind transfers
√ Those with children on school feeding
√ Small self-employment income
√ Those on incomes that may not be enough to buy or build their own house
√ Those who may rely on government support to make ends meet
√ Those who are not earning enough to meet the cost of raising children under 18
√ Those with disable children but cannot meet the disability costs
We can continue to list these different types of incomes. Rather than just listing it is better to do something about their protection or protection of these incomes. This protection can come from many levels such as statutory (government), charity and voluntary sector, organisational, etc. We will be saying just a few words what governments are trying to do to protect these modest incomes, and what CENFACS and Africa-based organisations may need to do to help the poor, near poor and lower-middle incomes affected by the Covid-19 storm.
• • Levels of Income Protection
=> Statutory income protection measures
During this turbulent time of coronavirus pandemic, we have noticed that many governments around the world including in Africa are taking measures to protect their citizens’ incomes. One can hope that these measures will cover enough income needs of poor, near poor people and lower-middle income earners.
=> CENFACS’ help to the protection of poor, near poor and lower-middle incomes
This Special Spring, CENFACS is trying to go out its way to include in its regular advice and advocacy services the protection of these incomes. In doing so, we have brought back at this time of the year and converted our Festive Income Boost resource to provide Advisory Support on Rescue Income to the coronavirus-hit people. This Rescue Income Advisory Support is part of CENFACS’ Cube of Protection.
This rescue income-led and coronavirus-related advisory and advocacy services can be obtained via text, phone, email and contact form. We recommend those of our supporters who need income advice to use the above means of communications to access this coronavirus-related rescue income advisory support, as we are not running any events or activities that require physical contact during the coronavirus pandemic crisis.
=> Income protection at the level of Africa-based organisations (ASOs)
Many of our ASOs have developed activities and services related to the incomes issue to deal with the circumstances created by the coronavirus pandemic. Others are drawing or complementing their own initiatives with the local support, if any, they can receive from their local authorities. Where they may have some difficulties in setting up activities and services related to coronavirus, they can seek advice and CENFACS is open for discussions, advice and suggestions.
Furthermore, our Coronavirus Spring Project, which is also one of the initiatives making CENFACS’ Cube of Protection, contains some aspects of income protection which they can use.
To enquire and or get further details about the protection of poor, near poor and lower-middle incomes, please contact CENFACS.
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Thank you for visiting CENFACS website and reading this post.
Thank you as well to those who made or make comments about our weekly posts.
We look forward to receiving your regular visits and continuing support throughout 2020 and beyond.
With many thanks.