People Centred Development Applied to Gender

People Centred Development Theorists favour small-scale ‘ground up’ projects which focus on improving aspects of the day to day lives of women. They point out that women in developing countries are more than capable of promoting gender equality themselves, from the ground up, and don’t necessarily need the help of the World Bank or the United Nations.

There are thousands of small-scale and localised initiatives to promote gender equality worldwide as the BBC’s 100 women 2020 conference demonstrates.

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To my mind the BBC 100 women project is a prefect example of a gender focused People Centred approach to development – it champions women who are tackling gender related issues unique to their own localities and/ or interests, and in some very different ways.

These are very varied but here are just a few examples….

The Limitations of People Centred Approaches to tacking gender inequalities

These approaches may be too small scale to have a national and political impact.

It might require some kind of national or international ‘big institution’ co-ordination to get to the ‘root cause’ of something like sex-trafficking.

Related Posts

Modernisation Theory Applied to Gender and Development

Dependency Theory Applied to Gender and Development

Radical Feminism Applied to Gender and Development 

The education topic is part of the Global Development option, usually taught in the second year of the course. For more posts about Global Development, please click here.

A-level Sociology Students -same study patterns during lockdown?

Here’s some interesting insight into the study patterns of students and how Lockdown doesn’t seem to be having any affect at all so far this year……

Here’s my blog hits since August 2020….

NB – despite an increase in traffic this year (which is nice) the pattern you see below has been exactly the same for the last few years….

There is a dip in August, over the summer holiday, but a slow build up in early September – I guess as schools but not colleges start earlier, and then we have a stable weekly trend from September through to mid December, except for a dip when half term week comes – NB there is always a slow down on that last week before half term too.

There’s a significant dip during the XMAS holidays, but that’s to be expected, and then straight back up into January, and not how the half term dip repeats itself.

The final pink line is this week’s already only up to Tuesday, so looks like a bumper week – probably teachers threatening tests on the return in a couple of weeks.

Here’s the daily trend for the last month – you can see the weekend tail off too, every week, and then the half term dip at the end, and finally Monday – first day back after half term.

There will be some differences later this year I think….

There’s no formal exams, probably to be replaced by in house tests which will be earlier than the usual exams I imagine, so I’m not anticipating the usual May-June insane peak in views, I imagine it will be less intense and more spread out as the dates of tests will vary slightly from institution to instiution.

Still, up until now, students are very much creatures of habit. Perhaps Positivists had a point? People really are predictable!

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Strategies for Improving Health in Developing Countries

These obviously stem from people’s theories about what the ‘causes’ of poor health are.

Long term economic growth

The first and probably most important point is that there is a broad, if not perfect, correlation between a country’s per capita income and its levels of health, as measured by life expectancy, infant mortality, overall death rates, and incidents of particular diseases. As countries get wealthier, they get healthier – thus increasing economic growth appears to be the best long term strategy for improving health. Theories of how to promote economic growth differs with different theories.

No one demonstrates the relationship between income and life expectancy better than Hans Rosling:

Biomedical Intervention

Currently two of the main global projects are the mass vaccination programme to eradicated polio and the mass distribution of free mosquito nets to populations in Malarial regions.

Improving water sources and sanitation

This is widely seen as one of the most effective means of reducing deaths from diarrheal diseases and involves such things as drilling bore holes to reach underground water sources in rural areas, or treating water in urban areas, as is done in the developed world. Improving sanitation might mean building sewage systems and installing flush toilets. In urban settings, both of these would involve massive infrastructural projects to install. 

Better diets

Many people in the world still effectively die of malnutrition – which weakens the body’s resistance to infectious diseases. Young children are especially vulnerable.

Improving women’s rights and maternal health

The importance of which is illustrated in the ‘Worst Place to a Midwife – Liberia’

Political solutions

Ending Corruption and Conflict – Obviously both of these are a drain on a country’s resources – corruption might mean money does not get effectively spent on developing health services while overt conflict can mean

Providing cheaper drugs

It is Western Pharmaceutical companies which manufacture anti AIDs drugs, and antibiotics, which they then patent and sell for a profit. Eventually other companies make cheaper copies of these drugs, but frequently The World Trade Organisation does not allow the cheap copies to be sold until the original patent has run out – this can be several years. The WTO could put the right to life before the right to Corporate Profit.

Controlling Corporations

Dependency Theorists point out that if Corporations are allowed to make workers work for 12 hours a day in dangerous, toxic conditions, this will have a long term detrimental effect on the health and life expectancy of workers.

Relevance to A-level Sociology

The education topic is part of the Global Development option, usually taught in the second year of the course. For more posts about Global Development, please click here.

Why do Developing Countries have so many Health Problems?

Health and Development is one of the aspects of development students taking the global development option for A-level sociology have to study…

There are a number of fairly obvious explanations as to why low income countries face poor health conditions.  

Lack of an improved water source

Hundreds of millions of people in sub Saharan Africa and Southern Asia especially, mostly living in rural areas, rely on water from local streams and rivers, which is often contaminated with disease spreading parasites, which are ingested and then cause diarrhoea – resulting in hundreds of thousands of death each year from the resulting malnutrition and dehydration.

Poor Sanitation

This is responsible for the spread of diarrhoeal diseases – living in close proximity to open sewers full of human and animal waste products exposes one to a host of disease pathogens

Malnutrition

Nearly a billion people in the world are malnourished – this is one of the leading causes of child mortality.

Underdeveloped public health services

In the developed world there is 1 doctor for every 520 people, in the developing world there is one doctor for every 15 000 people. In rural areas, hospitals are spread so far apart that pregnant women often find it a practical impossibility to get to one for child birth.

War and Conflict

Some countries, most notably Somalia and Afghanistan, are currently in conflict – obviously this increases the likelihood of people getting injured and puts additional strain on a countries economic and health care resources.

Poverty

All of the above are ultimately linked to underlying poverty – as emphasised by Hans Rosling in his various videos.

Patriarchy and Traditional values

  • Modernisation Theorists emphasise the internal cultural values of developing countries that can act as barriers to improving life expectancy etc.
  • Patriarchal traditions may prevent money being spent on training midwives and providing maternity resources which could help reduce deaths in pregnancy 
  • Patriarchy and religious values may prevent contraception use – which is linked to the spread of HIV in Sub Saharan Africa

Environmental Factors

  • Jeffrey Sachs also points out that Environmental Factors also play a role – simply put, Mosquitos, which spread Malaria, responsible for 5% of deaths in low income countries, are especially partial to the conditions in parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

Related Posts

You might also like this post: strategies for improving health in developing countries. Link to follow.

Theories of Development applied to Health

As a genera rule, people in developing countries suffer from poorer health than people in developed countries – with higher rates of deaths from preventable causes resulting in higher child mortality rates and lower life expectancies.

Theories of development aim to explain why this is the case and what the most effective solutions to improving health should be.

Modernisation Theory

Modernization Theorists would expect health patterns of developing countries to follow those of the developed world in the past. They believe that developing countries are entering the ‘epidemiological transition’ associated with economic development and rising GDP

Before the transition, infectious diseases are widespread and are the major causes of death; life expectancy is low and infant mortality high. With Industrialisation, urbanisation and economic growth come improvements in nutrition, hygiene and sanitation which lead to falling death rates from infectious diseases. After the transition, health improves.

It follows that the best way for developing countries to improve the health of the nation is to focus on industrialization, urbanization and economic growth. Improvements in health should follow.

Modernisation Theorists also argue that targeted aid can play a role in improving the health of developing nations

This can mainly be done through ‘Selective biomedical intervention’ – Such as mass immunization against disease, or distributing vitamin supplements to populations, or handing out mosquito nets.  One of the best examples of this is the work of the Bill and Melinda Gate’s Foundation work on combatting Malaria, the reduction of which has been one the great success stories of the last decade.

The eradication of Smallpox is a good example of this strategy working:

One limitation of using selective biomedical intervention is that theexpense means that it is difficult to maintain, and, where the distribution of mosquito nets is concerned, this may lead to choking off local entrepreneurs, as Dambisa Moyo argued in ‘Dead Aid’.

Dependency Theory

Dependency Theory points out that attempts by developing countries to improve health may actually be hindered by the West

Firstly, if you remember, Dependency Theorists point out that it is exploitation by developed countries that keep developing countries poor and they receive very little income from their dealings in world trade which means there is little money left over for investment in health care. 

Secondly, there is the problem of the ‘brain drain’ from the developing to the developed world. At least one in ten doctors in the west has been poached from the developing world – it is obviously much more appealing for people in Africa and Asia to work in Britain where they can receive several times the salary they would in their native country.

Thirdly, Many African companies have had to pay high costs for pharmaceuticals manufactured by Western corporations. This is especially true of AIDS drugs. Western companies are thus accused of exploiting desperate people in Africa.

Finally, some Transnational Corporations have actually contributed to health problems through selling products that would not be regarded as safe in the West, not to mention polluting in the pursuit of profit. 

Relevance to A Level Sociology

The education topic is part of the Global Development option, usually taught in the second year of the course. For more posts about Global Development, please click here.

Are one in five people really disabled?

According to official statistics 19% of working aged adults, or one in five people self-report as being ‘disabled’, and this figure has been widely used in the media to promote pro-disability programming.

How do we Define Disability?

According to the formal, legal, UK definition under the 2010 Equality Act someone is disable if they ‘have a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities’.

That 19% figure sounds like a lot of people, in fact it is a lot of people – that’s 13 million people in the United Kingdom.

But maybe it’s only a lot because when we think of ‘disability’ we tend to immediately think of people will physical and very visible disabilities, the classic image of a disable person being someone in a wheelchair, which the media generally doesn’t help with its over-reliance of wheelchair users to signify they are ‘representing the disabled’.

In fact there are ‘only’ 1.2 million wheelchair users in Britain, or less than one in ten people who classify as disabled.

How do we measure disability ?

The 19%, or one five figure comes from the UK’s Family Resources Survey, the latest published result coming from the 2018/19 round of surveys.

This is a pretty serious set of surveys in which respondents from 20 000 households answer questions for an hour, some related to disability.

The Questions which determined whether someone classifies as disable or not are as follows:

  • Have you had any long term negative health conditions in the last 12 months? If you respond yes, you move on to the next two questions:
  • Do any of these health conditions affect you in any of the following areas – listed here are the top answers: mobility/ stamina, breathing or fatigue/ mental health/ dexterity/ other 
  • Final question: do any of your conditions or illness impact your ability to carry out your day to day activities -the responses here are on a 4 point likehert scale ranging from a not at all to a lot.

Anyone ticking YES/ YES and either ‘my illness affects me a lot or a little’ is classified by the UK government as disabled.

Validity problems with this way of measuring disability

The problem with the above is that if you have Asthma and similar mild conditions you could be classified as disabled, and this doesn’t tie in with the government’s own definition of disability which requires that someone has a condition which ‘substantially’ affects their ability to carry out every day tasks.

Stating that you have asthma which affects your breathing a little, does NOT IMO qualify you as disabled, but it does in this survey.

The government doesn’t publish the breakdown of responses to the final disability question, but it’s roughly a 50-50 split between those answering ‘a lot’ and ‘a little.

In conclusion, it might be more accurate to say that one in ten people is disabled.

Relevance to A-level sociology

This short update should be a useful contemporary example to illustrate some of the validity problems associated with using social surveys, especially for topics with a high degree of subjectivity such as what disability means!

NB – I gleaned the above information from Radio Four’s More or Less, the episode which aired on Weds 10th Feb 2021.

A critical look at Bill Gates plan the plan to vaccinate the world

A recent series of videos by the Corbett Report offer a critical look at the role of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in global health generally and in our response to covid-19 more specifically.

The report suggests that our rush to develop a vaccine for the entire world population isn’t necessarily in the interests of the people, but really about establishing a global population control grid through the rolling out of biometric ‘passports’ which prove people have been vaccinated.

Ultimately the normalisation of vaccines and vaccine passports will benefit big pharma companies, bit tech companies, Bill Gates himself and governments, and make populations easier to keep under surveillance and to control: once they have all our biometric data, it’s easy to link this to government records, and access to finance, for example.

This analysis is broadly in line with a modern day Dependency Theory/ Marxist perspective on global health which is critical of the role of biomedical intervention in dealing with global health problems.

The post below summarises a two hour long video by the Corbett Report, which is available here with the full transcript and links.

How Bill Gates Monopolised Global Health

In the late 1990s and early 2000s Bill Gates established something of a miraculous monopoly with his plagiarised, bloated and virus ridden software: Microsoft Windows, and he was rightly despised for that.

However, in 2021, Bill Gates is now presented to us as a generous philanthropist, one of the richest and most generous men in the world using his wealth for the great good of humanity, through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Bill Gates has somehow managed to transform his image from that of evil software monopolist into Global Health Guru, spearheading Global Health Initiatives which have helped to save millions of lives over the last decade.

However the Corbett Report suggests we should not be taken in by this reworking Bill Gate’s Image – it is a similar re-invention to that of J.D. Rockefeller – who used to be despised as the head of the wealthiest oil corporation in America but in later life used his wealth to establish charitable foundations such as the Rockefeller Foundation and re-invent himself as a kindly old man in the process.

Bill Gate’s Image as a modern day Saint is achieved by buying good publicity – the Foundation has spent tens of billions of dollars Media partnerships such as

  • Our World in Data
  • The Global Development section of The Guardian and
  • BBC Global Development news.
  • Among other sources

And funding these media outlets which report on Global Health means it is less likely that Gates is going to be criticised.

NB – crucial point here: while the the Gates Foundation has funding several global health initiatives over the last decade with billions of dollars in contributions, Bill Gates also controls another for-profit institution – the Bill Bill and Melinda Gates Trust with $46.8 Billion on its books, which tends to profit from the initiatives the foundation funds, AND Bill Gates as got richer over the past decade – in fact his wealth has doubled from around $50 billion to over $100 billion!

The Gates Foundation has funded every major global health initiative of the last two decades and is major player in global health and the response to Covid-19.

Just some of its donations over the last decade include:

  • Huge amounts to set up Gavi – the Global Vaccine Alliance
  • The Gates Foundation is the second largest donor to the the World Health Organisation after the United States.
  • It has pledged $250 to the Covid-19 Response
  • It funded the work of two research groups which were crucial to convincing governments around the world to go into Lockdown- The Imperial College Research Team (funded by 80 from B and G) and the Institute for health Metrics and Evaluation ($200 million received).

The response the Covid-19 has largely been driven by institutions funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the narrative of the importance of ‘developing a ‘Good Vaccine’ in order to get back to normal stems from institutions funded by the Foundation.

Ultimately we should be critical of the fact that our response to the largest pandemic of our times is being driven by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which isn’t a philanthropic institution, it is driven by the interests of the Gates Family, which seem to involve making Bill Gates richer, and which can change on a whim.

As is explored in part two, the agenda of the Foundation for the last decade has been to ‘develop markets’ for vaccines, benefitting pharmaceutical companies.

Bill Gates Plan to Vaccinate the World

In January 2010 Bill and Melinda Gates announced a $10 billion commitment to launch a ‘Decade of Vaccines’ which would save ‘eight million lives’, in line with one of its core funding areas, that of ‘vaccine development and surveillance’

This led to the development of the following:

  • A global vaccine action plan adminsitered by the Gate’s Funded World Health Organisation
  • The foundation of Gavi – the vaccine alliance with the aim of establishing ‘healthy markets for vaccines’
GAVI – Active in nearly 80 developing countries.

However, the Corbett Report’s view on this is that the main beneficiaries would be the Big Pharma companies who stood to profit from so many vaccines and greater power and control for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation over the global health agenda.

The entire Covid-19 agenda has been shaped by a narrative coming from institutions funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – that we cannot get back to normal until a ‘good vaccine’ is developed, and this will take at least 18 months.

HOWEVER, the Corbett Report suggests that we should be wary of this message – thinking back to two recent other Pandemics – SARS and MERS – we did not develop a vaccine against them, many pro-vaccine scientists are skeptical about the possibility of being able to develop a truly effective vaccine, and an final problem is that vaccines may just make Coronavirus tougher – through ‘disease enhancement’.

What we are doing is rushing through an experimental vaccine, not testing it thoroughly before administering it to literally billions of people, and it is those people who bare the risk, not the Pharma companies who are being given legal immunity if anything backfires.

The report lists a few examples of where the Gates Foundation has worked with governments to establish vaccine programmes – for Polio and Meningitis – and there is some evidence that these vaccines actually led to hundreds of thousands of people developing chronic conditions because of being given the vaccines.

We are then reminded that the primary aim of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is to work with governments to establish vaccine programmes which in turn opens up vaccine markets for the large Pharmaceutical Companies they work with – all of this also benefits the Bill and Melinda Gates Trust and Bill Gates own personal wealth too!

Bill Gates and the Population Control Grid

Bill Gate’s PR hacks consistently depict him as a superhero, using his ‘superpower’ of being very rich to help ‘save the planet’.

However, the idea of the billionaire philanthropist helping the world is merely that, an idea, a fiction.

The Bill and Melinda Gate’s Foundation take over of public health and the mass vaccine programmes instigated through the bodies they have funded are really about gaining control of the global population.

In 2009 there was a secret billionaires meeting in New York attended by some of the richest people in the world such as….

This was about how to pool their wealth to reduce population growth, which ties into the vaccination programme because if you improve people’s health and thus standard of living (especially the child survival rate) they have fewer children.

By 2014 they were championing birth control implants – wireless tech that can be turned on and off with a remote control. The Gates Foundation granted $20 million to MicroCHIPS biotechnology to develop them.

Gates has long been introduced in reducing the size of the global population through birth control, but with vaccines he aims to take this a step further, by controlling the population itself.

In 2017 Gavi first floated the idea of providing every child with a digital biometric identity, or developing a ‘secure digital identification system which could store a child’s medical history.

One example of this is an Indian company called Khushi Baby who have designed a necklace to be worn by infants which contains a unique identification number with a communication chip – this can be scanned using a mobile phone enable health workers even in remote areas to update a child’s digital health record.

Robert Langer and colleagues at MIT have taken this a step further – they have been developing a new vaccine delivery method using dissolvable microneedles (delivered by a plaster like patch rather than a classic injecting needle) that create particle patterns in the skin which can be read using modified smartphones – quantum dot tags which act like a bar-code tattoo.

And lo and behold we now have a discourse surrounding the Covid-19 vaccination programme, led by Bill Gates, stating that we will need some kind of biometric digital ID system which shows who has been tested/ vaccinated/ recovered in order to ‘get back to normal’.

This is already underway, for example Onfido is a tech startup specialising in AI-based biometric ID verification which is in talks with the British government to provided the kind of digital certification which Gates has been talking about.

Oh, and Onfido has received $50 million in seed-money from Microsoft.

NB – Gates has already been involved with a biometric identity scheme in India – a decade ago one billion people had their biometric details recorded (fingerprints and iris scans), headed by Nandan Nilekani, a long time friend of Gates and partner in the Gates Foundation.

There have been similar schemes on a global scale, such as the World Bank’s 2014 ID4D Initiative, presented as means to help the world’s poor access finance, but really being about control and for the benefit of large corporations.

The Corbett Report in fact suggests that the global biometric control grid is really about financial exclusion – when people have a biometric ID, established because of ‘vaccines’ it is relatively easy to link this to access to finance – no vaccine, no doing what the government says, then no money!

‘The vaccination drive ties into the biometric identity drive which ties into the cashless society drive. ‘

Bill Gates is not at all concerned about people’s privacy, he is interested in controlling us, he is better off depicted as a super villain.

Meet Bill Gates

This final part investigates the motives and ideology of the man who is so central to shaping our post coronavirus world.

Firstly, he is not a genius – he got his break with a software company because of his mother’s connections with the CEO (he was from a wealthy background) and his Graphical Interface (Windows) idea was ripped off.

Secondly, he is primarily concerned with profit rather than saving lives – the poorest of the world would be best served by secure food supplies and clean water, not costly vaccines, but there is no profit in the former, hence why the Gates Foundation focuses on vaccines, for profit.

if you take a look back at Bill Gate’s involvement with Microsoft in the late 70s what he basically did was to change a culture of largely open source software development and establish software code as a property right, making it illegal for anyone else to modify the software Microsoft developed, even though he had ripped that off from someone else.

So his ‘genius’ lies in manipulating the legal system to establish property rights for his own benefit. He is a very selfish profit-motivated individual.

The video also suggests that Bill Gates might be motivated by A Eugenicist ideology – like the Nazis were. He has links to Jeffry Epstein who, like him, believes the wealth elites are superior and that we should use population control to seed the global population with the DNA of the wealthy in order to ‘improve it’.

And today Gates wants to set up a web to control:

  • our public health services
  • our identities
  • our finances
  • our bodies

It is likely that this desire for control comes from the same desire for domination and superiority that motivated him on the way up the corporate ladder in the first place.

Relevance to A-level sociology

This is mostly relevant to the option in Global Development, but it also has relevance to the Media option- it’s worth mentioning that the mainstream media would dismiss most of the above as a ‘conspiracy theory’, but you’ll have to make your own judgement call about that!

Urbanisation and Development

Urbanisation refers to the growth of cities, typically involving the movement of populations from rural areas.

The post considers some of the perspectives on urbanisation and development. This topic is relevant to the Global Development option within A-level sociology.

The world is rapidly urbanising

The introduction to the video below provides a nice overview of the process…

Improving the quality of urban life is Sustainable Development Goal number 11.

Modernisation Theory – Urbanisation promotes development

Modernisation Theorists argued that urbanization had an overall positive impact on developing countries. They argued that cities are better environments to promote positive economic and social change compared to the correspondingly ‘backward’ traditional rural (countryside) communities. 

How cities can promote development?

  1. Giving a boost to economic growth – Cities attract Industrial-Capitalists into setting up factories because they give them access to a large pool of labour. The wages paid to factory workers then trickle down to other city services.
  2. Cities can also play a positive role in cultural social change – They encourage the emergence of a new entrepreneurial middle class who aspire to modern lifestyles
  3. Cities also weaken the ties of individuals to families in rural areas which challenges and overcomes the traditional values of collectivism and patriarchy.
  4. Finally, Cities can promote development because it is easier for governments to establish health care and education in areas with dense populations compared to the more dispersed populations found in rural areas.

Dependency Theorists see Urbanisation as primarily benefitting the wealthy.

The last 30 years has seen the emergence of dozens of truly ‘global cities’ – London, Cairo, New York, Tokyo, Shanghai, Rio –globally interconnected via satellite communications and air-transport networks, with exclusive shops, housing and entertainment, but only actually available to the relatively well off – the minority.

Increasing amounts of urban poor work in low-paid service sector jobs, hidden away in sub-standard housing, just about earning a ‘living wage’. Also, an ever increasing amount of developing countries’ economies become oriented to developing infrastructure in the city for the benefit of middle classes, tourists = Olympic and Football stadiums, rather than improving the lives of the majority in the more rural areas.

Dependency Theorists also point out the Modernisation idea of Industrialisation leading to Urbanisation and development is a myth. What actually happens with Urbanisation is that there are too few jobs available for people who flood to new urban centres and huge amounts of unemployed people in slums come to form an urban underclass – which is actually beneficial to TNCs as this enables them to keep the wages of the unemployed low. Marxists like to think that this concentration of masses of disempowered people may have the potential for revolution. Dependency theorists point out that this is unlikely, however, as a lot of state power in the developing world is oriented towards suppressing this potential for revolution.

Problems associated with rapid Urbanisation

There are several problems associated with rapid urbanisation as infrastructure development cannot keep pace with the influx of people. Some of the problems are explored in the video below.

There is also an issue with covid-19: the overcrowding and lack of infrastructure (for hand washing for example) also make it more difficult to combat the spread of Pandemics, such as Covid-19, in slums.

There are also positives of ‘slum living’

Some ‘slums’ involve local people innovating to ensure their areas are liveable in….

This is a brief ‘starter’ post on Urbanisation, many updates to follow!

How is Coronavirus Affecting Developing Countries?

It is worth distinguishing first of all between the negative health effects of the virus itself and the negative effects of government lockdowns. The severity of lockdowns and the capacity to enforce them vary from country to country, and so the consequences of this politically imposed response to the pandemic will vary greatly across countries.

EVEN IF the stats are unreliable, governments the world over have responded with lockdown measures in response to public concern, which has very real consequences.

Lockdowns are pushing people into poverty, hunger and children are being pulled out of school

This brief report from the ODI puts a human face on the consequences of Covid-19. They provide a case study of one woman in Nairobi, Kenya, who was eating three meals a day and sending her children to school pre-lockdown.

However, lockdown forced the shutdown of her street food stall and now she is eating one meal a day, the children are meal sharing at another household and she doesn’t have the money to send them back to school.

Coronavirus has pushed another 71 million people into extreme poverty

The World Bank estimates that 71 million more people will be pushed into extreme poverty in 2021 as a result of coronavirus, an increase of 0.5% and taking the total to nearly 9% of the world population, eradicating all progress towards ending extreme poverty since 2017.

A further 170 million people in low to middle income countries will be pushed below the global poverty lines of $3.20 and $5.50 a day.

How covid-19 has affected households in developing countries

Another World Bank report from December 2020 used phone surveys to interview people in IDA (countries qualifying for development assistance, mostly the poorest countries) and non-IDA countries.

The results show that the consequences have generally been harsher for people in developing countries:

  • People in IDA countries are less likely to have stopped working but more likely to have taken cuts in wages.
  • They are more likely to have skipped a meal.
  • Children’s education has suffered much more in IDA countries compared to non-IDA countries
  • Government bail outs are much less common in IDA countries.

This united Nations article suggests that poorer countries lack the capacity to respond to a global pandemic and that coronavirus could create further burdens in those countries having to deal with other major health problems such as aids and malaria.

It further notes that closure of borders will affect those countries reliant on trade, and reduce remittances from abroad (money sent home), reduce migrant labour opportunities and affect those countries which rely on tourism for income.

Covid-19 will increase inequality

A final World Bank report suggests that inequality will increase as a result of Covid-19.

This is based on evidence from how countries have recovered from previous Pandemics.

The theory is that households with resources are better able to weather the negative affects of a downturn, by keeping their children in school for example, and by using savings rather than taking on debt, and so can just ‘carry on’ as normal when economic recover comes, while poorer people are having to play catch up.

It’s explained in this handy infographic:

Those working in the informal sector are hardest hit

This LSE. blog post reminds us that many more people work informally in developed countries – and these people will be the hardest hit by lockdown policies – they are the first to be laid-off when work is reduced and they do not qualify for any government assistance measures either.

Other potential impacts

You should be able to find out about other impacts, such as:

  • In the long term more countries might cut their foreign aid budgets, like Britain has done recently.
  • Charities such as Oxfam are likely to receive less money from the general public.
  • It will be more difficult for migrant labourers to find work because of border restrictions.
  • I dread to think how all of this has affected the movement of refugees!
  • There have probably been more cases of domestic abuse worldwide as a result of lockdowns.
  • Possibly the most devastating long-term affect is the number of days of schooling that children in poorer countries would have missed – low income countries have much less capacity to offer home based, online learning, compared to wealthier countries.

Relevance to A-level sociology

This is mainly relevant to the health and global development topic, but there are also some useful links here to social constructionism and social action theory.

Are there really fewer covid-19 cases in poorer countries?

According to this New York Times heat map, Covid-19 cases seem to be much more prevalent per capita in developed countries compared to developing countries…

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is coranavirus-cases-worldwide-1024x539.png

The counts are especially high in America, Europe and South America doesn’t fair too well either.

But the count per capita is much lower in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Analysis from Brookings (source) shows the contrast much more starkly – People in developing countries make up 50% of the world’s population but account for only 2% of covid deaths.

The infographic below shows how many people die from covid (the circle) compared to the other main causes of death – if you look at the left hand side, they are generally poorer countries, on the right, generally richer countries…

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is covid-19-global-deaths.png

Are there really fewer covid cases and deaths in poorer countries?

Brookings suggests the different may not be as great as the statistics above suggest. Because….

  1. The different age profiles – Covid-19 affects the very old more severely – especially the over 70s – and to put it bluntly there are hardly any people aged over 70 in poorer countries, because of the lower life expectancy, whereas in developed countries have a more older age profile.
  2. Differences in detecting and reporting covid-19 as a cause of death. In developed countries we have much better detection capacity and it’s possible that Covid has been mis-recorded as a cause of death when really, because of co-morbidity, something else was really the cause. While in the developing world people may well be dying of (or with) covid-19 but it hasn’t been traced.

in short, remember that these covid-19 death statistics are a total social construction.

However, the statics may lack validity, but government responses the world over have been severe – and this social reaction has had very real negative consequences in rich and poor countries alike!

Relevance to A-level sociology

This material is mainly relevant to the global development health topic, but there are also some nice links here to the problems with official statistics.

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