How do we slow the spread of Covid-19 without shutting down the livelihoods of poor households?
South Africa went into lockdown at midnight 26 March 2020, a decision that built on a global consensus of what it takes to slow the rate of infection of Covid-19 in the population. The economics of the national lockdown are straight forward. An enormous amount of productive economic activity has halted. The effect on the economy will be enormous.
But do we understand the social and political consequences of a sustained decline in the livelihoods of the poor?
A respectable source estimates a 7% increase in the rate of extreme poverty for all households to 21% and as much as a 16% increase for households with an informal worker to 26%. It is the poor that are left most vulnerable.
What is the cost to the country when the survival strategies and networks of support for the poor collapse under an extended lockdown? What cost when the legitimacy of the Covid-19 lockdown disintegrates because people do not have access to sufficient food?
We cannot starve the people to protect the people.
What are the main livelihood strategies available to poorer households?
The presence of...