1.6bn informal workers hit by lockdowns: ILO

Published May 9, 2020
QUETTA: Vendor selling fruits in provincial street on Friday. ILO says the Covid-19 lockdowns threaten to increase relative poverty levels among the world’s informal economy workers by as much as 56 percentage points in low-income countries.—INP
QUETTA: Vendor selling fruits in provincial street on Friday. ILO says the Covid-19 lockdowns threaten to increase relative poverty levels among the world’s informal economy workers by as much as 56 percentage points in low-income countries.—INP

ISLAMABAD: As many as 1.6 billion of the world’s 2bn informal economy workers are affected by Covid-19 lockdown and containment measures, a new briefing paper issued by the International Labour Organi­sation (ILO) said.

Most are working in the hardest-hit sectors or in small units more vulnerable to shocks including workers in accommodation and food services, manufacturing, wholesale and retail, and the more than 500 million farmers producing for the urban market, the report says. Women are particularly affected in high-risk sectors, it adds.

The Covid-19 lockdown and containment measures threaten to increase relative poverty levels among the world’s informal economy workers by as much as 56 percentage points in low-income countries.

In high-income countries, relative poverty levels among informal workers is estimated to increase by 52 percentage points, while in upper middle-income countries the increase is estimated to be 21 percentage points.

In addition, with these workers needing to work to feed their families, Covid-19 containment measures in many countries cannot be implemented successfully. This is endangering governments’ efforts to protect the population and fight the pandemic. It may become a source of social tension in countries with large informal economies, the report says.

More than 75 per cent of total informal employment takes place in businesses of fewer than ten workers, including 45pc of independent workers without employees.

With most informal workers having no other means of support, they face an almost unsolvable dilemma: to die from hunger or from the virus, the briefing says. This has been exacerbated by disruptions in food supplies, which has particularly affected those in the informal economy.

For the world’s 67 million domestic workers, 75pc of whom are informal workers, unemployment has become as threatening as the virus itself. Many have not been able to work, whether at the request of their employers or in compliance with lockdowns. Those who do continue to go to work face a high risk of contagion, caring for families in private households. For the 11 million migrant domestic workers the situation is even worse.

The countries with the largest informal economies, where full lockdowns have been adopted, are suffering the most from the consequences of the pandemic. Informal economy workers significantly impacted by lockdown vary from 89pc in Latin America and the Arab states to 83pc in Africa, 73pc in Asia and the Pacific, and 64pc in Europe and Central Asia.

Countries need to follow a multi-track strategy that combines several lines of actions relating to both the health and economic impacts of the pandemic, the ILO said.

Among its recommendations, the report highlights the need for policies that reduce the exposure of informal workers to the virus; ensure that those infected have access to health care; provide income and food support to individuals and their families; and prevent damage to the economic fabric of countries.

Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2020

Opinion

ECP roars back
Updated 19 Jun 2021

ECP roars back

The bill is a shocking manifestation of the PTI government’s unilateral push to have its way.
Meeting at the top
19 Jun 2021

Meeting at the top

There must be the will to listen, to confer and to compromise...
Budgeting with constraints
Updated 18 Jun 2021

Budgeting with constraints

The budget strategy will deliver growth but raises the risk of external account stress.

Editorial

19 Jun 2021

NA peace — for now

AFTER a session of utter pandemonium and a distasteful war of words, normalcy finally returned to the National...
India uranium theft
Updated 19 Jun 2021

India uranium theft

REPORTS emerging from India about the theft of uranium and possible sale on the black market should be a cause for...
19 Jun 2021

KCR rigmarole

THURSDAY’S proceedings in the Supreme Court clearly demonstrated how divided the stakeholders are when it comes to...
Poll bill reservations
Updated 18 Jun 2021

Poll bill reservations

Reforming the electoral process is vital for Pakistan, and doing so by taking everyone on board is equally important.
18 Jun 2021

E-fund transfer fee

THE State Bank’s decision to withdraw the facility of free of cost digital fund transfer services is disappointing...
18 Jun 2021

Gaza bombed again

MEMORIES of last month’s savage assault by Israel targeting Gaza had not yet faded when earlier this week news...