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Episode #2: Coronavirus and poverty, and how we are not all equal in the face of a pandemic

At the height of this global health crisis, we hear that coronavirus does not discriminate and that we are all in this together. But is this really true? Is it really the case that everyone is equal in the face of a pandemic like COVID-19?

In this episode – with perspectives from Bangladesh, Kenya, Paraguay and the UK – we hear that the measures put in place to contain the virus hits people living in poverty hard. Social distancing is a privilege, people in precarious conditions bear the brunt of the pandemic’s economic consequences and government support needs to be more accessibly, timely and coordinated.

Four colleagues from across the world kindly agreed to share their thoughts based on their professional and personal experiences. We will hear about the situation in Dhaka, Bangladesh from Jiniya Afroze, country coordinator for the Child Labour Action Research Innovation in South and South Eastern Asia programme at Terre des Hommes in Bangladesh; in informal settlements in Kenya from Winnie Sambu, a PhD researcher at the University of Cape Town; in Paraguay from Marie Claire Burt and Juan Carlos Pane Solis, PhD researchers at the Institute of Development Studies; and in the UK from Diana Skelton, member of the national coordination team at ATD Fourth World UK.

This podcast episode follows an earlier post that argued that coronavirus lay bare the social and economic inequalities that exist within and across countries. While we often make distinctions between what happens in the Global North versus Global South – particularly when discussing issues of poverty – it is striking to see so many similarities in the harsh reality of lockdown measures for people in economically vulnerable and precarious conditions everywhere.

The episode ends with hints of silver linings for the future: maybe the way in which this pandemic brings people together to support others and raises questions about how we lead our lives in times of unrestricted abundance gives rise to greater solidarity and stronger systems of social support in future.

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