Recovery must not be at expense of world’s poorest people

Sir, – As countries in the West take steps to kick-start their economies following the devastation of the Covid pandemic, it is going to be critical that we not lose sight of the global nature of this crisis.

Tough decisions will inevitably be made by national governments as they respond to the economic realities of Covid-19 – including a precipitous fall of 3.3 per cent in global GDP last year included – but these cannot be made at the expense of the world’s poorest.

The UN Development Programme estimates that over 100 million people have entered the ranks of the extreme poor in the past year, while that figure could double, bringing the number to more than a billion before the end of the decade.

Foreign direct investment, a critical source of financing for emerging and developing economies, fell by 42 per cent in 2020, while the debt burden of developing countries soared by an estimated $3 trillion.


By the end of this year, it is expected that remittances – the money sent home by family overseas, and a vital source of income in many rural poor communities in Africa – will decline by more than $20 billion because of Covid-19.

This economic perfect storm is happening across Africa with the continent in the midst of a pandemic surge that has seen an average 28 per cent week-on-week increase in infections for each of the past four weeks. The World Health Organisation says that this surge is driven by a mix of public fatigue, social mixing, ineffective public health measures and the emergence of highly infectious new variants.

With under 2 per cent of people in Africa fully vaccinated, that medical bulwark against the disease doesn’t yet exist.

As we in the West emerge slowly from the most dangerous period in our lifetimes, we shouldn’t forget that the dangers to the health and economic welfare of the world’s poorest are far from over. – Yours, etc,


Chief Executive,

Self Help Africa,

Dublin 8.