The Economic Impact of COVID-19 and Our Relief Response
FROM THE FIELD
Thursday, September 24, 2020
As of 22 August, our four countries combined had only 4,126 covid-19 reported cases and 64 covid-19 reported deaths (Thailand 3,390 cases with 58 deaths; Myanmar 441 cases with 6 deaths; Cambodia 273 cases with 0 deaths; and Laos 22 cases with 0 deaths) since the start of the pandemic.
However, we now know that managing the corona pandemic is a balancing act between people’s health and the economy; our countries made it clear that the people’s health has the higher priority. As a result, the impact on the economies has been devastating. Millions of migrant workers, day labourers and workers from low-income families have lost their jobs, mostly in the construction, tourism and manufacturing industries. Tourist hotspots like Phuket, Koh Samui and Siem Reap have become ghost towns. The World Bank predicts that, in Thailand alone, the number of economically insecure (those living on less than USD 5.5 per day) will double to 9.7 million in Q2 2020. Although the governments have put together some relief packages, they do not cover the most vulnerable people like migrant workers, informal workers, and slum and squatter families that moved into urban areas to seek day labouring jobs.
Although Child’s Dream continues to support our existing health and education projects and programmes during the pandemic, we saw a temporary need and opportunity for us to selectively work with our partners to reach these at risk families. The relief responses consist of the provision of food and protective materials such as soap, face masks and hand sanitizers, combined with awareness campaigns for covid-19 protection. Here are a couple of our relief responses:
- Distribution of 1,500 relief bags with rice, canned fish, instant noodles and medicines in affected Burmese migrant communities with support from DKHS Thailand and in collaboration with Shan Youth Power and BEAM
- Distribution of 500 relief bags with rice, onions, oil, canned fish, instant noodles, face masks and soap to affected families in slum areas of Dagon Seikan Township in Yangon in collaboration with Community Care Myanmar
- Distribution of 669 bottles (500ml) and 228 bottles (4000ml) of hand sanitizers for 22 schools in Xaignabouli Province in Laos with 6,211 students to prepare for their reopening
- Distribution of 20,000 soap bars and 17,000 face masks, as well as the provision of rice seeds, to 150 families in three districts in Siem Reap province with support from PG Impact Investment Foundation and in collaboration with Cambodian Community Dream Organisation
In addition thanks to the generous support of the Leopold Bachmann Stiftung, we were also able to collaborate with our partners, the Migrant Educational Coordination Center (MECC) and Teacher Focus Myanmar, in Mae Sot along the Thai – Myanmar border to transition the schooling of almost 10,000 Burmese migrant children to home-based education as their migrant learning centers were not allowed to open. Without this temporary transition many migrant students would have dropped out and become child labourers.
We will continue to evaluate the situation, especially in vulnerable communities, and to seek partnerships to provide relief such as food, hygiene materials and materials to rebuild their livelihoods.
Thank you to the dedicated donors that supported these relief responses.