Many Guyanese forced to use up savings, had no alternative source of income amid pandemic – Report

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Prime Minister Mark Phillips receiving the report from a UNDP Representative

Prime Minister, Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips said that the Government of Guyana will use the socio-economic impact assessment report as a guide in future projects.

The report, which examined the impact of COVID-19 on Guyanese households, was prepared by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in collaboration with the Civil Defense Commission (CDC).

The data was collected via telephone and face-to-face interviews using a sample of 1500 households across the country.

The Prime Minister, who received the document in his office today during a simple handing over ceremony, said that the Government recognises the importance of sound, scientific data for informed decision-making and acknowledged that the data in the report reinforces the importance of its COVID-19 relief measures.

“We now have data which demonstrates the extent of income reduction at the household level and reinforces the importance of our Government’s COVID-19 relief programmes, such as the $25,000 cash grant and the distribution of food and sanitation hampers”.

He added that as the Government continues to work with partners, such as the UNDP, to restore the country’s economy and social systems, “this socio-economic impact assessment will inform project and programme design, planning and implementation across all sectors, so that resources will reach to the people most in need”.

THE FINDINGS

According to the report, although household expenditure remained somewhat normal, income has been reduced significantly, especially among female-led households.

It indicated that one in every five persons reportedly lost income as a result of the pandemic.

Additionally, approximately 69% of the respondents also reported that they had no alternative sources of income and would prefer cash as their primary form of assistance.

Around 52% of the household interviewed said that they were forced to use up their savings.

In regards to purchasing food, the report indicated that 37% of respondents resorted to buying cheaper, less preferred brands, while approximately 25% of persons said that they started growing their own vegetables.

Apart from the loss of income, 35% of respondents suggested that they would place proper internet access among their priority areas of need.

VERY USEFUL

UN Resident Coordinator in Guyana Mikiko Tanaka, who attended virtually, said that she agrees that the data in the report will be very useful for Guyana, especially in the long term.

“I believe that it is really important that we have this evidence for Guyana that would help to adjust the response and a lot of nuances that can be looked into and drawn from in the recovery strategy and also the longer-term development agenda that this new government has launched”.

Deputy Regional Director in the Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, Ms Linda Maguire and Resident Representative, United Nations Development Programme, Mr Jairo Valverde, among other international representatives were also virtually present for the ceremony.

Several representatives of the UNDP and CDC, including Operations Coordinator UNDP Guyana, Mr Navindra Persaud and Director General of the CDC, Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig were in the Prime Minister’s Office for the ceremony.