Public gatherings have been suspended, religious leaders have declared isolation as a Godly act, and entrepreneurs now consider a recess as a contingent claim regarding the current COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 outbreak has instigated unusual public addresses by State Leaders, including the declaration of lockdowns in many countries. With economic growth in the African region being hit significantly by the ongoing pandemic, the situation has shattered the economic lifeline of most people in Ghana, with a good number of citizens currently living on minimum funds and others below their normal livelihood.
However, in most African countries social relief initiatives are helping the fight against the pandemic in several ways. A very prominent initiative of the government of Ghana to relieve citizens of paying electricity and water bills has caused a whole lot of media chaos and pandemonium amidst this pandemic crisis.
However, at this stage, people must look beyond politics because we might not be able to bear the collateral damage.
The major worry is concerning life after this pandemic. Ghanaians should be worried about the systems that are going to be put in place to revive the state’s economy, education system, and structures that will be put in place to revamp, stabilize and sustain the nation’s future generation after COVID-19.
To most Ghanaians, hunger and economic hardship are a bigger problems than contracting COVID-19 during this lockdown period.
How will the economy be sustained?
In 2015, the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) were set by the United Nations General Assembly. Through effective leadership, some countries have been able to actualize some of these goals.
Whilst politicians have claimed several initiatives to realize the SDGs in Ghana, the present COVID-19 situation has exposed some vulnerabilities that threaten sustainable development.
Goal 1: With more than 800 million people globally living on less than $1.25 a day, the outbreak of this disease has drawn more vulnerable families of the human society below the poverty line.
Businesses have been closed down, salaries slashed and “per day capital” no longer exists for the most vulnerable class of people engaged in activities locally termed as “hand to mouth” in most parts of Ghana, including driving, street hawking, and many more.
As the SGDs seek to promote “no poverty” and end extreme poverty in all forms, the outbreak of this pandemic seems to narrow the chances of achieving this goal in Ghana.
Goal 2: Global statistics show that every 1 out of 9 people goes to bed every night without food. As the world battles this pandemic, with precautionary measures being taken into serious consideration in Ghana, agricultural activities, which are the main source of achieving food security and improved nutrition, have been crippled.
The second SDG is focused on food production and distribution to all. However, this objective is disrupted simply because farmers no longer go to their farms as a result of their adherence to precautionary measures.
The fear and panic that have been caused by ineffective communication during this period have affected the non-elite class of farmers in our societies negatively.
This situation has prevented most farmers from going out to their farms. Food distribution has also been disrupted as a result of lockdowns in most cities and towns in Ghana. Border security has been enforcing stringent measures including 14 days of compulsory quarantine for all entrants.
How does Ghana, a country that depends on neighbouring Burkina Faso and other countries for certain agricultural produce, survive in this situation? How does the country achieve food security and improved nutrition in this pandemic?
Resolving the challenge
The current picture suggests critical post-COVID-19 challenges, including:
- Severe food security crisis due to a decline in agricultural production and increased cost with regard to food importation.
- Increased internal and external migration of the working class of the population to seek brighter opportunities elsewhere.
To resolve these potential issues, the Government, Parliament and other stakeholders should draft a comprehensive and sustainable strategy to protect the economy and the vulnerable during and after the COVID-19 crisis. The strategy, among other interventions, should consider:
- Waivers for services such as fuel supply, transportation cost, cost of food, cost of telecommunication and internet services and mobile money transactions.
- Effective COVID-19 education among the non- elite and poor farmers to enable them to continue with their farming activities while adhering to safety precautions just like those involved in the local production of PPEs.
- Creating a funding or grant scheme to support the affected workers and vulnerable households