On 11 March 2020, WHO announced that Covid-19 outbreak can be characterized as a pandemic. Although the epicenters of the pandemic are currently in the United States and Europe, majority of Arab countries are heavily affected by the virus. In the region, impacts of the Covid-19 crisis are expected to be devastating given prevalent poverty and informality, conflicts and displacement, shrinking oil revenues as well as other factors. ECSWA projects that Covid-19 crisis can result in an additional 8.3 million people falling into poverty in the Arab region.
To mitigate negative impacts of the crisis on population and businesses, governments around the globe are rolling out generous welfare programmes and stimulus packages, and Arab States are no exception. To ensure minimum income security of the population and their access to basic healthcare, governments are expanding the existing social protection programmes and devising new ones. The scope and depth of social protection response varies significantly across the region. This way, ESCWA member States can benefit from learning each other’s experiences and discussing challenges of social protection response, the inclusion of all and leaving no behind to the unfolding crisis.
The online meeting convened by ESCWA and ILO on 22 April 2020 will facilitate experience exchange and peer-learning and thus, enhance the capacities of ESCWA member countries to efficiently design, implement and monitor social protection interventions aimed at mitigation of the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic and reaching to those in need without discrimination. During the meeting, ESCWA will present the preliminary results of its mapping of policy responses to Covid-19 crisis around the globe that encompasses 160 countries.