Shack tactics: Covid-hit townships need a leg-up, not more red ...

Ideas

Shack tactics: Covid-hit townships need a leg-up, not more red tape

The missing link is an enabling state to harness the energy and resourcefulness of locals with money-spinning ideas

Ivan Turok

Evidence from the National Income Dynamics Study – Coronavirus Rapid Mobile (Nids-Cram) survey shows just how hard the Covid-19 lockdown has hit poor communities. Unemployment among people living in urban townships and informal settlements appears to have more than doubled. Almost half of households thus ran out of money to buy food, causing extensive hunger and social distress.

The situation would have been even worse without government grants, which were topped up in June and reach about half of  households in these areas. One in four survey respondents also benefited from the new Covid-19 grant aimed at unemployed adults with no other income. These special payments were only supposed to provide temporary relief and could be withdrawn this month.

Whatever happens to these grants, there is clearly much more to be done to help low-income communities recover from the slump. Cash transfers are a vital stopgap, but not a lasting solution to multidimensional poverty. Engaging people in creating jobs and livelihoods by upgrading their settlements is much more rewarding and worthwhile...

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