On January 7, UN in China and the China International Center for Economic and Technical Exchanges (CICETE) presented their joint work of the "Socioeconomic Impact Assessment of the COVID-19 pandemic in Five Poverty Counties in China" in a launch event in Beijing.
The report's findings illustrate the pandemic's implications beyond the health dimensions while aiming to support China's socioeconomic recovery and strengthen its progress on the SDGs. The report focuses on vulnerable groups such as older people, women, children, persons with disabilities, and migrant workers.
Published with support from UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF and the UN Resident Coordinator's Office, the report conducted its assessment in five selected counties. These include Chengbu of Hunan Province, Neixiang of Henan Province, Yilong of Sichuan Province, Zhouqu of Gansu Province, and Shiyan City of Hubei Province during June 2020.
"China has quickly and effectively brought the pandemic under control, minimized its impact and resumed economic development in an active and prudent manner." said Yan Dong of CICETE in the foreword of the report. "However, the economic and social development of poor areas is still under certain impact and some deficiencies have been exposed there."
The report found that two-thirds of surveyed households expect an average decrease of 32% in their total income in 2020 but notes that most households managed the income losses without a significant decline in living standards thanks to favourable social protection and poverty alleviation policies.
While families relying on agricultural activities and transfer payments in these counties were the least affected, the pandemic hit those in self-employed business the hardest.
Beyond the economic impact, the report found that the pandemic exacerbated educational challenges for school-age children in these poverty counties but saw that 90% of children attending primary education reported some organized online learning.
With one-fifth of older people reporting difficulties in obtaining necessary daily care, financial support and emotional companionship, the report notes that those living in urban communities, older females, Han families, and the most elderly were most affected.
The report concludes that additional support for vulnerable groups in poverty-affected regions "will be vital for China in fulfilling its ambition of ensuring high-quality development that includes everyone, during the recovery and beyond".
"We must not only beat the virus but also tackle its profound consequences, particularly on the most vulnerable, and in so doing, ensure, that we leave no one behind", said Amakobe Sande, interim UN Resident Coordinator in China at the launch event of the report. "Everything we do during and after this crisis must be with a strong focus on building more equal, inclusive and sustainable economies and societies that are more resilient in the face of pandemics and future shocks."
Data and information featured in this report will now inform policymakers and local governments with regard to the design of UN programmes to address the socioeconomic effects and help China recover more effectively from the pandemic.
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